With the 30th and final issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 rapidly approaching, it feels quite satisfying, as a fan, to state that writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs are firing on all cylinders as we head into the big finale. If the just-released Buffy: Season 10 #28 is any sign, the creative team behind Dark Horse Comics’ canon continuation are clearly destined for these roles. (I’m sure there’s a prophecy somewhere in the Pergamum Codex.)
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
Buffy: Season 10 #28 is all about bringing our team home, in both a physical and emotional sense. While Xander and Dawn continue their dimension-hopping journey back to their own reality, the rest of the Scooby gang each comes to the realization that, despite their recent differences, they need each other in the end. While, on paper, this step in the story arc sounds like a retread of Buffy: Season 4’s “The Yoko Factor” (splitting the group up as a representation of the fairly common phenomena of friends growing apart as they grow and their lives take them in different paths), Gage keeps the concept fresh by continuing to boldly advance each of the main characters and allow them to grow. In fact, the vague familiarity of the situation ends up feeling incredibly appropriate, almost as if our heroes are, much like their first year in college, passing by another “life moment” and weathering the metaphorical rocks that smash less-solid friendships to bits, tossing their occupants in opposite directions. Returning to your “home” and routinely reaffirming your status as a family as we move through life is a very present theme in the Whedonverse, a practice clearly not lost on Gage.
In many regards, this new twist on the gang’s implosion and reconnection is a prime example of Gage’s biggest strength during his time in the world of Buffy and Angel & Faith. Demonstrating an obsessive, fan-like knowledge of the intricate details and history of the Buffyverse, Gage has spent his runs on Buffy and Angel & Faith identifying problematic or underdeveloped areas in the characters and/or mythology, addressing the issues at hand directly and laying the path for advancement. In just Issue #28 alone, we see Andrew, a character who, at times, has seemed trapped in his own Jar Jar Binks-like state of excessive foolishness and naivete, allowed to avoid the pitfalls that have tripped him time and again in the past. Changes like this, and Gage’s previous action of finally giving Andrew a moment to address his sexuality and come out, show clearly that we’ll have a much different Andrew Wells by the end of the season.
In fact, we’ll probably have a much different everyone thanks to Gage, and nowhere is this more apparent in this issue than it is with Buffy and Spike. While many (myself included) believed their new relationship would have a shelf life (due to the very nature of dramatic storytelling), Gage has dashed expectations, forcing the Slayer to fight for her relationship and win in the end. As someone who’s followed Buffy since the beginning, it’s amazing to see how far Ms. Summers has come. While Gage stays true to the characters of Spike and Buffy in Season 10, this scene is basically a reversal of Buffy’s argument with Riley in Season 4’s “Doomed.” Instead of arguing the futility of love and how to avoid getting hurt, freshman Buffy’s words are given to William the Bloody and our older and wiser slayer finds herself arguing Riley’s former case: that the potential for a great future together is worth the risk of the possible pain if things go downhill. The juice is worth the squeeze.
I don’t know how many times I can type Rebekah Isaacs is amazingly talented, but if she keeps putting out work of this caliber, I’ll keep typing it. In addition to another issue of exceptional interiors, she provides a variant cover full of classic Buffy/Spike romantic angst that fans will surely gobble up.
– In addition to being a reversal of the situation between Buffy and Riley in “Doomed,” Spike and Buffy’s debate about breaking up covers a lot of ground originally brought up by Angel in Buffy: Season 3’s “Prom” episode, before he makes his decision to leave Sunnydale.
– I really like that Gage’s version of Spike and Buffy growing as a couple doesn’t mean completely giving up on the “daft poet’s notion that true love conquers all,” while still addressing and progressing past their fears and unrealistic expectations of each other.
– There’s a nice nod to the infamous “shrimpverse.” I appreciated that.
– In fact, in regards to the whole multiverse tour, Isaacs and Gage do a great job of communicating the epic and varied quality of the journey Dawn and Xander take to get home and fill it to brim with that quirky, trademark Buffy sense of humor.
– What’s Buffy’s plan? Anyone got a guess?
– Did Xander hit the gymverse on the way home? ‘Cause he’s making for some damn fine eye candy in this issue. #HotXander.
– And, finally, I admit it. I was wrong when I mistakenly thought Buffy murdered Archduchess Venobia last issue with a neck-snapping kick. Nice to know our hero hasn’t become a merciless murderer of those who disagree with her.
FINAL VERDICT: Buffy: Season 10 #28 is not a super action-heavy issue, but it is easily one of the best yet from this season.
That’s all for now, my fellow comic book sniffers. I’ll see ya next month!
‘Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer