BEHIND BUFFY SEASON 10: Gischler Splits Up "Angel & Faith" #2

Despite the title of their monthly Dark Horse comic, Angel and Faith have started their year by going solo.

In its opening issues, "Angel & Faith Season 10" -- half of the canonical continuation of Joss Whedon's legendary Buffyverse -- has split its pair up to chase different wrinkles caused by the return of magic. So while the story of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" remains a happy homecoming for the Scooby gang, "Angel & Faith" is a more down and dirty look at the new rules of the universe in the hands of writer Victor Gischler and artist Will Conrad.

BEHIND BUFFY SEASON 10: Gage Leads a Scooby Reunion

In our latest installment of BEHIND BUFFY SEASON 10 -- a monthly look at the stories of the Buffyverse -- Gischler joins to the fray to explain how he's taken on the task of writing a monthly series after his well received stint on Dark Horse's "Spike" mini, why Angel and Faith each have their own demons to struggle with as Season 10 begins, what hidden threats lie in a world of possessed rock stars and punk pixies and how the grand scheme of the season will develop over this first story arc, which continues this week in issue #3.

CBR News: Victor, writing "Angel & Faith" is not only a change for your role in the Buffyverse, it's also a change for the characters themselves, as our leads aren't starting this story as a team. In a broad sense, what was the attraction to putting both Angel and Faith on their own paths to start this season?

Victor Gischler: After leaving it the way we did at the close of Season Nine, it wouldn't have been right to just have Angel and Faith doing their thing, business as usual. Faith has come a long way and really grown as a character, and she's earned some time for herself as a character, time apart from Angel to do her own thing and think her own thoughts without the weight of being half a duo on her shoulders. And this Magic Town thing is brand new. Somebody needs to stick around and keep an eye on the place, and that's Angel. Chris [Gage] left me in good shape, with a bunch of fun rabbits to chase.

At this point, it seems like the theme of the first arc for both our leads is "adjusting to the new job." But we also know that first arcs on the Buffy comics are often about opening up the big pitch for the series more often than they are about settling in. How much can we trust either status quo in general at this point?

You're going to see some of both, but I think the most obvious stuff -- as you astutely noted -- is the settling in. We'll have plenty of time to crank it to eleven, but right now, these characters are coming down from big things last season. So yeah, adjusting, settling in -- good choice of words.

Looking at the particular moments of issue #2, we open up with a farewell to young Giles and, in some ways, a farewell to the story of last season. Our boy's take on this parting is that Faith has the wherewithal to be a loner, more so than Buffy, so she'll be all right, but I'm having my doubts. How right is Giles about her ability to bounce back solo?

I think by now we know that both of our cool slayer ladies are tough, but I don't think they're tough in exactly the same way. Is Giles right? Well, answering that might be a spoiler but I think it's good enough to say that he could be right. It's something that's believable when you hear it. Does Faith have the ability to be a loner? To function as one? I don't think that question stretches the imagination very much. But does she want to be a loner? That's a little more interesting of a question. I think she needs some time to ask herself those sorts of questions.

On Angel's side of the coin, we've got a new role for Nadira, as Magic Town seems to have had a lot of unexpected, transformative impacts. But I think most readers are probably worried that her seeming embracing of Angel is more sinister than it appears at first blush. Last issue, we had a young boy warning that "she" was warning folks there to stay away from him? Are shades of Nadira's old grudge still alive?

I think we're seeing a new Nadira here. Not that old feelings just vanish, but this is a Nadira who sees the bigger picture. How Angel reacts to this new Nadira is more of an issue.

More importantly, Angel seems to see a bit of Drusilla in Nadira's new setup. Do you think his reading is right on here, or might there still be some benevolence in how she's set herself up?

It's a natural sort of suspicion. He's too smart not to at least consider the possibility. He's been through too much just to take things on face value.

Of course, the main action of the issue is focused on crooked pixie Corky Smallwood, who's responsible for one of the major action pieces of this issue, amongst other things. Looking at Will Conrad's art, I was struck at how adept he seems to be at capturing not just the likeness of the actors we know from the series, but also the demonisms of the magical creatures from Joss Whedon's shows. How does our "porky" bruiser reflect what you hope to do in terms of worldbuilding on that front as you and Will move forward?

There was a lot of talk about pixies and Minoboars (Boaritaurs?) and other denizens of Magic Town when we were gearing up for this first arc. [Editor] Scott Allie was immediately concerned by the word "pixie" since the word conjures up a cute image for some people. I assured him I wanted something gnarly and nasty. I think the "porky bruiser" was originally going to just be a plain old Minotaur, and Scott said we didn't have to settle for run of the mill monsters from the handbook. Scott Fischer jumped in to help with the designs and we did the Boar version of the Minotaur. So yeah, there's been plenty of monster talk. You'll see demons and vampires, of course, because it's a Buffyverse book, but we're trying to mix it up too.

That was a lot of warm up to say that -- yeah -- Will Conrad is nailing it. It's much easier to world build when you have a great artist like Will backing you up. (As well as Scott F. on covers.)

Let's talk about Inspector Brandt. As the new character in the book, he's the x-factor of the series so far. What does the latest human ready to get tied up in the craziness of the Buffyverse represent for you this season?

I think Brandt serves a couple of useful purposes. First, we need to remember that Magic Town -- with all of its demons and creatures -- is smack dab in the middle of London, with millions of humans living there. It would be odd not to see one once in a while. Although, yes, we have the wonderful aunts and some others. London can't just pretend Magic Town isn't there, so Brandt also acts as a law enforcement liaison with the "normal" world. That's how he's "useful," but I'm also looking forward to exploring who he is as a character. I mean, what kind of guy volunteers to be the copper who goes into Magic Town with the demons and vamps and a hundred other things that might rip the skin off your body and eat it?

Back on Faith's side of the book, her early interactions at Deepscan show that she might not entirely be a team player. Is that a strength for this job or just a sign that her playing bodyguard is not long for this world?

There are two questions here to think about. Can she function in such an environment? And does she want to? There's no automatic answer to either question, but I think the second is more interesting. But there is always the possibility a character can fall flat on her face.

I'm betting we'll get some more answers on that front next month thanks to this Billy Rage cliffhanger. I don't doubt that Faith has the ability to handle this guy in terms of the demon-punching requirements, but what does her position as a person being asked to defend this d-bag say about her story moving into issue #3 and beyond?

Exactly. One might have the ability to do a job -- but is it worth doing? It would be a much easier world to live in if there were black and white answers. It's those gray areas that get you.

"Angel & Faith Season 10" #3 is on sale June 4 from Dark Horse Comics.

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