“Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10” #18 wraps up “Old Demons,” the three-part Buffy/Angel team-up that finds them trying to stop the demon Archaeus. While the renewed conflict between Angel and Spike is the high point of the comic, the actual end of the fight against Archaeus leaves a little something to be desired.
Don’t get me wrong, having a strong character interaction isn’t a bad thing; if anything, it’s handled with a lot of grace and thoughtfulness. Christos Gage understands the eternal conflict between Angel and Spike and, if anything, that adds an extra level of maturity to it. The moment that will almost certainly grab readers’ attention is that final page, as Angel gives Willow his long-term prediction for the Buffy and Spike relationship. It’s harsh and it’s depressing, even as Angel explains it in a way that builds on every single thing we’ve learned to date about immortals in the Buffy universe. True or not, Gage has given us a haunting warning that will hover over the cast of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10” for some time.
On the other hand, the actual fight against Archaeus — with the exception of the Angel/Spike moment there — is really forgettable. There’s nothing that stands out in terms of the fighting and, if anything, the wrap-up is almost immediately undone. Essentially, both the villain and his weapon have just been passed down the line for future battles and/or usages. There’s no real conclusion here, just a stop-gap measure. At the end of a three-issue fight, it ultimately neuters the character a bit and makes him less interesting; Buffy and company didn’t necessarily have to destroy him for this to stand out, but this feels like it was fairly pointless in terms of that portion of the story.
Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson happily do a nice job on the art. Her likenesses are good here, especially on Buffy and Willow, although even less prominent characters like Dawn come across well. While the fight itself feels a bit pointless, the choreography as they duke it out is certainly fast-moving on the page. The squad trying to destroy the box looks perpetually overwhelmed as Isaacs draws them, and Jackson’s coloring makes the mystical energies stand out in deliberately crowded panels.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10” #18 is the sort of comic that promises A but delivers B instead. While B (in this case a mini-treatise on immortals in the Buffy universe) is good and feeds in well to the overall character development of the cast, it’s still a little frustrating to not get anything in A (the fight against Archaeus) to sink one’s teeth into. Still, considering how consistent the book has been overall under Gage and Isaacs, a slide into just-alright territory is by no means the end of the world. I’m still sticking around to see how this plays out. Not a bad issue, but not the strongest in the series either.