"Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10" #24 takes the series one step closer to its finale, and as such, Christos Gage and returning guest artist Megan Levens start to wrap up some long-running story elements. Though the Restless Door's status is finally resolved, there's a certain element of anticlimax hovering over this issue in particular.
To be fair, there's still one more chapter to go in this current story arc, so it could be that we're going to get something more satisfying next month. Regardless, this chapter lacks a bit of oomph in its storytelling. Part of the problem is that it feels like we're on a bit of a retread for a portion of the comic. The argument that opens the issue is a little tired at this point; it's understandable that Gage wants to refresh the reader so the cliffhanger is better set up, but the conflict between Buffy and Giles is distinctly lackluster. As the book moves forward, showing relationship problems between several of the characters, there's no denying we've seen all of this before. Aside from Xander finally confronting the fake Anya, there's little that stands out as attention-grabbing.
Unfortunately, the same is true even when we get to the fight in the Black Diamond mines. The fight is a lot of "I can't help you right now" over and over again, and the eventual defeat of the bad guys and the destruction of the Restless Door -- something that should come across as really exciting --just sort of happens, with no strong fanfare or burst of energy. Even the cliffhanger -- which brings up a character trait that's been largely ignored (and once again, carefully set up by Gage several pages earlier) -- isn't quite a moment that will make readers beg to find out what happens next. Maybe it's because the larger villain of the series is currently wrapping up a storyline over in "Angel & Faith Season 10," but there's just no energy here, even though there's nothing bad about Gage's script on a clinical level; it just isn't quite fun enough, something that almost never happens with Gage's contributions to this line of comics.
Levens has been filling in for regular artist Rebekah Isaacs, and she's a solid choice, but I do think that every now and then her likenesses slip a bit, making recognition just a bit harder. The opening page of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10" #24 has a Buffy that doesn't really look like Buffy at all and more like a generic blond-haired woman. On the other hand, Levens' Xander always looks spot-on, as do Spike and Willow. While the fight itself isn't terribly exciting, Levens does a good job of making it very easy to follow (and Buffy there looks much more like her normal self, which is an added bonus).
Next month's wrap up of this story arc will hopefully have a bit more spring to its step; this issue isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also not quite up to par with what one has come to expect from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10" on the whole. The defeat of some of the bad guys and the destruction of the Restless Door should have felt much more exciting than this, but -- now that the series can move towards the finale at full speed -- hopefully that fun will roar back to its normal levels.