After the up-and-down nature of the two previous comic book seasons, it’s a real relief to find “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10” continuing to move at such a strong, even keel. While normally I’d be a bit more worried about the addition of a show’s star as a co-writer, Christos Gage, Nicholas Brendon and Rebekah Isaacs demonstrate how well it can be done.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10” #5 closes out its story on the ever-shifting nature of magic, coupled with the disastrous transformation of Dracula into one of the Old Ones, in the way that the best stories in this series do: a mixture of supernatural and old-fashioned smarts. I appreciate that Gage and Brendon don’t treat magic as a crutch here (no waving the hand to deus ex machina everything away), but rather as a tool that like anything else needs a good idea to solve problems. Dracula’s defeat (since there’s more of a series to come, it’s not a spoiler to note that he doesn’t in fact destroy all life on the planet) requires both halves of the equation in order for things to work properly.
But while the resolution of the problems that face Buffy and her crew are fun (and the lead-in with the “lobbyists” to come is fairly brilliant), it’s the character work that Gage and Brendon serve up here that really grabs my attention. It’s not surprising that this story is still a little Xander-specific since it’s Brendon’s first storyline, but here’s the great thing: it doesn’t feel forced and if anything gives some meat to a character that’s been a little adrift as of late. His relationship with Dawn is poignant here, but the other relationships on the table — with Dracula, for instance, or his deceased fiancee Anya — are also brought into focus. It’s a strong focus on what makes both him and Dawn tick, and it’s that sort of care that makes the title work. Even minor characters like Andrew are getting some good little moments, and overall I’d say everyone is the most on-point they’ve been in a while.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Isaacs’ art looks great as always. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s hard to draw characters who are not only on-model with their real-world counterparts, but look energetic and lifelike rather than still and overly posed. It’s also refreshing to see not only the main cast looking true to form, but even minor characters like Dracula who remind me a great deal of what they looked like on the show. And of course, when it comes to non-show visuals, like Maloker, Isaacs is able to just go hog-wild and have fun. Something as simple as Willow flying up into the air after energizing Dawn looks good, and the big fight makes good use of a two-page spread without resorting to a single splash image.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10” #5 continues the trend of making this series a must-read again. Buffy fans, your complaints have been answered. This comic is a lot of fun and will make you a fan of Buffy and company all over again.