Rejoice, rejoice we are about to experience the finest Buffy season in comics to date? Well, perhaps such a declaration is too premature. Season 8 and Season 9 both had solid debut issues as well, after all, but not as refreshingly exhilarating as Season 10‘s opener. The fans cried out repeatedly throughout Angel & Faith that they wanted the phenomenal new creative team of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs to stick together for another round of Buffy. They crafted the most critically acclaimed Dark Horse-published Buffyverse comic since Fray. Even though Angel & Faith didn’t sell as many copies per issue as Buffy Season 9, for those that did read both, it was never a contest as to which comic was consistently better, with Angel & Faith often overshadowing the core title. Dark Horse has strategically promoted Gage and Isaacs to the main title, having faith that the duo’s sophomore effort will be an equal or greater success.
Isaacs has big shoes to fill as the successor of Georges Jeanty, the main illustrator throughout the previous two seasons, and just one issue in, she exudes a confidence and grasp on these characters that Jeanty took some easing into back in early Season 8. Isaacs pulls off some complex expressions on the face of Buffy throughout. Some examples are on page one bottom left panel (the line work around her eyes is extraordinary), page four bottom panel, and page nine top panel. The likenesses to their respective actors is spot on (except for Anya, who looks a little off, and wasn’t immediately recognizable, though that could be attributed to her long absence in the series). There is a lot of action this issue, and Isaacs is a pro at choreographing and framing fight scenes. She often has to juggle many characters at once on the long panels and does so impressively, spaciously providing each character enough room for their respective actions, as seen on the top panels on pages 20 and 21. Dan Jackson’s bright colours pop against Rebekah Isaacs’ thick lines, complementing one another’s styles to perfection. Jackson’s purple sky backgrounds in the night scenes are particularly attractive, and the panels featuring solid-colour background are pleasantly reminiscent of Silver Age comics.
It wouldn’t be a new season of Buffy without yet another new status quo, and Gage is picking up where Andrew Chambliss left off and already making these ideas his own. This season picks up very soon after the previous one left off, and it opens with the jarring alliance of Slayer and Vampire. The restoration of magic put an end to the creation of zompires (vampires sired during Season 9‘s magic blackout were closer to zombies than traditional vampires, hence “zompire”). The remaining zompires are now endangered, and the Scoobies form an unlikely partnership with a gang of traditional-vampires to make them extinct. But it turns out these traditional vampires aren’t quite so traditional, and now possess a lot of new magical abilities (not all vampires have these new abilities, too, as Spike learns the hard way). The issue has a lot of exposition to get through, and Gage makes it as enjoyable as possible. After 25 issues on Angel & Faith, he is already a master at incorporating accurate Whedon-speak at all the right moments.
After spending most of last season apart, Season 10 #1 feels a lot like a reunion for the Scooby Gang, with the friends enjoying many moments together. Everyone seems relatively happy or content, relations are mending, and there’s even a tear-jerking reunion between two characters towards the end (this writer admits no shame in admitting it caused even himself to cry). Naturally, this means things are about to get very bad for our protagonists. Maybe even tragic. Let’s hope Gage and the rest of the Powers That Be grant us a few more issues of happiness for our Scoobies before throwing them into the pits of Hell once again.
Buffy Season 10 is off the best start imaginable, and the future has rarer looked brighter for this universe. Gage and Isaacs are putting a lot of hard work and love into this book, which is sure to please most of the patient Buffyverse fans, and maybe deliver the first truly great season in comics.