Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten #7 shows that Spike and Xander together as roommates is both comedic and dramatic gold. Christos Gage and Nicholas Brendon land joke after joke starting with the first page where Spike asks Xander to move over his “dolls” so he can have room for his hundreds (possibly thousands) of Soap Digests. (Vampires watching soap operas makes weird, yet logical sense. You have to do something to pass the time while the sun is up, and not everyone can read Jean-Paul Sartre in the original French like Angel.) Artist Rebekah Isaacs adds some more humor with her spot-on reaction shots of the other characters’ faces to Spike and Xander’s odd couple antics. An issue of Spike and Xander trading banter would be an entertaining read in and of itself, but Gage and Brendon do what Buffy did and still does best by mixing its comedy with a heavy helping of interpersonal drama and a focus on character relationships. Beyond the hilarious banter, hijinks, and strange, yet fitting baddie, Spike and Xander have a lot in common.
The biggest thing they share is an unrequited for women with the last name Summers. Their relationships with Buffy and Dawn are a big part of Buffy #7 as both men have strong platonic relationships with the other’s love. Buffy and Dawn also make short, but important appearances in this issue to add to the comedy and drama of the story respectively. Even eleven years after it went of the air, Buffy continues to be sharp and self-aware with Buffy comparing the Scooby Gang’s current living situation to the sitcom Friends, and Spike gently parodying the superhero genre again, like he did in an early episode of Angel. Brendon and Gage make plenty of references to events of the Buffy TV show, but they don’t dwell on it and continue to develop the characters and their relationships while also furthering the “season’s” plot of rewriting the rules of magic. The two are intertwined as Giles is tempted to rewrite them so he’ll be an adult again, and Xander is doubly tempted to either make Dawn love him again after losing her memories in Buffy Season Nine or making ghost Anya corporeal. Brendon and Gage use this magic as a metaphor to show how hard it is to move on after a serious relationship continuing the Whedonverse’s tradition of using supernatural elements to explore real human problems.
Rebekah Isaacs’ art helps with the blend of comedy and drama that Buffy #7 so deftly mixes up. Spike and Xander go through a full emotional range in this issue, and she is there to show how an all out slugfest turns into a guys’ trip to the pub because Spike isn’t a “masochist”, like Angel. (This is clever because in the show it always seemed that Xander was always trying to punch or insult Angel, and Angel like using Xander as bait.) Isaacs also shows great timing with her beat panels that mark a shift from comic to serious and make the reading experience more natural. Isaacs and colorist Dan Jackson make the characters look like they did on the TV show, but they also help make settings natural and lived in with an even color palette and background details, like posters, “maquettes”, or flat screen TVs at the pub. Buffy #7 succeeds as entertainment with its sense of humor and clear art and also connects to the larger arc of Buffy Season Ten. It is also a great introduction to the Buffyverse comic for fans of the show and especially Spike and Xander. Having Nicholas Brendon along for the ride has given Xander his best characterization since he lost his eye.