Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Comic review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten #14

I haven't reviewed the Buffyverse comics in a long time. Many things have changed, the most notable being that the main Buffy series has become the stronger one, quality wise. This issue is not quite as strong, but more as a mildly disappointing misstep than reason to panic.

To start with something great, Rebekah Isaacs has returned as artist. While there was nothing wrong with Megan Levens, hers is the style I most associate with the Buffyverse comics, especially since she has drawn both sides of the universe for a significant time, so her return just makes the art feel right.

The writing feels both slow and rushed, which is a confusing combination. It comes from trying to do serious world building in a two issue arc. The world building is digging deeper into the vampire mythology by expanding the idea of vampires being a combination of demon and human. Unfortunately, it falls apart in explaining how that relates to bloodlines; they are saying that the demon in a vampire is passed down along bloodlines, so that The Master, Darla, Angel, Drusilla, and Spike are all the same demon, with some differences based on who they were as a human. It's unclear if this interpretation by the characters is correct, but it feels strange adding this, after 254 TV episodes and 126 comic issues, making it feel like a retcon, but without a clear purpose.
The mythology comes from Buffy traveling through Spike's memories and leading to Archeus, the demon committing the murders that Spike was seeing. Most of the issue is spent there before going to fight him. The problem is, it's not clear what Archeus is; creating The Master and being pure demon implies he would be an Old One, similar to Illyria, with a design to match that power, but he's not treated as nearly that powerful. Instead, he is there to make Spike attack Buffy, and not much else. This feels like the fight against Eyghon from Anget & Faith last season, which also featured a demon taking over Spike to attack his allies, but Eyghon was not implied to be nearly as powerful and using others as weapons was his main method of fighting, making this all feel a bit too familiar. It seems to be building to a specific payoff, but without knowing what that is, this feels oddly structured, something I don't usually say about Gage's writing.

Despite all that, there is good in the writing. Gage excels in getting the characters' voices spot on, passing my test of "Can I hear the actor saying those lines? each time. This also goes to the small character moments, which work despite the story's shakier moments, but they are smaller moments compared to the bigger story.

Overall, there are good pieces, and I enjoyed reading this comic, it just suffers from odd structure and pacing, which is hopefully just a minor bump in an otherwise strong series.

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