Sure, last month Dark Horse Comics pulled a tongue-in-cheek fakeout as to the identity of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8" villain Twilight when the publisher teased the Big Bad's true identity would hit in March's issue #33 before revealing a mock cover showing President Obama as Twilight. But when today's April Dark Horse solicitations landed on CBR, a different identity was floated for the black-clad bad guy, and this time it's all too real.
Twilight is none other than Buffy's former love, the vampire known as Angel.
"We knew from the get go. It was back in January of four years ago when I found out that Angel was Twilight," "Buffy" editor Scott Allie explained to CBR in an exclusive first interview. "It sounds funny saying that. I've kept that secret for four years, so it feels funny saying out loud to a reporter from CBR that Angel is Twilight. I've tried so hard not to let those words slip!"
And while one day in the reveal certainly has Buffy fans worked up across message boards and on Twitter under the hashtag #twilightisangel, Allie is more than happy to breath a sigh of relief that he doesn't have to sit on the secret any longer. "At the Baltimore convention this past year, I had driven there overnight and hadn't slept in like 36 hours. Then I did a panel with [artists] Jo [Chen] and Georges [Jeanty,] and somebody asked a question about Twilight. I replied by saying, 'Yeah, well An...' and then I caught myself! Instead of saying 'Angel' I said 'Another' and just started vamping and trying to come up with a sentence to cover the fact that I just spilled that Angel was Twilight. But I covered and was able to conceal the secret. Georges looked at me like he was going to kill me. That was the closest I came to blowing it."
Though the editor was quick to note that while the secret was out there, plenty more twists and turns lie ahead for superstar novelist and comic writer Brad Meltzer's superhero-centric arc on the series (starting in February's #32) and right on into Buffy creator Joss Whedon's return to the series after that. In fact, Allie stressed that assuming a flat out battle between Buffy and Angel was the next step in the story would be wrong. "'The Big Bad' is a phrase that originated from Joss in 'Buffy' – this idea that in a season you might have a whole lot of people to fight, but there's one Big Bad, one major villain that you have to defeat at the end. But this is not like that," he explained. "Right now it feels to everybody on the outside like, 'Oh, the cat's out of the bag! Twilight is Angel!' but the question [of how the end game rolls out that] all the fans are asking is not really the right question. If this was any other book and Twilight was any other villain, that would be the question to ask. But the question right now is 'How does Buffy react to the fact that Twilight is Angel?' It's not as simple anymore as 'Now we've got to deal with the bad guy.'
"In the early days of my working with Joss, there was something he said to me about working in this field, and that is 'It's all about relationships.' I remembered that, and it's been a guiding principal in my career. That line jumped back at me this morning thinking about this spoiler being out there. Because it is all about relationships – if it was any other villain, it'd just be a question of who kills who, but it's a much bigger question than that. Who's going to ally themselves with Angel and Twilight? There are still some big surprises in store. It's not as clear as it appears to be with those covers slipped out."
One immediate concern fans may have over the news that Angel and Twilight are one and the same is exactly what that means for the character's own canonical comic book series, which just recently wrapped its "After The Fall" continuation of his spinoff TV series for IDW Publishing. While IDW continue to tell stories with the character under the pen of writer Bill Willingham, Allie promised that Whedon had plans to reconcile both versions to make a cohesive Buffyverse. "I talked to Chris [Ryall] at IDW last night, and I'm going to talk to him today to reassure him that it all connects and it's all going to jibe. That's one thing we wanted to reassure him of and to make clear. This isn't going to be some big conflict with the IDW continuity. It's all going to be made to work."
And "making it work" appears to have become the theme for Dark Horse and the entire "Buffy Season 8" project as the continued story of the vampire slayer, her gathering of pals and her new army of slayers has changed and adapted in many ways while still retaining Whedon's master plan. "There was a lot of pliability. As I've said before, when 'Season 8' first got handed to me, for years Joss and I had already been talking about doing 'Season 8' and what we would do. The big question was who was going to write it, or how it was going to be managed. We never, ever imagined that he'd be involved as he wound up being. We thought we'd give Jane Espenson an outline, and she'd go to town with it, or we'd get someone like her to run the project. Then what happened is one day Joss just e-mailed me a script for 'Buffy' #1 and said, 'We're going to do Season 8. I'm going to write the first four. We'll see what happens after that.'"
Four years ago, Whedon wrote out a "Buffy Manifesto" which included the identity of Twilight and was circulated under strictest confidence to Dark Horse editorial and the various comic and TV writers who would be contributing to the series. Still, the outline didn't specify exactly how each piece of the story would roll out, much like Whedon runs a TV series. "There was a lot of room for the writers to do their own thing and contribute their own ideas, but it was always being managed by Joss to keep it steered towards the ultimate goal," Allie said. "He knew all the major points and all the major bits, but he wanted to give each writer some individual freedom on their arcs. Like, when Drew Goddard wrote the third arc, Joss would say, 'Here are the big things we're going to hit, but what do you feel like doing?' And Drew said, 'I'd love to do Japan, and I like Godzilla.' So the fact that Buffy went to Japan in the third arc was Drew's idea, but the major points in the story were from Joss' outline. Then they'd get together and figure out how to use Japan to further the story of Twilight and the building of the Slayer army and all of that."
The final pieces of the Angel as Twilight reveal came into play as writer Jane Espenson broke out her "Retreat" arc while Whedon decided what pieces would carry over to Meltzer's own story. "At the end of Jane's arc, Buffy gets superpowers. That was set up to play to Brad's strengths as a big superhero buff. When it came time for him to start writing, Brad said, 'I really want to play with this Superman stuff, and I can do that through Xander who's also a superhero buff.' And it was through their initial conversations we knew how much of focus we were going to place on Buffy as a superhero," Allie revealed.
"We never had everything about it planned out too far in advance, and until a couple of weeks ago, there were questions about how far Brad's arc would go. Because this reveal of Twilight as Angel is a pretty big shift in what's going on, but what that means and what happens next readers still don't know. And there's a bunch of landmarks and reveals between his revelation and the end of the series. Up until a week ago, we weren't sure how many of those would be in Brad's arc and what would be left for Joss. But now we're pretty clear on what happens in Brad's final issue."
Check back to CBR in the coming months for all the news surrounding "Buffy Season 8" from Twilight's broader plan to Whedon's own return to the characters, and sound off on today's revelation on the CBR Message Boards!