The previous two "seasons" of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" comics had a lot of highs and lows; one month you'd be greatly enjoying the continuation of the television series with a story that was smart and beautifully drawn, the next month the book would take a huge stumble. Thanks to the consistently strong "Angel & Faith" companion comic to the previous series courtesy Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs, it felt like the main title was the weak link more often than not. Dark Horse seems to have fixed that problem, though, with Gage and Isaacs now the creative team for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10." Based on this first issue, I think we've got a lot of fun in store.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10" #1 quickly sets up the new status quo, as partially sketched out at the end of the last series. Magic's been restored to the universe, Buffy and company are mopping up the debris, and the zompires are no longer being created. But of course, now is when Buffy shouldn't let her guard down, as what should be a routine battle against vampires turns tricky in the blink of an eye.
Gage's sense of pacing is great; he starts with a seemingly normal situation, and then piece-by-piece he adds in new plot elements. With each new piece of the puzzle, the situation is transformed into something more interesting and harder to deal with. It's a great progression, and the end result is a first issue that will keep "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans interested from start to finish.
It certainly doesn't hurt that these new ideas all feel fairly interesting. Buffy's new alliance, the latest supernatural surprises that the vampires have pulled out, and even the new conversation partner of Xander all hold a lot of potential on where Gage will be taking "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10." This book is bursting with ideas, but at the same time it also doesn't feel overly full. It helps that it's a mixture of plot and character moments; relationships going off-track and the addition of Billy into the mix being balanced out with dangerous new abilities and magical twists. In other words, it's everything a fan -- of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or just good comics -- should want in a story. So often the balance can shift too much in one direction or the other, but Gage handles it well here.
Isaacs' art was excellent in "Angel & Faith" and she continues that trend in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10." Like before on the sister book, Isaacs handles drawing likenesses quite well, a feat that isn't easy. Some of them, like Spike, look so much like they did on the screen that it's uncanny. The bottom of page 4 is a perfect example, with Buffy's nervous smile in response to Spike making her instantly familiar, even if you might have been thrown by her shorter hair that she's sporting these days. Isaacs is also still strong when it comes to the action sequences, too. When Buffy swings around the edge of the van with the Slayer Scythe, you can practically see the movement as she hangs onto Spike's hand. It's energetic and lively, two adjectives you rarely see in comics where actor likenesses are a must.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10" #1 gives me a lot of high hopes for this series. Dark Horse has brought their A-game talent to this comic, and it shows. An excellent debut that fans should be appropriately ecstatic over.