"Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 10) #15" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by Rebekah Isaacs
2015, 32 Pages, $3.50
Comic released on May 20th, 2015
Buffy and the Scooby Gang have faced a variety of vampires over the years, including the Master and Dracula himself. Now they're facing off against Archeus, the biggest of the bads and the creator of all things fangy. This demon has an ace up his sleeve though. Despite the fact that Spike is a reformed murderer and in full possession of his soul, he's still susceptible to Archeus' dark influence, causing the vampire to turn on his friends. Of course, this happens right after Buffy and Spike have rekindled their relationship in what looks like a positive way.
This issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is something like 80% fight scene which is pretty awesome to read. That's not what packs the punch though. That comes in the stunning character development from writer Christos Gage. There's a two-pronged approach. The first is with the relationship between Spike and Buffy, which I just learned yesterday is called “Spuffy” by people on the Internet. They have had their ups and downs over the years. When they first got together, neither was in a good place. They've circled each other for some time with Spike carrying a torch for the slayer like a love-sick puppy. At long last they got together what appears to be a really healthy manner for the both of them. They have a very deep bond that comes into play in a major capacity here. Spike is lost within Archeus' will and Buffy is trying to snap him out of it before she's forced to kill him.
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This struggle is very tense to read because you're not sure what's going to happen. This is the Whedonverse after all and no one can ever truly be happy. Characters are most vulnerable just after they achieve some semblance of joy.
The other prong in the aforementioned approach comes from the team dynamic that has always been a key facet of Buffy. You've got the slayer and Spike duking it out while Willow, Lil' Giles, Xander, and Dawn try to fight back Archeus. Separately they can each do some damage, but together, they're infinitely stronger, like a less lame version of Captain Planet. There is a terrific one page spread with only two words of dialogue halfway through this issue that perfectly encapsulates this. Artist Rebekah Isaacs delivered an amazing action pose here showcasing the entire group standing defiant against Archeus.
Speaking of this villain, he looks kind of goofy. This is my only problem with this story arc. The design for Archeus sticks out like a sore thumb. He comes across more goofy than menacing. He's got boney spider legs protruding from his back and these large, boxing-glove-like fists all wrapped in a body that looks like a less shiny version of Lord Zed from the Power Rangers. He seems out of place in this world, which I guess is sort of the point because he's an ancient evil that we haven't encountered in ages.
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Isaacs' rendition of the core cast is rock solid. This is Season 10, so they've all aged a little bit (except for Giles, who is a twelve year old boy because he was killed and then resurrected as such...You should probably read Seasons 8 and 9 if you haven't already.). Each member of the Scooby Gang looks a little older and more mature. They're past that awkward stage of high school and college years, coming into their own as adults.
Gage wraps up the issue with some further character development, tying up a plot thread that's been floating around since the season began. This is at just the right time, as this particular aspect was just starting to get annoying. Gage takes care of this in a very natural and real way that will allow these folks to grow and move on. Am I sounding too vague for you? Maybe you should pick up the book and read it to find out for yourself.
The issue leads directly into another storyline that's bound to kick up some drama, especially on the “Spuffy” front. These characters are facing a dark evil unlike anything they've ever seen, and that's not the most interesting thing going on in the book. At this point I would read an entire issue where they were all just hanging out in their apartment building talking. Gage takes characters that we already cared about and reminds us why we liked them so much to begin with. This, coupled with Isaacs' terrific artwork, makes Buffy a must-read.