Following the close of the first big arc on the new season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, writer Christos Gage launched into another fun arc that saw the Scoobies deal with ghosts of the haunted house variety even as they discussed some real-life, immediate problems such as housing. Christos’ consistency on the title was matched by guest artists Karl Moline and Cliff Richards who did a great job of staying consistent themselves with how Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson had handled things before and together the three of them delivered another great Scoobies adventure..
This week’s new issue sees Xander moving in with Spike, which is followed by some excellent bonding and bromance between the two, and also sees the rest of the gang dealing with their own problems, such as coming to terms with some of the recent changes in their lives. A good part of the issue is devoted to how Xander feels about Dawn, and how Spike feels about Buffy and that was kind of fun, to see some of the lingering threads addressed here. As always, I only have good things to say about this creative team, and nothing negative since they are so damn good each month..
I mentioned last time that the big problem facing the team was a lack of proper, affordable housing for all of them, in addition to having funds as well. Then everything with a particular haunted house happened and now many of the Scooby gang’s problems are over. But, new problems are arising now since Xander is moving in with Spike and they hit it off in kind of a bad way from the get go, arguing about living space and possessions and what not. The focal point of the issue is what they feel for their former love interests, Dawn and Buffy respectively, and it comes into play often enough that they even consider writing something in the Book of Magic to make it a magical law that they should be with the ones they love.
How that turns out for them is something I enjoyed a hell of a lot. With these two, both Christos Gage and Nicholas Brendon are really hitting the mark. Brendon is of course the actor who portrayed Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer so his insights and his writing are more than welcome here. Both characters are absolutely nailed and their little action-adventure after a night of heavy-drinking leaves little to the imagination.
Month after month Christos has been delivering something fantastic, and now with Nicholas Brendon at his side, he seems to be getting even better, something I hadn’t thought possible since Christos’ writing was already top-notch. That holds true for this issue as well. More than just focusing on Xander and Spike, the two writers also allow the focus to shift occasionally to Buffy and Giles to show how the rest of the gang is hanging on under the new circumstances and whether or not a dramatic intervention is necessary.
More than anything though, the bonding between Xander and Spike is the best thing about this issue. And as the cover depicts, Christos and Nicholas bring back Anya in her ghostly form as well, to continue showing a side of Xander that would otherwise not be shown, or something along those lines, and to remind the reader that she is indeed a core part of the Scooby gang, even in death. I loved seeing Anya again, and I was left wanting more by the end of the issue, so hopefully she pops back again soon.
And there was also a brief thing about Giles having a better time of late, now that some of his own financial troubles are over, plus a great scene involving him, Buffy and D’hoffryn which underscored their relationships with each other. Fantastic stuff.
Penciller Rebekah and colourist Dan are back for this issue now and it is great to see them back so soon, after the interlude of the previous month. Given events as they happen here, there is a certain energy and excitement and liveliness in the issue that comes through really well. And you really get to feel yourself what the character are feeling, thanks to the great characterwork from Rebekah, who continues to be awesome. If there is anything here that confused me, it is the cover by Steve Morris. What on Earth is up with that cut-away bit in the middle? I just don’t get it.
A strong continuation of the new arc, that’s what this issue is.