This review contains spoilers.
While Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1 was born to restart the series after a lengthy break, dousing the page with exposition and familiar notes before welcoming both a resurrected Giles and the latest breed of super-vampires to the world, the series’ second issue seemed more concerned with stirring up nostalgia dust by way of a few show-similar moments and advancing the ball a few yards.
Picking up where issue one left off, writer Christos Gage excels at the “Whedon tongue” as Spike, Buffy, and the lot trade quips while fighting back against Vicki and the super vamps, though that situation is resolved in a rather anti-climactic way that completely undermines the value of the previous cliffhanger. Following that frustration, this book yields for a bit of exposition and housekeeping as Eldre Koh makes a brief appearance and Faith picks a direction. This leaves the very pubescent Giles in Buffy’s care, huffing and puffing and trying to figure out the how and why of the super vamp’s new capabilities.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to have Giles back in the narrative fold and Gage will surely find a way to use the character as an asset in coming months, but there is a hope that his physical and intellectual maturity will be expedited because the boy-watcher thing feels a bit stunty. Kudos to Gage for using a tantrum to set up the ground rules of young Giles’ new existence, though. When the character was taken out of this “world” it seemed like it was half done to allow the other primary characters to find their own way (as was done in the show when Tony Head briefly departed) and half to effect Angel’s story, but while Giles is back, that initiated character growth has to continue. Giles fits as an equal and vital cog, not as a savior. Not anymore.
Speaking of things that don’t fit, Gage made some effort to explain ghost Anya’s purpose but it still feels like we’re hearing too much about the Xander/Dawn relationship (yup, still a little icky to type that out) drama from Xander’s side and not enough from Dawn’s, though their current predicament could change that up a little. In many ways, we can draw a parallel between the way Xander and Dawn’s relationship tension is presented and the tension between Buffy and Det. Dowling, though I don’t know if that is on purpose. I like how Gage tries to draw a bold parallel between Dowling and Riley, but in the end, Buffy’s interaction with Dowling feels like either a worthless aside or an appetizer to something bigger.
I’ll venture to assume that the latter is true, primarily because that’s how this entire issue feels. Yes, yes, we need to pace ourselves. Yes, yes, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. But while those things are true, and while there is enjoyment to be found in watching Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs move these characters around the board, the first two issues of this season now feel as if they are the first two installments in an enjoyment layaway plan where someday, SOMEDAY, we’ll get more than hand held and teased toward the next microtransaction.
After seven seasons on television and two plus “seasons” in the comic, we’re either invested in these characters or not. We don’t need cliffhangers and breadcrumbs each time. By all means, tell us this story in two or three part chunks, but give us a beginning, a middle, and an end worthy of that one purchase each time so we’re not constantly asked to look forward to next time.