Jumping right in to the comics reviews…
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9, “Slayer, Interrupted”
Buffy’s pregnant, and I’m a fan! Of everything Season 9 has going for it. In both titles. Throw in the impending XXXX XX XXXX spoiled by Dark Horse’s upcoming cover of Issue 8, and it is very clear Joss Whedon is sticking to this world without magic.
By throwing these very real obstacles in Buffy’s path this year and by eliminating the quick fix magic has been for practically everything, Whedon successfully shows there are no easy solutions to the problems of your twenties: they are the time to figure things out on your own without the easy availability of parents or teachers to guide you. This return of the relatable Buffy we know and love is not my only reason to celebrate Issue 5, however.
“Slayer, Interrupted” is also filled with incredible amounts of symbolism, even in its selection of artist. The choice of Karl Moline establishes this as a critical turning point as we inch closer to the end of our current age and the beginning of Melaka Fray’s. After pencilling Fray, “Time of Your Life,” and “Goddesses and Monsters,” it’s fitting for Moline to illustrate this portion of Willow’s journey as well, as she departs on a quest to rebuild the scythe, a quest that ultimately leads her to become the Madwoman in the distant future.
Angel & Faith, “Daddy Issues, Part One”
Across the pond, things are equally as exciting in Angel & Faith land as Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs give us yet another glorious Giles flashback that had me jumping and gasping at every panel as the young, pre-Ripper Rupert witnessed the slaughter of his childhood friends in a Watchers’ Academy final exam gone horribly awry. Throughout the issue, they continue to build the momentum of the latest mystery with dynamic dialogue and amazing art all the way through the end. I was blown away by the quick panel by panel scene changes reminiscent of some of the series’ best episodes. All of this led to the equally huge reveals of Faith’s previously unmentioned father and the monster of the week’s identity as an all too SANE Drusilla.
Isaacs so nailed her depiction of Dru in the final panels that I felt the same chills creep through my body as when I watched the sultry vamp glide gracefully into the violently frightening final moments of Angel’s “The Trial.”
Dru’s sanity also has my inner fanboy bouncing with giddiness as it shows Whedon, as executive producer, hasn’t abandoned all the growth his characters went through during the amazing later arcs of IDW’s run of Angel comics. I hope we get a mention of her brief re-ensoulment, if not of her stay at MOSAIC.
Locke & Key: Clockworks, “Chapter 4: The Whispering Iron”
Finally, back in America, but in Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Massachusetts in 1988, the Keepers of the Keys venture into the drowning caves to unlock the Black Door for a piece of the Whispering Iron. Clockworks continues to be heavy on the exposition, and while every issue of Locke & Key is worth the agonizingly long wait, “Chapter 4” left me a little less than satisfied. It has its high points as it fleshes out scenes only glimpsed in characters’ hazy memories and explains certain rules surrounding the keys: how a key to the front door allows only children to see the magic, how only the Omega Key opens the door to demon land and all others reveal only more cave, and how the house chooses the most innocent among its inhabitants to show its wonders.
Again, all things I’ve wanted to know, but “The Whispering Iron” fails by not providing a single appearance of our core cast. Where are Tyler and Kinsey as they watch their father’s past unfold? What about little Bode with his spirit trapped on the other side of the Ghost Door as his siblings journey through time? And, what hell is the evil Dodge going to unleash now that he has possession of the Omega Key in the present? These are the characters I care for most and would have been fine with just one small panel to show their statuses.
Even though Locke & Key: Clockworks isn’t their strongest entry, Hill and Rodriguez are still putting out the best book in comics right now and have me eagerly anticipating the series’ end yet wanting it to go on forever at the same time.