This week, Identity Crisis and Justice League writer Brad Meltzer takes over the Buffy The Vampire Slayer comic, bringing a more superheroic tone. Why does it make the book the best it's been in years? Here's our spoiler-free take.
Maybe it's just me, but the Buffy comic has seemed to be drifting ever since... the Fray arc, perhaps? But that's a year of issues that have seemed disjointed and lacking ever since, with plots seeming to run too long, or come out of nowhere before disappearing again (That whole "vampires are now hip" thing, for example); even Jane Espenson's last few issues have disappointed, despite the reappearance of Oz for the first time in years. The magic, it seemed, was gone.
Meltzer's first issue - #32, the first chapter of "Twilight" and subtitled "Buffy Has F#@$ing Superpowers" - very quickly brings that magic back by being something that the comic hasn't been for too long: Fun. Funny, too, and funny in a way that stretches beyond Andrew being a nerd, although this is also the nerdiest issue of Buffy to date, with very specific call-outs in dialogue (Fans of old-school Marvel/DC crossovers will get a thrill at one point), captioning (Meltzer has clearly been reading Matt Fraction's Uncanny X-Men) and even art; the background joke on the last page is both random and logical at once, and also hilarious. It's this irreverence to the Big Bad and Sense of Danger that Meltzer brings to the book that refreshes it so quickly, and also makes you more aware of what's been lacking for so long as foreshadowing and the building of tension got overtaken with selfimportance and leaden storytelling.
That's not to say that there's nothing here beyond the humor; we get an explanation for Buffy's superpowers far quicker than I'd expected, and it's a major status quo change that validates the entire "Retreat" arc in a way I didn't expect, and as Twilight begins to make his move, certain allegiances shift again in unexpected ways. Things start to happen again, in other words, and there's a sense of an endgame being approached - or even existing - that hasn't been here in a long time.
Buffy #32 is a return to form for the series, and from the most unexpected of sources; I wasn't that much a fan of Meltzer's previous comic work at DC but here, he's found a speed and lightness that I hadn't seen from him before, one that suits the Whedonverse and serves, hopefully, to remind all the other writers remaining on the series that Buffy and friends work best when the melodrama is tempered with humor and comedy.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer #32 is released on Wednesday.