The Buffy-verse has always been known as a world full of strange things, but with last year’s season finales it’s becoming a whole lot stranger. And now the titular stars of Angel & Faith are wading into it in a new volume of their series titled Angel & Faith: Season 10 beginning on April 2. Last August we saw the vampire and the vampire hunter break up so to speak, with Faith leaving for California and Angel staying behind in the newly christened Magic Town. With this new volume set to launch in April, incoming series writer Victor Gischler says things aren’t back to normal – and most likely never will be.
“We're very much seeing the characters in a transitional place,” says Gischler, who previously wrote the miniseries Spike: A Dark Place. “Angel is orienting himself in Magic Town and discovering exactly how he's going to define his presence there. Faith has come a long way and matured as a character, and she's trying to decide what that means for her also. Where and how these characters fit is a big question.”
One of the key locales for this new series of Angel & Faith is the aforementioned Magic Town, a subsection of London that was “soaked with magic” at the end of Angel & Faith last year, thereby earning its new name. Gischler is excited about the storytelling opportunities Gage left for him after moving over to write the main Buffy: The Vampire Slayer comic series, and says that the community’s new status quo isn’t cut and dried for its residents.
“Much of this season is concerned with the nature of magic, and in Magic Town magic work a bit differently than anywhere else on the planet. So some cool things on the way,” promises the writer.
Meanwhile, Angel’s co-star and former partner Faith was last seen blazing a trail towards San Francisco. When asked about whereabouts come Angel & Faith Season 10 #1, Dark Horse Editor-In-Chief Scott Allie says she’s in a familiar place but with new questions.
“Faith risked everything to support Angel in Season 9,” Allie points out,” and now she's off on her own, solo again, trying to find her purpose.”
According to Gischler, Faith is shaken but possibly on the precipice of something more.
“With Giles going back to do his watcher thing with Buffy (kind of), Faith has gone through a bit of an emotional upheaval. She's coping, but she doesn't have all the answers,” Gischler explains. “Kennedy offers her a jump at Deepscan. We'll see how that turns out.”
Gischler joins Angel & Faith for this new season after previous series creators Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs have segued over to flagship Buffy The Vampire Slayer series. Allie, who has shepherded the Buffy-verse titles since their inception at Dark Horse, says the opportunity to bring in Gischler is one of the favorite aspects of his role at Dark Horse.
“The creative process on these books is one of my favorite things about this job,” The editor reveals. “As we were writing the last arcs of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith, we knew that we were going to have different people writing the books next time around. We were constantly talking through how to have a really good ending to Season 9, while also setting ourselves up properly for Season 10. Sometimes we felt like we were closing too many doors, and had to balance that with wanting some decent closure. The writers summit in Los Angeles for Season 10 took place as we were writing the final issues of Season 9, so we really made sure to leave things in a way that would make it interesting for the next guy to pick it up—and of course the Season 9 writers and the Season 10 writers were all there in the room together. As Andrew Chambliss and Christos Gage were turning in their final scripts of Season 9, and shortly thereafter as Chris and Victor Gischlerwere working on their Season 10 outlines, we had some phone calls with all three of them—Andrew, Chris, Victor—to talk about how to leave things, and how to pick things up. So if the question is how did we do it, we got on the phone a lot, we made sure the writers had the opportunity to compare notes, so everyone had the story they wanted to write, and everyone put the characters in places that we all felt left us the best options for the story.”
Gischler has worked in the Buffy-verse prior with the 2012 miniseries Spike: A Dark Place, but given the full-time commitment to this and the well-received previous volume of Angel & Faith which led to his predecessors being moved to the flagship book, Gischler admitted it was both “exciting and intimidating.”
“Buffy-verse readers are passionate about these characters and I want to do my best for them,” says the Louisiana-based writer. ”Writing Spike: A Dark Place was a great way to get a taste of what it's like to be part of the Dark Horse team, but coming aboard for a whole season is just huge. I was part of a Buffy-verse summit with other writers and editor Scott Allie and Joss Whedon was there too. There was a ton of creativity and smarts flying around that room, and it was just an electric experience. I came away feeling totally pumped.”
Joining Gischler to draw Angel & Faith Season 10 is a true alumni of Buffy-verse and the larger Whedon-verse of comics titles: Will Conrad. Conrad illustrated the first two Serenity comic series, and even served as inker on earlier Buffy The Vampire Slayer comics. For Allie, Conrad was someone he had on his mind for a while to bring back into the fold.
“During Season 9 I was trying to lure him back to do something, but he was too busy at Marvel and DC,” admits Allie. He always talked about how much he wanted to come back to Joss's stuff, but whenever I tried to get him he was too busy.”
After finalizing the plans for the original Angel & Faith artist Rebekah Isaacs to move over to drawing Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season, the opening in Angel & Faith led him to try one more time to get Conrad back in the Buffy-verse.
“Georges Jeanty had drawn most of two seasons on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and replacing him was daunting, but Rebekah did such phenomenal work on Angel & Faith, it was a fairly easy decision. I knew I'd get a book I could be excited about, that the disappointment of not having Georges on the book would be overcome by the excitement of having the woman who drew Angel & Faith. But what did that mean for Angel & Faith? Was that going to be doomed to disappointment? Then I started picturing the book drawn by Will, and I felt that while some people would miss Rebekah, the quality of Will's work would overcome that for the vast majority of the readers. While it's natural to fear change, especially in creative teams, I felt that a lot of people would be excited to see Rebekah take over Buffy, and I felt that a lot of people would be excited to see Will take over Angel & Faith. As much as I love Rebekah's art, I suspect some people will prefer Will. Nobody could look at the work Will's doing and not think we were aiming high.”
Gischler and Conrad have also worked together in the past on Marvel’s X-Men series, and Allie says it’s nice to have “some chemistry” as they begin this new book together. When asked about that chemistry now that they’re on the book and working away on the first issue, Allie says the duo are bringing a palpable “grit and reality” to the series that is apropos given the direction the series is heading towards.
“Also, Victor has a very strange sense of humor, and humor is really important to the Whedonverse, of course. But Victor's particular twist on humor is just right for the darkness of this series,” explains the editor. “In Season 9, we had talked about taking Angel & Faith in a more horror noir direction—before the writers summit that was part of the idea. But then between the writers summit and the work Rebekah and Steve Morris was doing, it took on a lighter tone, a brighter tone. This season, with Will and Victor, I think we get some more of that gothic darkness, and I think the story direction requires it. The team will define the subject matter, and the team is just right for the subject matter.”