Brian K. Vaughan, Georges Jeanty, Andy Owens, Dave Stewart
The second issue of Brian K. Vaughan’s contribution to the Buffy “season eight” project takes a couple of broad steps towards fulfilling the promise of Vaughan’s first issue. Chapter two of this Faith-centered arc opens with a flashback to Buffy’s and Faith’s epic battle in the season three television episode “Graduation Day, Part 1,” wherein Buffy, for all intents and purposes, “killed” Faith (she got better). It was a pivotal scene in an outstanding episode, and sets up this issue of the comic book nicely. In the same way that Faith, on the television show, was a foil for Buffy, essentially her evil twin, Lady Genevieve, the slayer that Faith has been dispatched to assassinate, is, of course, a reflection of Faith herself. This is the kind of blunt metaphorical language the show somehow made work more often than not., indeed to often brilliant effect, and there’s no reason to assume that won’t be the case here, particularly given Vaughan’s remarkable skill in adapting his writing style to match that of the Buffy show and comic book seamlessly.
Vaughan also takes greater advantage of the comic book format in this second chapter than he did in the first, most obviously in a sequence where Faith’s assassination attempt is foiled by a couple of flying, living stone gargoyles. A spectacular aerial battle ensues, ably handled by the increasingly confident work of penciler Georges Jeanty and inker Andy Owens.
As was the case with the first issue, only two members of the primary cast appear, briefly, in an interlude furthering the Giant Dawn subplot. This time, it’s Dawn and Willow providing a brief respite from the arc’s A-plot, making this the second issue of this comic book in which the title character does not appear, unless you count the brief flashback which opened the book. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and indeed the ability to meander away from fictional characters liberated from the constraints of the actors portraying them is another advantage the comic book incarnation of the property has over it’s television predecessor. I do find it a bit odd that we’ve so quickly moved away from our primary cast, after the fifth, standalone issue in which they did not appear at all, and now this four-issue arc focusing primarily on Faith.
Still, it’s hard to complain about Buffy’s absence when Faith’s story is so compelling. Vaughan has successfully translated Faith’s character from Eliza Dushku’s perfect embodiment of her on film into comic book form, provided her a compelling antagonist, and crafted a story worthy of the larger mythos of which it is a part. I can’t wait to see what happens next.