“New Rules: Part Two” picks up immediately after the previous issue left off, in the middle of a daytime brawl between Buffy and her Scoobies, and a gang of vampires who are mysteriously immune to sunlight, and who can shapeshift into ravenous animals. A daytime vampire battle is unlike anything we’ve seen in this series before, its universe in the midst of establishing a new status quo. When Buffy and Giles look through the “Vampyr” book, they notice a mostly blank book, but also new pages springing forth with new information. The rules of the vampires are currently being rewritten, and as long as there are blank pages, there are sure to be more surprises to come in regards to their abilities.
A lot goes down in the series’ second issue, but it not once feels rushed. Christos Gage jumps from scene to scene, dropping a heaping of exposition along the way, to advance the story which is still in its very early stages; but more importantly, he has the cast bounce off one another in typical Whedon fashion. This being a comic, one has the freedom to read this book as fast or as slow as they please, but with all of the dialogue contained in this book (often with multiple characters speaking in each panel), this feels very much like a fast paced issue; with little-to-no pause between each character speaking. One thing that made the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series such a treat was its quick witted dialogue, and its ability to mix exposition with smalltalk, making the most of every sequence, even the dry obligatory ones. Christos Gage of course is no stranger to writing the Buffyverse comics, but Angel & Faith has a very different cast dynamic than this. The opening issues of Buffy Season 10 have a much larger cast than Angel & Faith did during any of its duration, and it is impressive how much “screen” and “mic” time he gives to each character.
Spirits run high on this opening Season 10 arc, which two issues in still feels like a reunion; between various characters we haven’t seen together in quite some time, and also a reunion between comic and reader. The Scoobies are functioning in top form, after being split apart for the majority of Season 9. Recent “Slayer” Billy even gets a moment to shine this issue, which is a relief considering how much of an afterthought he was during Season 9’s endgame. After a promising debut, he still has yet to find a place within the group where he can make a difference. Billy, as well as Buffy’s two roommates, risk becoming the cheering squad as opposed to meaningful characters with their own stories. Hopefully Season 10 will find them something substantial.
The end of #2 kicks off a mini-arc that will continue into the next couple issues, featuring Xander and Dawn in Transylvania, visiting Xander’s old friend, Dracula. Xander’s Season 10 arc is already a lot more enjoyable than his previous season story, and communicating (or rather, bickering) with the ghost of Anya is a funny set-up full of possibilities. Last issue, I nitpicked that Anya (Emma Caulfield)’s likeness was off, noting that she was not immediately recognizable. That is now resolved this issue, with Rebekah Isaacs’ depictions of Anya’s face much closer resembling Caulfield’s own, especially in her third panel on page 20. “New Rules: Part Two” continues the excellent work of both Gage and Isaacs, further advancing the story in exciting and unpredictable ways, making itself even more enjoyable than last month’s stellar debut issue. Hopefully this quality is maintained throughout the next few issues, which feature a slight change in creators, adding on Nicholas Brendon (Xander from the TV series) as co-writer along-side Gage.