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Writer Christos Gage teases growing up in season 10 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Although Buffy the Vampire Slayer formally went off the air in 2003 after seven seasons, the supernatural series focusing on the slayer and her Scoobie gang have continued their adventures in comic form, thanks to Dark Horse Comics. Throughout the past two seasons, Buffy and her friends have encountered various demons, new magic such as daylight vampires and relationship struggles. In season 10, however, they’re facing their biggest challenges yet — growing up.

With the second-to-last arc of season 10 approaching, Buffy and Spike must up to battle in a “contest of champions” organized by demon Harmony Kendall. In addition to an exclusive reveal of the cover and variant for issue 21 (out this fall), EW spoke to writer Christos Gage about the stories he has planned for our favorite Scoobie gang.

EW: Can you talk about this new arc (the second-to-last one, to be specific) and where we find our heroes?

CHRISTOS GAGE: This is the one where the threat level really ramps up. Without spoiling some things that happen in issues that haven’t come out yet, the danger in our semi-final arc spreads out to affect the whole world. Our heroes are going to have to up their game to match it. In some cases that means working harder; in other cases it means allying themselves with people – or things that aren’t people – they normally wouldn’t want anything to do with. Whether it’s on TV or in comics, Buffy has always worked best when it reflects life stages most of us go through, but with a supernatural twist: high school, first love, first heartbreak, college, death of a loved one, etc.

For Season 10, it’s really about that point where you go out into the world as an adult, even though you may not feel like one. You have to make decisions that you’d rather avoid, often with no obvious “good” or “bad” choice, and live with the consequences … often with huge ramifications for your life and the people you care about. There’s no one holding your hand and telling you what to do, and those who are usually have their own agendas you have to be wary of. In the midst of all this, you’re supposed to be launching a career, figuring out how to get past whatever neuroses, flaws and bad habits you spent your existence up to now acting on, and determining what kind of person – if anyone – you want to spend the rest of your life with. If that sounds like a lot of pressure, it is. For the Scoobies, it also happens to involve vampires, Krakens and mushroom people.

How have you felt the characters of Buffy and Spike specifically evolve throughout your journey with this comic?

That’s the whole reason we thought it would be interesting to have Buffy and Spike pursue a relationship. They’re very different people than they were during Season 6. Of course, in a lot of ways, that just presents a new set of challenges. And that’s what I really love about the Whedonverse comics. You can actually have the characters grow and change. It’s not like you have to return the toys exactly as you found them. Look at how Willow changed from season 1 to season 7. The fact that Joss encourages character growth is, to me, what makes this exciting!

I love the art that Megan Levans is doing in the recent issues. Has it been fun to write these monsters or demons and have her bring them to life in her art?

Megan has been wonderful — as has our regular artist, Rebekah Isaacs, and of course colorist Dan Jackson and letterer Jimmy Betancourt. They’re a murderer’s row of talent! For the arc we’re discussing, I gave Megan a whole bunch of monsters to design — new members of the Magic Council, among others — and she just aced it. Both Megan and Rebekah have an amazing facility for creating monsters that are weird and unearthly, but you can also see emotion in them, even if it’s just sheer evil or alien weirdness. That’s a rare skill, and a crucial one for this book. Hopefully the confidence I have in them comes across in the scripts. I know both Megan and Rebekah sometimes drop me a note to say they enjoyed a specific script, or bit, or character, and while I too rarely do the same for them, sometimes I’m so blown away by a page or a scene or a little detail (like the boots Andrew wears in the sewers) that even I remember to let them know. We’re having fun, and I hope it shows.

One thing that I always loved about Buffy was that above all, it focused on family and friendship. I feel like we’ve gotten to see so much of that in the comic, which is part of why I really enjoy reading it. How much fun has it been to find new stories to tell?

Thank you! It’s the characters that bring us all back, isn’t it? We’re all very conscious of the fact that this is the first time since the TV show ended that the Scoobies are all together, so it seemed like a natural point of emphasis. Of course, the life stage we’re exploring — becoming an adult, forging a life for oneself and figuring out what it’s going to be — is an interesting one. That’s when many of us find ourselves drifting apart from at least some of our old high school and college friends, as we make different choices about what’s important to us going forward. That couldn’t ever happen to the Scoobies, though, could it? Is it possible the Big Bad of Season 10 is…adulthood?

Can you give me at least one thing to tease in issue 21?

How about a name? Satsu. And the return of Vicki the Vampire, Harmony and Clem.

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