Have you read Dracula by Bram Stoker? If you're into metaphors about Victorian xenophobia of the Irish and burgeoning women's rights issues, then you might enjoy it. But it was also written over one hundred years ago. Since then, the Lord of Darkness has been adapted several times. The Dracula of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the best, and he's given his moment in the sun with the latest issue of Buffy Season 10. Special guest writer Nicholas Brendan joins the team of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs, and he definitely brings his A game.
After going to Dracula to see if he knows anything about the new rules being written, Dawn and Xander bring him back to the scoobies in California. After some brainstorming, we get some big answers to the mystery of the Vampyr book. Buffy and Willow then go hunting and have a nice exchange that's been needed since about half-way through season 9. Meanwhile, Dracula and the rest of the scoobies share some great scenes that lead to a pretty obvious conclusion on several fronts. But where will these revelations lead?
The character interactions are the definite highlight of this issue. Everyone gets a moment with another character (or characters) that both keeps the story moving forward while simultaneously recalling past interactions. Xander (perhaps unsurprisingly) gains the most from these interactions. First with Dracula, then with Dawn. Xander goes through real development within the issue. But again, Dracula is the star of this issue, from his trying to make Xander jealous to his haughty sense of superiority that he lords over both the other vampires and the scoobies. His odd-couple relationship with Xander is something that deserves it's own book. Brendan and Gage make Dracula a lovable character despite the fact that he's very clearly a villain. He's rude to everyone but he also very clearly has a soft spot for Xander. Their relationship may be master/manservant, but it's also clear that Xander is the closest thing to a friend Dracula has probably ever had. It's a great call back to how they were shown in season 8. Where Xander and Dracula take this relationship will be exciting to see.
The art is still a great companion to the writing. Isaacs and colorist Dan Jackson create a vibrant world that pops. Even the nighttime scenes have a vibrancy to them. A minor gripe that's echoed from the previous two issues is the use of single colored backgrounds for close-up panels of faces. Some of these panels have a bit of texture to them, but they still lack detail that the rest of the panels have. Overall though, the issue is great at developing the characters, pushing the story forward, and raising the stakes all at once. Nicholas Brendan is a great (if temporary) addition to the creative team and it'll be fun to see the story he wants to tell.