Attention, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans: I'm going to kick things off with a SPOILER WARNING right at the start of this interview — because we're right in the thick of the Buffy-verse right now and things are about to get very intense.
With a big reveal behind us and an even more intriguing turn of events at the end of last month's issue of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," I managed to track down writer Brad Meltzer for a brief chat about what's next for the Sunnydale slayer, what last issue's big reveal means for her, and why Buffy's upcoming showdown with the unmasked "big bad" might not be your typical boss fight.
Oh, and just in case you missed it the first time: SPOILER ALERT!
MTV NEWS: Okay, so I'll confess that I'm not exactly sure how to kick things off here. We now know that Twilight is Angel, Angel still loves Buffy, and Buffy still loves Angel... and the next issue promises to feature "Them F#@%ing." This definitely qualifies as a "WTF" moment. Is there any way this week's issue could possibly live up to the hype?
BRAD MELTZER: [Laughs] If I've learned anything writing comics, it's that half the people who read the comic will hate you and half the people will love you. When I first started doing "Buffy" and the very first issue was coming out, I asked ["Buffy" editor] Scott Allie what he thought of it, and he said, "I know what's going to happen. I know the future. They're going to hate it and they're going to love it."
But I do think that when people read this, they're definitely going to have a significant reaction to it as a reader.
MTV: Well, we saw Buffy and Angel getting up close and personal in that second-to-last panel in issue #33, and the next issue's tagline is "Them F#@%ing." Should we expect the next issue to arrive in a brown paper sleeve? What can you tell us about what's next?
MELTZER: Well, we're always going to be sensitive to these characters and their relationship. If I've learned anything from Joss while doing this, it's that he's amazing in his understanding of these characters. ... The beautiful part is that he was never someone who said, "Okay we're going to do this and I'll call you in a few months and we'll see how it did." He's very hands-on with this stuff — and he should be.
The thing I was most impressed with was Joss' understanding of the complexity of these characters. That's a very simple statement to make, but it's really incredibly true. With something like this, when you're dealing with their love and these characters reuniting, this is the final taboo that's left. I'm just amazed by how sensitive he was to how readers are going to see it and react.
MTV: It's definitely a unique take on the season-ending boss fight, that's for sure...
MELTZER: Looking back on it, what I am amazed by — and I say this with nothing but love — is just how much people want to see these characters together. No matter how mad or upset certain people are that Angel was the "bad guy" here, I'm just blown away by how much the first reaction tends to be, "Oh my god, we're going to get Buffy and Angel back together." I think that speaks to what Joss and his writers built over all those seasons.
MTV: And since there are still a few people out there trying to find a way for this not be Angel, can you say with all certainty that this is indeed Angel we're dealing with here?
MELTZER: [Laughs] Yeah, I'm not sure how much clearer we can be. We actually said last issue: he's not Angelus, he's not from the future, he's not from the past, it's him!
MTV: Now that the angel/Twilight reveal is behind you, do you feel like a weight's been lifted? That's a big story point to put in the rearview mirror...
MELTZER: I actually think the big reveal is this issue — I really do. I've always felt that way. I never felt like Angel being Twilight was the thing I was waiting for — it was always going to be what's in this issue and the next that people were going to be waiting for. These were the issues I was always most excited about.
MTV: Well, on a side note, I have to say I loved all the little superhero references you were able to work into the script these last few issues. Between Xander's dialogue and Andrew's costume midway through the issue, it looked like you were having a lot of fun with the story. It was all very meta...
MELTZER: I think "Buffy" was always a very meta show. We were doing superheroes for the very first time, so why would we not play with that entire genre? It seems silly not to!
But I'll be the first to say that once you tell a joke, you can't tell it again. You'll see very quickly that we try to reduce those references going forward. The first issue was the geek encyclopedia, but that was appropriate for where we started, and the next issue took on a more serious tone, so we toned them down. In this issue, there's maybe one or two in there, but very quickly you have to realize that it's first about the story and then about the jokes.
MTV: Last time we spoke, you made a point of letting everyone know that you weren't just treading water before Joss takes over writing duties in a few issues — and now it's pretty clear that's the case. Looking back on your arc thus far and everything you did in it, what's your gut reaction thus far? You've carved out a pretty big niche in "Buffy" history, after all...
MELTZER: I just have to say I'm really thankful for the way people have reacted. I'm thankful that Joss gave me the chance to take such a big story and trust me with it. When you look at this issue and the one after it and the two before, look at how much has actually happened in these four issues. To take that and trust someone else with it is the definition of being truly generous.
MTV: That being the case, what's left for Joss? What are you leaving him with here?
MELTZER: Trust me — as I've said before, Joss' run is where the meat is in this sandwich. As a reader, I wouldn't have it any other way.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" #34 hits shelves this week (April 7) featuring a story by Brad Meltzer, interior art by Georges Jeanty and a cover by Jo Chen.
Dark Horse Comics has provided Splash Page with an exclusive teaser image from the issue, which should give you a clue how hot and heavy things are going to get when Buffy and Angel reunite!
Let us know what you think about Buffy and Angel reuniting in the comment section or on Twitter!