The problem, and it's an old one at this point but I've found a new way to describe it, is that there's no longer any romance. I'm not saying that Spike/Buffy isn't the love story I want, although, yeah. I mean it isn't a love story. The characters and readers both discuss it in terms of "relationships"; the same kind of talk we hear about dating in the real world. I'm sure that's exactly what some readers like about it, but I for one find it hideously dry and indeed outright depressing. You can say what you want about star-crossed lovers defying all odds to come back to each other, but at least they're not continually rehashing their own conversations about the merits of breaking up.
"Romance" here means more than love stories, too. It's a style - kicking up the drama, making use of well-worn tropes, letting characters react without irony. Buffy didn't become something epic through campy monsters and witticisms.
I used to love Christos Gage and I think he's still got a thing, but I can't hear anyone's voice anymore. Metaphor seems to be beyond him and metaphor is the backbone of this entire series so...center can't hold. Used to be when characters were plagued by doubts, they'd turn into demons or vanish or something. Now, they talk to each other about their doubts.
Exception noted for Xander, Dawn, and Xander/Dawn. They had the best arc, with a lot of action in a limited number of panels, and I wouldn't have minded a few extra issues devoted entirely to them. They didn't win my heart all over again or anything like that, but Dawn got to wield some real power and Xander showed his best side, and the dimension-hopping was cleverly arranged and fun. So at least there was a little bit of romance there.
Right. So. I'm not planning on reading any more A&F, and probably won't have a reason to post about Buffy S10 again, but either one might bug me enough to change my mind at some point. In any case, I'm happy to host discussion here like in the old days, if anyone needs a spot.