In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #11

Love is in the air and one couple gets particularly close.

The covers: A trio instead of a twosome for a really good reason this month. The Main cover is by Steve Morris featuring a nice back-to-back shot of Buffy and Spike in a park overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. She looks great, he’s as suave as ever, and the Buffster is carrying the Scythe. This is fantastic. The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaacs with Dan Jackson. It’s a nice showcase of four characters and their, currently, rocky relationships: Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles. Each is with the one they love, though the emotions on each is very different. I like that there are thorny vines surrounding everyone, representing how love ain’t easy. The fall coloring makes it seem as if a change is due for all, or one, of these couples. The third cover is the Birthday Variant cover by Georges Jeanty with Tariq Hassan. This is a cute cover of a cartoony Buffy holding up a gigantic birthday cake, while Willow is casting a spell to help her friend, and Xander has a fork to eat the desert. It’s Buffy’s birthday this month, and this was a very cool way to celebrate it. I’m a huge fan of Jeanty so to have him do even just a cover made me immensely happy. Overall grades: All A

The story: Christos Gage has written a tremendous love letter to the Slayer’s followers with “Love Dares You” Part One, which focuses on all the relationships of the characters. There is monster killing, naturally, but this issue is about the need for characters to connect. Buffy is in a coffee shop that has speed dating that night. The first four men that sit at her table are characters one would expect in the dating world, with her responses being sad and funny. The fifth person to sit at her table is a vampire who knows, because word got out, what she likes to do to vampires, and he’s more than willing to submit to her whims. This is not what she wanted, and an additional suitor only exacerbates the situation. I laughed out loud at what happens in the fourth and fifth panels on Page 3. The story than moves to Xander and Dawn who have gone out to see a movie and then move to a restaurant, with one of them feeling uncomfortable. Of all the relationships in Buffy, this is the one I want to see succeed, but it’s not going to be this month. Willow is with a familiar character she encountered from her limited series some time ago, Giles looks up someone (but that individual wasn’t aware that Giles would truly have to “look up” to her), and Spike is still pining for Buffy and his scene on Page 16 shows how much he’s changed. Andrew has a large scene, but it didn’t work for me because too much happens. That one off moment, this issue is going to have major fallout for a long time with what happens on the final page. Don’t spoil it by just turning to the end, because it’s so much better if you read the entire issue for the build up. Overall grade: A

The art: This issue was illustrated by Megan Levens, who co-created and illustrated Madame Frankenstein for Image. Her style is the most similar I’ve seen to Rebekah Isaacs, so I was happy to see what this book looked like. She has an excellent sense of comic timing, which is shown through the different posture Buffy has during each of her speed dating interviews. She has a very good sense of when to insert a background and when to leave it blank so that the reader can focus wholly on the characters, as is done during emotional moments. Her characters resemble the actors who played them on television, and the new characters are fine, especially the individual on Page 16 that has Spike’s attention. There is a monster in this book and it’s well done, but I was most pleased by Page 18, as it features my favorite supernatural character of this season’s run, plus Spike has gone and done something that will make the fans sigh and Levens has done an outstanding on his action. The final page is the payoff, and that second panel said so much without any of Gage’s dialogue. The pose of each character was priceless. I’d be pleased if Ms. Levens stuck around for some time. Overall grade: A

The colors: This series has been colored forever by Dan Jackson, but with this issue he uses a lot of one color I’ve not seen him choose before: lime green. It’s used for the interiors of the coffee shop and it’s a color for the interiors of scenes involving Giles. For Buffy, it’s the perfect contrast to the dark, somber colors behind her in the same setting, and for Giles it’s an excellent way to break up his pale browns. There’s some nice shading done with colors in the characters skin, such as on the final four pages. That final panel of the book was the best, with rose being employed excellently. Overall grade: A

The letters: The Buffy go-to duo of Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt do their super job of providing story titles, dialogue, character identification, sounds, and a “To be continued!” All are great, with the GGAAA! on Page 3 being a little too close to reality. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Love is in the air and one couple gets particularly close. A character study that’s not a monster hunt, but it’s another outstanding read for this series. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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