In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17

The final panel will have fans on every continent screaming. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: The Main cover is an absolutely trippy idea carried out to marvelous effect by Steve Morris. Angel and Spike are facing each other and lean into one another, with their faces and hands crossing into the other. Between them is Buffy who looks concerned at the two coming together. The image is done with light greys and pinks and it looks amazing. It’s one of those covers that once you look at it you can’t look away. It’s that good. The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaacs with Dan Jackson. Buffy is posed for attack, holding her scythe, while above her flies Willow, with lime luminescent energy coming off of her hands. Both look as if they’re looking forward to an impending battle. I love both these characters, I love this artist and colorist, and I had to purchase this cover. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: The second chapter of Christos Gage’s “Old Demons” opens with one of the best first pages I’ve read in a Buffy book in a long while. Every member of the Scooby gang appears and has a reaction to some dialogue from one of their own, with Spike putting a period on the conversation. I laughed out loud on the first page and the rest of the book continued in excellent fashion. The gang is going to do battle with Big Bad Archaeus, but before they leave Angel and Xander share an honest moment and it’s brilliant. Dawn also gets a moment with Buffy’s ex, and Andrew arrives bearing helpful fruit. The last line on Page 3 was another laugh out loud moment. As the heroes make their way to the villain’s lair, they have conversations among themselves that are stellar. Had the entire issue just been their journey, talking to one another, I would have been more than happy. Gage has captured each character’s voice so well this book is like reading a lost episode. Although I’m more than familiar with each individual in this book, their comments and reactions came as surprises. These characters aren’t stuck in the holding pattern as other comic book heroes are; these characters are always growing and changing, just like real people. That’s what made them a success on television and what makes them successful with Gage at the helm. Now for those craving action, don’t fret, they do make their way to Archaeus and fighting commences, with something startling occurring on the last page; though if readers remember what happened in an earlier encounter with this bad, this was a promise fulfilled. I love this story and I love Gage’s writing. Overall grade: A+

The art: A talented artist is one who can tell a story without words — the pictures are perfectly understood by readers to communicate meaning. The first page of this book shows Rebekah Isaacs to be such an artist. The middle panel on the page is silent and communicates the meaning from six different characters — and this is not a huge panel, it’s the same size as three others on the page! This is great storytelling by Isaacs. Don’t believe me? Ignore the text on the first page; just look at the art. Pick one character and look at that character’s progression from panels two to four. Each character moves subtly and tells a reader a story. Beyond the first page, the emotions coming off the characters completely accentuate the text: Buffy in the fourth panel on Page 4 and her attitude at the bottom of 6; Andrew’s entrance on 5; Angel’s loss in the third panel on 13; Willow’s intensity on 20; and the change in one character on 22. A reader can hear the text so much better because of the way Isaacs has these characters act. She can also draw one heck of a monster. Before the characters fight Archaeus they are attacked by something sounding simple but looks absolutely freakish, as Xander confirms. They look great! I love the look of this book and the last panel will have fans talking nonstop for thirty days. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Dan Jackson has three specific settings to show off his skills this month. The first is in Buffy, Willow, and Dawn’s apartment. Its background colors are the traditional blasé colors one would expect in an apartment when the landlord won’t let the tenants paint. When there’s a panel free of backgrounds, Jackson uses a color to enhance the scene: a mustard for calm, a livid green for anger, and a soft rose for love. Down in the sewers, it should be utter blackness, but Jackson uses the lights characters employ to create some really color highlights, such as during the entire conversation between Willow and Angel, as well as Buffy and Spike’s talk. When the villain is finally met, there’s a sharp violet on 15 that’s excellent and oranges and yellows for action scenes. And Willow looks amazing in green! Overall grade: A+

The letters: The letters on this issue are by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. They create scene settings, dialogue, the title of the story, sounds, Archaeus speak, and some wonderfully wicked laughter on the final page. Archaeus’ dialogue is the perfect match for his character and makes every word a threat. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The final panel will have fans on every continent screaming. This is a rare book: characters that constantly grow and visuals that wow. Highest possible recommendation. 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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