In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #21

Enjoyable, engaging, and horrifically addictive. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: Steve Morris provides some eerily beautiful art for the Main cover. Buffy is on the far right, turning to see if the scythe she’s shoved backwards has taken out the vampire behind her: naturally it has. However the vampire is not alone — close by is a demon with many horns, a werewolf, and something with a giant eyeball for a head. The stances of all the characters are great, and Buffy looks terrific. The slightly brighter coloring on Buffy and the vampire make them stand out against the creatures rolling up behind them. Besides, the coloring makes it seem as though this fighting is occurring on some fog laden setting. The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson showing a series of six photographs that Buffy and Spike took with Harmony. The pictures show a slow progression of bad to worse: the first photo has Harmony trying to hug the pair; the second she hugs them while they look frustrated; the third has her pushing her way forward to mug for the camera, with Spike taking a drink and Buffy giving her bunny ears; the fourth has Harmony leaning in to blow a kiss, and now Buffy is making faces and Spike looks like he’s done; the fifth has Harmony and Spike going into vamp mode to fight, with the Slayer looking like she’s done; and the final photo has Harmony biting Spike’s elbow and Buffy trying to pull her off. This is a hilarious cover that captures all the characters’ moods and their relationships with each another. Fantastic! Overall grades: Main A and Variant A+

The story: “In Pieces On the Ground” Part One by Christos Gage begins with Spike and Buffy in bed watching the news on a laptop. More monsters are appearing in public and Buffy knows it because “Buffy the idiot let three demon lords get their hands on a portal generator.” Spike tells her that D’Hoffryn and his horde are trying to find out where the Bads are, but she feels bad sitting on the sidelines. That’s when there’s a knock on the door and it’s Satsu the Slayer who’s there to get Buffy to meet with the vampires and get their help in in fighting the monsters coming through the portal. She’s not thrilled, but agrees to go, and Spike comes along. They head to Las Vegas where Harmony is holding court at VampCon. Gage rightly goes for the funny, because it’s always funny when Harmony gets involved in the story, but this time the vampire has got quite a bite. Buffy and Spike have to do a task on their own, and while their completing their task the other is getting dark whisperings: Harmony to Spike and Vicki to Buffy. The bile that’s coming out of the vampires’ mouths wanted to make me leap into the comic and spike them! Spike and Buffy realize that each vamp is trying to play them, but what’s done is just enough to plant a seed of doubt in their minds and it’s going to fester and grow until they confront it. The last panel on Page 20 had me screaming in rage, and the last page had me screaming in frustration. Geeze, this cannot end well! Gage, you’re killing me! Overall grade: A+

The art: Rebekah Isaacs continues her winning streak on this issue with a great giant monster, then moving to the return of Satsu, who strikes an iconic pose at the bottom of Page 3, and then moves to some great emotional range for Buffy on Pages 4 and 5 — and she goes through some awesome emotions! Page 7 has a neat helicopter shot as the pair go to Vegas, with the last panel being really funny. Harmony’s first appearance is on the top of 8 and she’s riding something truly spectacular, and I love that Buffy and Vicki are mad-dogging each other at the bottom of that page. There are some really good fight scenes in this issue, but the scenes with the antagonists baiting the protagonists are fantastic; the bads are just so damn arrogant in every way — their poses, their expressions, it’s wonderfully awful! Buffy’s fight is really over the top, which it has to be since she’s “the” Slayer, but I liked Spike’s battle better because of the design of his combatant. I mean, just look at that third panel on Page 18 — it’s gorgeous and terrifying. I also like the final panel on 21 with the take on the classic “off into the sunset” visual. And that last panel — NOOOOO! Isaacs, you’re killing me, too! Overall grade: A+

The colors: An exceptional job is also done by Dan Jackson, who has the book begin with the colors of an old, comfortable couple — dark browns for the walls, and different shades of tan for the couples’ undergarments. In the living room, the colors perk up with oranges, which mirror the couple’s reaction to their solicitation. Vegas starts in darkness, as the drive to that location at night is, but then explodes into faux gold at the bottom of 7. Vicki’s close-ups have backgrounds in blue, reinforcing the reader’s perception that she’s always in the shadows. The greens and reds used for the battle sequences accentuate the tension, especially the reds which mirror the violence and Vicki’s hair. Jackson can do no wrong. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The story’s title, a news broadcast, dialogue, sounds, Vegas signage, scene settings, and Spike’s vampire anger are all brought to life by Richard Starkings and VC’s Jimmy Betancourt. All are good, and it’s hard to beat a good KRRAKKT. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A treaty is formed, but at the cost of a relationship. Reading this book is like watching friends get stabbed — I can’t stand it, but I can’t stop reading! Enjoyable, engaging, and horrifically addictive. Once I pick this up, I can’t put it down. 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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