In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #23

Andrew Wells becomes a question mark in this strong character driven tale.

The covers: Buffy is shown in profile, crouched and carrying her scythe. She looks good, ready for action, but she should really be paying attention to an image in the blade, showing Andrew Wells reaching for the weapon. Isn’t he supposed to be one of the good guys now? Sweet cover by Steve Morris hinting at this issue’s story without revealing anything. The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson. This cover features all the Scoobies, Buffy, Spike, Xander, Willow, Dawn, and Giles looking ready to attack unseen foes to the right. Those foes are the heroes of Angel, whose next issue completes the image begun on this cover. The characters look great and the coloring is excellent, especially in that beautiful violet and gray sky. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: Andrew is speaking with the holographic version of his friend, Big Bad wannabe Jonathan Levinson. Once again Jonathan is berating his friend for not finding a way to get him a body to inhabit. Andrew says he’s tried everything to bring his friend back to life, but everything that’s ever been though up doesn’t work. In fact, “…all those Swamp Thing comics with Arcane building Un-men out of random body parts are sheer fantasy–” He doesn’t finish his sentence because a head comes climbing down his basement stairs on several fingers that protrude from its base. Several other grotesque figures appear, including a ginormous creature of liquid flesh. Andrew recognizes the Sculptor. The monster is there to give Andrew his wish in restoring Jonathan, for a price. “Bring me the Slayer’s scythe. And all you desire shall be yours.” The story then moves to the Hoover Dam where the Scoobies and the Mystic Council are trying to send the recently appeared Kraken back to its own dimension. Everyone contributes, though after the battle everyone is a little snippy with one another, especially Buffy. D’Hoffryn proposes something to make Buffy’s life a little easier, and I couldn’t help but feel my Spidey Sense tingling as she agrees. Writer Christos Gage nicely has Buffy again feeling as though she’s made the wrong choices with her life, which she is painfully reminded off while jogging on the street. Her pain is momentarily forgotten when Andrew’s plan comes to frutition, that comes to a conclusion that had me holding my breath until Page 19. I sure hope Buffy takes the speaker’s final words to heart in this issue’s final panel. Gage, again, captures the familiar characters’ voices superbly and creates an excellent story on characterization. Overall grade: A+

The art: Megan Levens is the artist of this issue and she’s become one of my favorite illustrators. I like how she’s able to capture the actors’ likenesses in the characters from the series and create her create her own wonderful creatures, such as the Kraken. Andrew is a scene stealer in this issue, with a terminal pout on his face as he feels conflicted over his decision to betray Buffy. The Slayer is particularly well drawn, showing she’s overextended herself, getting snippy with her friends, until collapsing onto Spike’s shoulder in a super panel on Page 6. One would think Buffy would be in seven heaven going to sleep with her lover beside her, but the look of worry on her face on Page 14 should be a cause of concern to fans. Her silent jog is a painful thing to view, with Levens making readers feel as sad as the Slayer. The Mystic Council is on several pages, creating an excellent sense of power and some surprising humor on Pages 7 and 11. Giles goes to a new location in this issue and I hope that more is shown of this location at some point, because Levens makes it so lush, I’d hate to be given only a taste of this place. I’m really liking what Levens is bringing to Buffy. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Because of the number of creatures and magic involved with this issue, Dan Jackson really gets some great scenes to show off. He starts off with an excellent flesh color that is surprising to view in the bland setting of Andrew’s basement. Putting this flesh color next to the bright crimson of the issue’s story title also highlights it. The flesh of the Sculptor is disturbing, complete with yellow-white bands that makes its skin even drippier. The flesh of the Kraken is a perfect disgusting vision in moldy pea green. The setting that Giles journeys to is made more hypnotic with Jackson’s colors. The final panel is a vision in several shades of violet, creating the evening, but allowing all of Levens’ art to be clearly seen. This is top notch work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, story’s title, sounds, yells, and the “To Be Continued…” are crafted by Buffy’s go-to letterers Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. I continue to be impressed with the amount of dialogue that this pair has to put on a page without stepping onto some important detail in a panel. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Andrew Wells becomes a question mark in this strong character driven tale. Why can’t other comics have such strong characters where their lives matter more than the fights? Highest possible recommendation of the week. 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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