In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #25

Just when my heart can’t take any more, the story moves in a different, surprising direction.

The covers: The Regular cover is by Steve Morris who is creating visual gold with this image. Dawn is looking into a giant keyhole that floats in space. Tendrils of smoke writhe out of the portal, colored in the same luminescent amber as the hole. Energy is streaking out of the object, causing Buffy to have difficulty in standing, while Spike looks as though he’s stumbled and is trying to regain his footing. Both characters look worriedly upon the youngest Summers. Another sensational story that poses questions that are answered within. A great tease! The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaacs with Dan Jackson and it’s a much more dramatic image: Xander Harris reaching out for help as he plummets into a dark abyss. Could this be the end of Xander? This is a frightening enough possibility to have me scanning this issue’s contents in my local comic book store. A great cover. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Variant A

The story: The conclusion to “In Pieces On the Ground”, written by Christos Gage opens where last issue left off: Dawn realizes she may be able to close the portal to the Hell dimension. She is, after all, “The Key.” There’s no way Buffy is going to allow her to sacrifice herself, though Giles speculates that were she to remain on the other side of the door when closed she would “be virtually godlike. Nothing could hurt her…but she couldn’t come back.” Even Spike offers his uncertainty to what Giles is speculating, but Dawn says no one else has got a better idea. Besides, Willow, who’s been holding the door closed, looks as though she’s about to collapse. The Scoobies decide to go through the portal to see if Dawn’s powers do reactivate. They come upon an army of creatures who stretch beyond a valley and are led by a monstrous creature calling itself Kerberon. Willow’s powers don’t even scratch it, so it falls upon Dawn to see if she can stop the being. What follows is both awesome and cool, with the greatest of responses from the monsters at the top of Page 8. Pages 9 – 11 have a brutal discussion, ending with one of the most honest and painful statements. The pain is magnified by what’s said and done on 12 – 15. Just when things couldn’t possibly get worse, something changes on Page 17 that will have readers uttering an “Uh-oh.” Page 22 is probably the best (or worst, depending on how one looks at it) surprise in Buffy’s comic publications. Everything changes on this page and what follows next month will be impossible to predict. Again, I find myself loving and hating Mr. Gage for what he’s doing on this book and to me. Overall grade: A+

The art: Megan Levens is a terrific artist for this title. She is able to capture the likenesses of all the familiar cast of characters and she is able to create some frightening new ones. Buffy and Dawn are the focus of this tale and they look terrific. It’s hard not to feel pain and fear that each is going through with their decisions, with Page 16’s final page being a heart breaker. Xander also breaks hearts; a glance is all it takes to know exactly where his heart is and what he’s going to do. His final image in this book marvelously matches his dialogue. And then there’s Spike. His heart is painfully on his sleeve as well, with his final page of dialogue being brutal; the weight on him is brutal. Page 5 sees the introduction of Kerberon and he’s fantastic. He goes through three severe changes in this book; his first panel is the stuff of nightmares, his penultimate panel magical, and his final panel a complete transformation. Also good are the minions surging below him, whose designs are wonderful, and their movement on 8 great. The crowd shot on 4 is also outstanding. There’s also a transformation on 17 that visually tells readers something bad is coming on the horizon, and that horizon arrives on Page 22 that looks incredible: one character smiles that I can’t recall ever smiling before, and it’s chilling. Could someone at Dark Horse give Levens her own monthly? Please? Overall grade: A+

The colors: There’s a lot of magic and the supernatural in this issue and Dan Jackson’s colors bring them to life. The opening greens that Willow is using to keep the portal closed are wonderful. The other side of the portal is stunning in strong blues and violets, with Kerberon being a wonder in mottled flesh tones. The whites, greens, and yellows on 7 sell the action atop the page perfectly. Dawn has got some fantastic lighting done on her in the second panel on 15, and it needs to be fantastic given what’s occurring. They exiting orange-yellow in the following panel is cinematic. The loss of the luminescent blue on the final page is telling and is packed with so much foreshadowing. I’m loving Jackson’s work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, quiet voices, the story’s title, groans, demon speech, yells, sounds, and the tease for next issue are done by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. They’ve shined since the first issue of this series and they’ve continued to do so on every issue, including this one. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Everything has changed by the end of this issue, but not the quality. Just when my heart can’t take any more, the story moves in a different, surprising direction. You cannot beat the drama of this book. 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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