In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 11 #4

Be wary of a Slayer in a cage and be afraid of missing out on this tale.

The covers: Steve Morris does the Regular cover and it’s a beauty. In the resettlement camp, Buffy is using her scythe to take out five vampires. With her hand on one’s face, she launches herself up to slice open the chest of the bloodsucker before her. A terrific supernatural spew of smoke writhes out of the undead as three of its peers look on. The characters look exceptional with Buffy looking awesome. The coloring on this is flawless with a sensational selection of blues by Morris capturing the night. And check out the pink smoke coming out of the vampire that’s highlighting Buffy. I’m standing and applauding Morris for this cover. The Variant cover is another “deleted scene” from the book. It’s scripted by Christos Gage, illustrated by Georges Jeanty, inked by Dexter Vines, colored by Dan Jackson, and lettered by Comicraft. This frontpiece has Buffy making commentary on some of the food available in the mess hall. It’s funny and the visuals in the first panel really set up the punchline in the second splendidly. I really love the little extras in the visuals: the hairnet, the cigarette being smoked, and the tentacles in the bottom right. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: Buffy, Spike, and Willow are in the “Safe Zone”, an internment camp for magical beings. Christos Gage wastes no time starting things off dramatically: Buffy offers her neck up to Spike since he’s hungry. He drinks and her eyes begin to glaze over. She’s able to resist and pushes him off. They leave their RV and begin to walk the camp. Spike says she doesn’t need to offer herself again since their keepers are about to give out blood rations to the vampires. Buffy shuts him down and what they do after this brief conversation is awesome. They arrive at the blood bus and there’s a line. One vampire can’t handle getting so little and transforms into his flying form to escape. Something happens that doesn’t surprise the bystanders. Buffy leaves her lover, with a kiss, to pick up his supply while she goes to find Willow. Miss Rosenberg is busy helping someone who’s like her. Their dialogue is interrupted by two creatures who are taking advantage of their displaced situation. Naturally the Slayer has to intercede. I was happy to see the book go in a different direction on Page 11, because I was curious to see what was up with those characters at that location. There’s a good piece of action that follows this moment, and I was overjoyed to see another character throw himself into the mix. Pages 18 and 19 have one character pushed too far, and it’s foreshadowing that this individual is only going to get worse the longer this trio remains in the Zone. The penultimate page is brutal. I’ve never wanted to see a character hit so hard by Buffy. I may not have to wait that long, considering what the Slayer reveals on the final page. It’s only Issue 4 and I can’t imagine things getting worse for the protagonists. It will and I’ll be anxiously waiting to read it. Overall grade: A+

The art: One of the draws of Buffy Season 8 was artist Georges Jeanty. Having him return to this book is magic. His renditions of the characters are terrific, and having Dexter Vines ink his work makes it doubly so. When Spike goes into full vamp mode in the final panel on Page 1 it’s startling. All of the second page is amazing as Buffy begins to succumb and she has to push Spike off her neck. Their reactions in the bottom panel are painful to look at: both are suffering, albeit in different ways. The top panel on the third page shows what the exterior of the camp looks like, and slum would be far too nice a word. The setting is a collection of ramshackle dwellings populated by every type of creature that’s been shown in this series, with some new ones for good measure. I swear my heart skipped a beat at the bottom panel on that page. Buffy’s action sequences are brilliant; any reader can follow what the characters are doing and where they are in relationship to others — not once do the artists go to silhouettes for the characters; a technique overly used for comic book combat. The look that Buffy shoots Willow on 10 in the third panel communicates so much without any text. The final action sequence of the book is a stunning seven page sequence with every character fully on display and everyone’s emotions fully on their sleeves. Of special notice is the sequence of the third panel on 14 that shows the Slayer in battle mode. But it’s the final character that enters the melee on 16 that’s a stunner; especially on Pages 17 and 18. If this wasn’t enough for some readers, the final panel will have him or her mimicking Spike’s reaction on 22. I’m so happy to see Jeanty and Vines on Buffy. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The coloring on this book by Dan Jackson is wonderful. Look at the spectacular shading in the first panel that establishes a troubling, and conflicting, mood to the proceedings. The splash of red in the final panel on the first page intensifies the horrific undertakings. The bright colors used throughout the book for the denizens of the camp constantly remind the reader that this is no normal populace that’s being contained. Likewise, the bright spotlights increase the military tension of this zone. Bright yellows and oranges are used as background colors to highlight the action that’s occurring during the smack downs, while the sounds explode in their own bright colors. Because of Spike’s continual thirst, crimson stands out as an immensely strong color in several panels and it will not be forgotten. Jackson is a coloring god. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Buffy’s go-to lettering team of Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt provide this issue’s story title, dialogue, sounds, vampire speech, yells, a phone conversation, and the tease for next issue. Their work is impressive, always has been, and the sounds add so much to the fights. I also have to give praise to the unique font used for the vampire that’s gone stir crazy; it looks threatening and crazed simultaneously. Always superior work from this pair. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Be wary of a Slayer in a cage and be afraid of missing out on this tale. Riveting reading that surrounds the heroine and her friends with those that want to kill them. Tense, dramatic, romantic, and packed with supernatural thrills. It’s impossible not to be drawn into this tale. Highest possible recommendation of the week. Overall grade: A+

To purchase a print copy of this book go to http://www.tfaw.com/Comics/Profile/Buffy-The-Vampire-Slayer%3A-Season-Eleven-4-%28Steve-Morris-Cover%29___529489

To purchase a digital copy of this book go to https://digital.darkhorse.com/books/8ec6748b68ea4c13b07a15641f19839d/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-season-11-4

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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