In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #27

Grab some tissues: This one is going to hit you hard!

The covers: Another pair of covers for you to covet. The Regular cover is done by Steve Morris. It features a silhouette of a classic vampire, and within are Buffy and Spike looking as though they’ve just had an extremely serious conversation. Within this is a silhouette of a soldier, and Willow is inside this one, with her arms crossed, looking as if she’s not going to back down from a comment. What the heck is going on? The text says it all: “Team Slayer Divided: Just When They Need Each Other Most!” Great tease of several things that come to a head in this issue. The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaacs with Dan Jackson. This is a humorous look at what things are like for Dawn and Xander in the Hell dimension of Anharra. Evidently there’s a mixer that night, as everyone seems to be having a good time while carrying a tankard of some steaming liquid. The couple aren’t in any danger, but they look as though they’re still trying to figure out how they fit in to this wholly unholy landscape. Great sense of being out of place on their faces. Jackson’s eerie greens make the proceedings extra supernatural. Overall grades: Both A

The story: Own It continues in Part 2: “The Centre Cannot Hold” by Christos Gage. Xander has discovered a way to keep the demons from tempting humans on Earth, but Dawn is pining for home. She is the Key, so she can open and close any doorway; the problem is she doesn’t know which one leads home. Cue ulta-hottie and evil representative from Wolfram & Hart, Lilah Morgan. She’s there to offer the pair a quick way home “…if we can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.” Dawn’s immediate response is no, while Xander agrees, “You heard her, hit the bricks. And I was totally not staring at your boobs!” Morgan leaves, telling them to think about it, but not for too long. “I assume you want to see your sister again. With the life expectancy of a slayer, you never know how short a window you have, do you?” Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Scoobies are yelling at each other for D’Hoffryn’s theft of the book of Vampyr to create new rules for magic. Unfortunately for the Slayer, Willow and Giles squarely put the blame on her. Thankfully Spike, of all people (!), calms everyone down and they make a plan. In Anharra, Dawn and Xander decide to take a risk and go through a portal, hoping it leads to Earth. Want to bet it doesn’t? As they try to scramble to another portal, D’Hoffryn begins to change things in a dramatic show of force. Only one person seems to be immune to any of the drama occurring, but Gage hammers this character unbelievably hard on Pages 12 – 15. Try not to tear up as you read those pages. And then you’ll be shuddering at the meanest thing Buffy has said in a long time at the bottom of Page 19. That’s the lowest she’s gone in a forever! Wow! The center is gone and all has fallen apart. How will everyone survive this mess? Christos Gage, you’re a master of disaster for these characters, and I’m loving every page of it. Overall grade: A+

The art: There are several powerful conversations in this book and artist Rebekah Isaacs makes them sensational. New character Lilah Morgan is attractive, but has an absolutely devious look to her face, plus that scar certainly carries some baggage that must be revealed later. Her final appearances on 7 and 8 have her looking cool and calm, though her dialogue identifies it as a facade. Having Xander be miserable is always difficult to watch, as he always is the one who puts himself into his terrible situations, but the pain on his face on 1 – 3 as he realizes that Dawn is unhappy is just as sorrowful. Every time Dawn’s eyebrows fall I just want to tell her it’ll get better. Buffy’s introduction to this issue is an explosion of energy on 4, followed by an incredibly familiar look of doubt in the final panel on 5: that’s a classic Sarah Michelle Gellar move, and Isaacs has made it her own. Another way to get a reader’s sympathy from the visuals is done on Page 11, with one character concerned about where to look to find a solution to a problem. The one panel that really sticks in one’s mind will be the third panel on 13: it recalls so much abuse from one season of Buffy and has me screaming to see this antagonist put down — hard! The look of fear on the weaker character’s face resonates so strongly. The deadliest look of the issue is the final panel on 19. I paused for several moments taking in what the fallout was going to be coming from this character’s reaction to what’s said in the previous panel. There’s no text in this smallest panel on the page, but it’s screaming with emotion. And if that panel doesn’t hit the reader hard, the final image of the book will. Combined with the seven words of dialogue, that image is going to linger for a long thirty days until the next issue. To make dialogue scenes this strong, the artist has got to be extraordinaire. Yeah, that’d be Rebekah Isaacs. Overall grade: A+

The colors: So many different settings provide several fantastic opportunities for the colors to enhance and create mood in the artwork. Dan Jackson succeeds wildly on every page. The unnatural violet and greens of Anharra show how un-Earthly this location is. The amber colored hair of Lilah reinforces the hellish nature of her employers with her every appearance. Characters’ flesh has some excellent blending, as shown with the characters on Pages 4 and 5. Portals are instantly magical with their luminescent navy blues. The harsh crimson used for the background of the character who appears on several computer screens confirms his evil intentions. The sick greens used for the setting that begins on 17 identify it as a place of unholy perversion. The dominance of white in the final panel leaves the reader with a similar feeling of emptiness as the Slayer. Jackson is terrific. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Story title, scene settings, dialogue, sounds, a computer transmission, and the tease for next issue are crafted by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. The scene settings on this book are the best in the business, small but strong. The sounds are amazing, especially starting on Page 17 as the Slayer starts to lose it. I like how the final bit of dialogue of the issue is in a smaller than usual dialogue balloon, making its impact huge. Outstanding. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Drama everywhere involving everyone. Several character are hitting their lowest points of this season, and things can only get worse with D’Hoffryn in possession of the book. Grab some tissues: This one is going to hit you hard! Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

For more adventures of the Slayer and the Scoobies go to http://darkhorse.com

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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