In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #26

Buffy and the Scoobies are betrayed. Can she save the world and her sister at the same time?

The covers: Talk about an intense Regular cover! Buffy has slammed some monster’s head into a stone wall. It hasn’t killed the creature, but it must have hurt, judging by the cracks and pieces of debris wafting down. Buffy looks upset, so whatever information that creature’s got, one can be sure he’s going to give it. Strong, action piece from Steve Morris. The Variant cover features Spike and D’Hoffryn on either side of Buffy, trying to get a hold of the Book of Vampyr. The Slayer is holding the book close her to her chest, figurative and literally, and the look on her face tells readers that she’s not going to be swayed by either character’s words. Interior artist Rebekah Isaacs with colors by Dan Jackson did this winning cover. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+

The story: The first part of Own It, “Home Sweet Hell”, by Christos Gage opens in the dimension of Anharra, where Dawn and Xander have chosen to stay for the remainder of their lives to keep all the demonic baddies from invading Earth. After bringing new readers up to speed, Xander approaches one of the supernatural denizens and is promptly assaulted. He probably would have been killed had Dawn not used her magical abilities to shrink it to doll size. As the demon promises to help them, it begins to rain acid, so the three find shelter in some caves. Once there, Xander asks the creature why they don’t make their shelters with slanted roofs. The being responds, “Explain the word…’slanted.'” The scene then shifts to Los Angeles where Buffy and Spike are shaking down a human for information on how to enter Anharra. He tells them the same story as everyone else: there’s no way there. However, unwilling to leave empty handed, the Slayer has another question and the store proprietor can assist them. The story by Christos Gage goes back and forth between Buffy’s quest to rescue Dawn from the hell dimension and her sister and Xander’s comedic experiences in Anharra. The scenes in the demon dimension are really silly — No, really silly. There hasn’t been this much heavy humor in this series since I can’t remember when. By Page 3 I thought it had gotten a little too much, but Gage takes it gloriously over the top by Pages 10 and 11. When I finished these two pages I was completely taken by the humor and was looking forward to where Gage was going to take this cast. However, the serious story in Los Angeles takes a major turn with a character betraying the Scoobies, but then again, as this individual says, they should have known all along. Half of this issue is fun, the other deadly serious. It’s the perfect story mix. Overall grade: A+

The art: The first panel of this book shows that Rebekah Isaacs knows how to set a mood: a distant shot of Anharra, rock formations and massive mushrooms, with Dawn and Xander seen from afar. Looking at the pair trying to chew prickly mushrooms in the second panel is a nice visual segue to lighten things. Isaacs’s magic is beautiful, especially when the blocked portal is shown. The demon that attacks Xander is very aggressive looking, but under Isaacs’s pencils, he turns into the complete opposite by the end of the issue. I love the clothes worn by the store owner on Pages 4 – 5, which will leave fans of fantasy hollowing in glee. Page 12 is an absolutely weepy scene to look upon. Without dialogue, a reader can feel the emotions coming out of both characters; both leads look sensational. The two pages that follow this are jaw dropping: one can’t believe what is being shown in six panels  — they are punches to one’s soul. It’s only with the final panel on 14 that the realization of what’s been shown has actually occurred, and this is when a sense of dread begins to form in one’s gut.  The close up in the bottom panel on 18 is a killer — with the energy coming out of that character’s eyes spectacular. Also good is the individual’s hair beginning to flare, which is a great portent of impending action, and that’s exactly what follows. The antagonist of these final pages looks amazing, completely basking in his abilities and triumph; I love the smile he has in the second to last panel. The final image of the book has no text or sounds. None are needed because the reader knows the heroes are stunned at what to do next, and they must do something or the world is doomed. Isaacs continues to make this book amazing to look upon. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Anharra should be continually dreary; it is, after all, a hell dimension. Colorist Dan Jackson brings some wonderful colors to spruce up the surroundings and make it an interesting environment: Dawn’s pink top, the luminescent colors for Summers’s magic, bright backgrounds (such as in the third panel on Page 2) to emphasize emotional intensity, and bright colors for sounds. In the real world, colors continue to make the settings and characters real: the books and items in the store Buffy and Spike break, Buffy’s green top, Willow’s gorgeous hair, the off-peach walls of the apartment, and the brilliant, violent colors of Pages 13 and 14. The action sequence in the book’s finale is also vibrant, making the magic that’s tossed about a fantastic experience. Jackson completes the book’s visuals perfectly. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt have created this issue’s story title, dialogue, yells, sounds, scene settings, a cry, and the tease for next issue. I’ve been enamored with this pair’s work on this series from day one and they’ve never disappointed. Every letter is crisp and clear, with the sounds matching the actions in every possible way. I love the penultimate sound. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Buffy and the Scoobies are betrayed. Can she save the world and her sister at the same time? I can’t wait to find out. Always highly recommended. 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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