In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16

Supernatural drama and action that never fail to entertain.

The covers: Two different covers that join together to form a neat mini poster. The Main cover by Steve Morris shows Buffy doing battle with demon Archaeus, using her scythe. Against the foggy backdrop of a dock, Angel can be seen leaping from a abandoned vessel to assist the Slayer. Terrific action illustration with the coloring being limited but really cool; only the moon, the scythe, and the demon’s eyes are colored brightly. The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaacs with Dan Jackson providing colors. This cover goes to the left of the Main cover and features Spike front and center using a sword to slit the throat of a giant vampire, in bat form, coming at him. Xander’s holding a double bladed axe and turns to watch Spike in action, while high above Willow is falling backwards while shooting a spell at a bat flying at her. The characters are at the same dock that’s fogged over; in fact, underneath the book’s title one can see three more giant vampires flying in to attack the heroes. Great covers from all the contributors, but this scene is nowhere in the book–sigh. Overall grades: Both A

The story: The Scoobies are planning how to deal with the demon Archaeus whom they’ve recently encountered. He was revealed to be the source behind Spike’s murderous dreams and evil actions last issue, so the gang has called in Angel from overseas to help. Spike is on edge because Angel is coming back and the last time he was with Buffy the two ended up shagging in the sky. Xander tries to tell him that she’s devoted to him, but that’s not helping William the Bloody. In the process of their conversation it’s revealed how long Xander’s anger issues have been around. Hearing about this pleases Dawn, since she’s glad her former boyfriend is making progress. This leads her to say, “Now that we’re not trying to be together anymore, things between us are so much more honest.” Talk about the wrong thing to say to Xander! Spike’s done waiting for Angel, he wants to go after Archaeus now, but Buffy stops him and tells him that she’s with him now. As soon as she reassures him, guess who walks through the door? “Old Demons” Part One by Christos Gage has all the classic hallmarks of a classic Buffy story. There’s plenty of interaction between the characters, with the Buffy-Angel-Spike triangle again coming to the front, with both males not thrilled with the other. There’s an incredibly cool moment with Giles, who asks about a character and melts the readers’ hearts. Just as it seems that everyone is focused on the task, something arrives and has them changing course. The last two panels on 13 had me unbelievably anxious, I love that Xander proves his usefulness on 14, and the banter during the battle was tops. The last page has each character contributing to the furthering of the plot, with Buffy ending things with a fantastic rah-rah speech. Damn! That’s how you close a comic! Overall grade: A+

The art: There are several moments in this book that create a mood without dialogue. Rebekah Isaacs has always been able to get an incredible amount of emotion out of her characters that goes along with the text, but attention should be drawn to what she can do without any dialogue. The bottom of Page 1 is a fantastic “Hell, yeah!” panel, the second panel on 6 is a wonderfully uncomfortable moment, the first three panels on 7 communicate so much in silence, the final panel on 8 is a great “Uh oh” situation, the top of 10 returns to the uncomfortable silence permeating the group, and the look on that person’s face in the second panel on 16 will give readers pause. Combined with dialogue, Isaacs continues to show she’s a powerhouse. Highlights for me included Spike’s close-up on 3, all of 6 (Willow looks fantastic and the bottom two panels are hilarious), everyone’s face and posture at the bottom of 10, and that individual that appears on 12. The action is thrilling, the magic that’s thrown about cool, and flame spectacular. By the time the baddie was dispensed with, I was spent! Spectacular work. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Dan Jackson also continues to do strong work on this series. On the first page there are two panels with no backgrounds. Rather than color them one uniform color, Jackson does a textured wash effect on the panels, making them seem like the walls of an actual apartment. Reds in the bottom panel are powerful, being a solid color for the book’s title and for highlights on the Slayer’s scythe. The violets for Buffy’s flashback on 4 are really cool and the third panel has a sweet background on 7. I like that when Buffy is trying to calm down each of the boys, their violent red backgrounds turn to a cool green. The flame effects are magnified in intensity because of what Jackson does with them. Readers should also look at the terrific light in Willows’ face on the penultimate page. Jackson is rocking this book. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: The Whedonverse team of Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt conjure scene settings, dialogue, whispered tones, story’s title, stellar sounds, and next issue’s tease. The sound effects are incredibly fun, and I dare any reader not to say HRRAA!, FWOOSH, or TUNGG without smiling. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Supernatural drama and action that never fail to entertain. 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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