In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #20

Never disappointing, always recommended.

The covers: Steve Morris delivers a gut punch with his Main cover with Xander encountering Anaya’s ghost. This pair was my favorite couple on the television series and any chance to see these two together again just pushes all the right buttons for me. Xander Harris reaches out to touch his former fiancee’s arm, but all he does is dissipate her form. He looks lost in a dream, and that’s exactly the way he should be. Perfect. The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaccs with Buffy holding the scythe while delivering a kick at the reader, and the title of this book is on the sole of her shoe. I like the look on the slayer’s face, eliciting a sliver of a smile, and the pose on her is fantastic. The colors by Dan Jackson are also good; using a pale/watery blue makes Buffy stand out, and the crimson on her scythe makes that weapon really pop. Overall grade: Both A

The story: “Triggers” is an excellent one-shot self-contained story by Christos Gage that features Buffy and Spike investigating an incident, yet the issue also expands the season long arc of Buffy and Spike’s relationship, as well as Xander and the ghost of Anya. The issue opens with Buffy and Spike (under the security of his black jacket in the sunlight) meeting up with one-time Buffy beau Detective Robert Dowling who’s called the pair for assistance because a woman was raped by someone who seemed to have total emotional sway over her. A photograph on the wall of the Mission Women’s Center shows a protest that happened when the center opened forty years ago and the attacker is in the picture — he hasn’t aged a day. Buffy and Spike look at each other and say in unison, “Incubus.” The trio explain to Counselor Jean Anthony what happened, but it doesn’t undo what was done to her. Buffy tells her, “He took the freedom to choose away from you. But he’s going to pay for it. And I promise you…we’ll make sure he doesn’t get the chance to hurt anyone else.” Xander and Giles are recruited by Dowling to help with another case, while the Buffster and Spike are on the incubus case. Added into this is a moment between the latter, Pages 7 and 8, that had me getting sad, with 20 and 21 taking me in an entirely different direction. This was a roller coaster of a story that played me like a fiddle and I loved every moment. And that last page — How could you, Mr. Gage?! Overall grade: A+

The art: Megan Levens has previously illustrated Buffy; she was great then and she’s great now. I really like her style; she captures the likenesses of the character nicely and she is great at communicating a character’s inner thoughts with just a look on their faces; for example, take a gander at the look Spike is shooting Buffy in the second panel after hearing some uncomfortable news. This one panel — this one look — shows that Spike is watching Buffy’s reactions; it communicates, without words, that he cares for her —  he concerned at how she’ll react to what she’s hearing. Buffy has some really strong visual scenes, such as when she’s speaking alone with Anthony (and what a great last panel on 3!), when she’s losing to the incubus, and all of 17. Her final scene with Spike on 20 and 21 is just awesome. I let out a sigh of relief when I got to the end of 21. At the opposite end of the emotional spectrum is her interpretation of Xander, who’s at his lowest point when first seen and then Levens delivers an awesome reaction in the final panel on 11; again, the character isn’t speaking, and doesn’t need to because the illustration of the face is saying plenty. In addition to the incubus, there’s another monster in this issue who has a sweet introduction on 9, and it, too, looks great. Levens is a terrific artist. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Great work by Dan Jackson on this book. He gets to cut loose in the first panel by creating an extremely colorful exterior to the women’s center. For the dated photograph, Jackson goes with the expected black and white coloring, but for the background he uses a pale peach to age the picture even further. There are some other really nice bits about this book: the aura around spectral Anya, the violets and reds of the setting where Xander, Giles, and Dowling visit, and the excellent lime green between the two characters on Page 16. A great choice is also made for the color of shirt on Spike for his final scene. That’s Jackson, consistently great. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt create dialogue, story’s title, scene settings, a supernatural entity’s speech, sounds, a scream, and a haunting revelation. There’s a nice mix of fonts, with the scene settings and the supernatural character’s dialogue looking especially neat. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Another winning issue. The story and visuals pull the reader into the lives of these characters constantly trying to keep the forces of evil at bay. Never disappointing, always 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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