In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #24

Always character driven. Always action packed. Always the best.

The covers: Buffy and Spike are in the ocean, which is doubly dangerous when the Mistress is also present, who’s singing her siren song, perhaps ensnaring Spike again. Another slick cover from Steve Morris. It’s neat to see that Spike doesn’t seem wholly under the Big Bad’s spell, as he’s helping hold the life preserver that the Buffster is using. Plus the coloring is really sharp, especially on that hyper bright pink for the Mistress’s song. The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson. This frontpiece compliments last month’s Buffy¬†Variant cover, focusing on the villains of this season, rushing toward the heroes. Everything about this is fantastic, and it’s the one I had to purchase. Overall grades: Main A and Variant A+

The story: The fourth chapter of “In Pieces On the Ground” by Christos Gage begins with something I really hate to witness: two of the characters having a strong argument that’s left unresolved. Buffy has words with a character and things don’t go well. I’m familiar enough with both individuals to know how each will react to what’s said and I can even see that each is correct in how they’re viewing the situation. It’s just incredibly awkward and heartbreaking to watch characters you care about not get along. The character that Buffy has this conversation with walks out on her, leaving her shocked and frustrated. She goes to Spike to ask if she was out of line in with what she said to that individual, and he has the perfect, honest answer to her concerns in the final two panels on Page 3; it’s not what Buffy wanted to hear, but the vampire’s right. Also going through some major drama are Xander and the ghost of Anya. Xander finally tells this image of his lost love what he thinks she is and how he should deal with her, and it, too, is a heartbreaker. What she really is isn’t answered, except that she’s in utter emotional disarray at what the young man decides to do. Just when it seems there’s nothing that can be done to bring the band back together, D’Hoffryn appears in the most private of places and tells the Slayer that the Mistress and the Soul Glutton have been located, but he and the council can’t act as they’re currently engaged at stopping an invasion from the Hell of Screams. The Scoobies are summoned and appear, albeit reluctantly, to put down this pair of Bads and their use of the Restless Portal. What follows is a good amount of action, and some forgiveness during the fray, though it ends with one heck of a cliffhanger that will leave readers feeling just like Buffy, Xander, and Spike. Hold on to something! It’s going to be a very long 30 day wait for the next issue! Overall grade: A+

The art: Illustrating this issue is Megan Levens, who’s done a few excellent issues before this one, and she continues to be an outstanding illustrator. Her characters resemble the actors who portrayed these characters on television and she can make them emote wonderfully: the character who gets angry on Page 2 doesn’t need dialogue to show that he’s hurt and angry; the Slayer’s reactions to Spike’s opinions on 3 are tops, and Xander’s depression is obvious in every panel on 4 – 7. The reactions of the characters on the final page are fantastic, with all looking as long time readers would expect. Levens is also able to create a good sense of magic around and used by these characters: it’s fun to watch how Anya moves around Xander, how D’Hoffryn appears before Buffy, and the battle with the Mistress and the Soul Glutton. The portal is awesome every time it’s shown, capturing just the right amount of evil that is its creation and Willow in action is magnificent. Levens is also really good at crowd shots, which must be a monster to create, but she makes it look easy: Pages 9, 11, 18 (Love that third panel!), and 20. Looking at what Levens brings to this book had me chasing down her Madam Frankenstein series a few months ago. I’m happy to have her on this book and for Dark Horse Comics bringing another outstanding artist to my attention. Overall grade: A+¬†

The colors: Dan Jackson continues to bring a gold standard to the colors on this book. He starts with some really bright colors in Buffy, Willow, and Dawn’s apartment as the Slayer is speaking to an important character. Such warm colors falsely lead the reader to believe that their conversation will be as warm and friendly as they usually are, but that’s not the case. The colors grow a little darker inside Spike and Xander’s apartment, which mirrors the dark direction the book is taking. Things brighten momentarily with Xander and Anya, but that’s due to Harris’s shirt, which makes him the, rightful, focus of the scene. Colors really go dark once D’Hoffryn sets the Scoobies on their course of action, as the setting is at night and in a cavern. Magic is bold with powerful greens, yellows, and reds. Jackson makes the magic on this book real. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, the story’s title, sounds, yells, screams, and next issue’s “To be continued!” are conjured by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. I love what this pair does, with their dialogue font being just right for this book, and italics used to better show the characters’ stress on specific words. Page 16 shows how this team does great work employing several different styles of lettering to communicate the tone of the scene. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Always character driven. Always action packed. Always the best. Buffy the Vampire Slayer should always be on your pull list. 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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