In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 11 #10

Much happens, with the heroes making their way to the series' final obstacle.

The covers: A pair to find and both are worth tracking down. The Regular cover is by the incredible Steve Morris who turns in another amazing cover. Buffy, Spike, and Faith are in a room surrounded by giant bubbles containing several different types of aquatic life, with a moray eel sticking out the most in front of Faith. Buffy reaches up to touch one before her and that could lead to trouble. If one were to look closer, all the creatures have some sort of electronics grafted onto them. The characters look excellent and the sea life eerie in pale violets. A beautiful and bizarre scene that does indeed occur in this issue. Christos Gage, Megan Levens, Dan Jackson, and Comicraft have created the Variant cover which has two panels featuring Spike, Willow, Buffy, and Faith on a beach. Spike says he’s found a way in (to something), but it will be problematic for those who breathe. Willow has that covered, but Buffy poses another possible problem. The vampire says he’s got that covered with the help of a newfound lady friend. It’s a funny joke with visuals that lead right into the action of the first page of this issue. This “deleted scenes” cover is definitely worth tracking down for those who want the entire story. Overall grade: Regular A+ and Variant A-

The story: The Cliff House and the ruins of the Sutro Baths have been repurposed by the government as a research facility named “Project Pandora.” Four Scoobies make their way in accompanied by some of Spike’s new friends. They enter through a water valve and are summarily attacked by a giant octopus that’s been outfitted with cybernetic enhancements. All are grabbed by the beastie, with Buffy breaking free first by using the Scythe she carries. Spike tries biting it to no effect. With Willow freed by the Slayer, the witch takes care of the cephalopod, leaving them with a blast of ink. Finding some stairs, Buffy worries aloud that they may be discovered, though Spike reassures her with some calming words. Willow uses her magic to light their way up and they come upon a chamber of horrors. What they discover is out of left field, though given what they encountered in the previous chamber not so much. The Scoobies figure out what’s being done and realize the overall game plan of those responsible. Before they can leave their location there’s a decent obstacle, with Page 10 having the saddest and creepiest moment of the issue, with one character electing to do something that no one else can. Christos Gage makes this sick, moving, and absolutely true to all the characters. With the heavy scene done, the Scoobies rejoin Xander and Dawn and a plan is hatched to get intel from the highest person involved with the evil scheme. This is a clever plan and produces some funny lines, especially on Pages 13, 17, and 19. There’s also a laugh out loud response in the fourth panel on 16. The book ends with the larger threat introduced and the heroes making a decision. This was an enjoyable read, with every expected mark hit. That’s why this was a minor disappointment. Every issue before this was exceptional, but this was just good, story-wise. It’s a transition issue to move the protagonists to the conclusion, with both halves of the story feeling rushed. This was good, just not at the level of previous issues. Overall grade: B

The art: Megan Levens is the artist of this issue and she does a good job with the visuals. The first page is really good build to the reveal at the bottom of the page, with the settings shown from a distance, the focus moving to a group, the group being shown in a new environment, until the Scoobies are finally revealed with them. It’s cinematic in its progression. The entrance though the water valve is also good on the second page, with the final three panels having no text whatsoever, relying wholly on Levens to communicate to the reader the story. I like how she used black in the trio of panels to show them entering a space where they can’t see and the robo-tentacles emerging in the final panel. The octopus battle is good, with one character held upside down, creating some good humor. The looks on the characters’ faces at the bottom of Page 4 is an excellent tease of what’s to come, with them showing their shock at what they see. The first panel of the next page contains some solid payoff, with several different things shown, with just enough unique about each to draw the eye; Levens has done plenty to make the reader linger over each item. The obstacle encountered on 7 doesn’t look strong enough to be a threat. The third panel on 8 looks as though there was supposed to be dialogue to the right of the character, but instead there’s quite a bit of empty space. The actions on 9 are as rough as can be drawn without going over-the-top gory, which was a good choice by Levens, making the first panel on the next page extremely sympathetic. The visual laughs that begin on 15 are from the gestures and posing of a particular character that keeps the reader in on the joke, while those in the story are clueless; it’s a good job with physical humor. There are two scenes in the book where several characters are in a small space and Levens really moves the point of view around well. However, on the final page the third and fourth panels are oddly stretched, again suggesting that dialogue was intended to be there, but is not. I like the art, though there are a few moments where it’s not as strong as Levens’s previous outings. Overall grade: B

The colors: The different settings of this book provide several opportunities for colorist Dan Jackson to really shine, and he does. The first page begins with beautiful blues that dull slightly when the location goes deep. The slight change in colors around the Scoobies shows the reader that Willow has helped them out. The octopus is gorgeous in a pulpy, mottled orange. The colors of the element shown on 5 are lovely, making their contents all the odder with their additional parts. The battle that breaks out also has some strong colors for the background, such as orange, violet, and yellow. I really like the weak mustard used in the fourth panel on 10 to mirror the sick action that’s to occur. Willow’s hair and outfit for the final sequence of the book makes her a stand out on every panel she’s in. Jackson’s work is good on this book. Overall grade: A

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt create scene settings, narration, the story’s title, yells, dialogue, a whisper, vampire speech, sounds, screams, a transmission, and the tease for next issue. I’m still impressed by the scene settings, which are really strong and visually alert the reader that a change of locations is beginning. The sounds are also neat, with there being several in the action sequences. The vampire speech is also cool, with it being chilling the last time it’s used. Overall grade: A

The final line: Much happens, with the heroes making their way to the series’ final obstacle. The story comes off a bit rushed, but there’s still much to enjoy, with some odd things discovered and one character getting a very new perspective. Overall grade: B+

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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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