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

Issue 11 cranks things up to 11. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: A pair to pick up for this penultimate issue. Steve Morris delivers yet another sensational Regular cover for this series. Buffy is in profile, close to the reader, holding the scythe in her hands, with the book’s title on the blade. Behind her the monstrous Shenlong Dragon, the beast that began this season of misery, is barely seen — it is, after all, ginormous and can’t fit on a cover this small. Before the snarling creature someone is enveloped in yellow energy, which flies about in every direction. Again, Morris teases at major moments without spoiling a thing. The Variant cover features script by Christos Gage, art by Rebekah Isaacs, colors by Dan Jackson, and letters by Comicraft. This is a two panel cover with Willow and Buffy shown looking at a laptop in a hotel room. Willow says, “That’s it. The only one that makes sense.” Buffy follows up with, “So now we know who’s behind all this. It’s–” and then the second panel is shown, with Buffy’s reveal left hidden because Xander and Spike are having a very important conversation about some very important characters. Only Dawn realizes that they’ve missed something. Funny cover, with a great tease, including a great laugh from the boys. The visuals are top notch and are one of the main reasons I purchase the variants for this series. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: The first page reveals whom Willow and Buffy were talking about: Ophelia Reyes, Secretary of the Supernatural. Xander says that she was seen going into Land’s End base that day, with Dawn adding, after looking at some notes, that she stays late. In fact, she’s there right now. Spike says they can’t exactly sneak in, but Faith says that they’re all more than capable of getting in. Buffy makes the decision: they go for it. Once there they see a tank is now guarding the base, but that’s nothing to powered up Willow, who blows a hold in the gate. They run in, taking out the nearby troopers. Willow gets a shield up in time to save everyone from the first blast from the tank, and takes care of the vehicle in a very unique way. Christos Gage doesn’t waste any time in this tale, with the gang getting to Reyes right away and discovering, painfully, who the real Big Bad of the season is. The reveal is great and what this character is made of puts a very interesting spin on the battle. Everyone gets to take a swing at the villain, with the encounter on 8 terrific. The character who has the best shot at taking her out does not have an easy go of things, with the Bad upping the danger considerably on 10. The big moment of the book isn’t the battle, it’s what’s done to guarantee the Bad is defeated. I was completely surprised by the action taken. Granted, the moment on 13 is fantastic, and the action that follows it stunning, but this is going to have some major fallout in the Buffyverse. The comments by the Bad after this moment are fantastic; it’s exactly what a reader wants to hear a villain say. However, like all good Bads, this one has one last ditch effort up their sleeve and that’s the cliffhanger of the issue. The fate of the world order is left hanging for thirty days. Buffy fans are going to be on the edge of their seats for the next four week. Fantastic! Overall grade: A+

The art: Rebekah Isaacs really gets to have some major power unleashed in this issue through her art. The book starts quietly, with the Scoobies making plans on the first page. The second panel on this page is a necessary one to show the reader all the heroes that will be involved in this final battle. The last panel on the page is focused on a unique item to show the reader how serious this upcoming conflict will be. The look on Willow’s face at the bottom of Page 2 is outstanding: she’s focused, strong as can be, and looks to have a twinkle in her eye as she pulls back her arm before releasing a devastating blast of supernatural energy. The middle panel on 3 is great for showing the characters in action as they take out the human guards, and the shield image that ends the page is powerful, with the tank blast and the sorcery Ms. Rosenberg creates. The panic on Reyes’s face in the second panel on 5 is deservedly delicious, which sets up the fourth panel for a complete emotional change to disgust. The blast in the fifth panel is a superb foreshadowing to the reveal that comes from a turn of the page. The Big Bad on 6 is perfection and her actions on 7 are flat out awesome. The reveal on 11 is great and brings the series visually full circle. The conversation on 12 is major and look how Isaacs does it: panels that run diagonally, making the pace of the dialogue frantic and the action rushed. The final panel on 13 had me cheering. After this, the Bad has got some fantastic emoting as the character realizes breaking the heroes will not be so easy. The final panel on 19 is just amazing with what it communicates from the character’s stance. The villain goes full on psycho on the final page and the reader will realize with the Scoobies that there’s no going back now. These visuals are fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The colors: With this much energy flying about, the colors from Dan Jackson have got to be strong, and boy are they! The first setting of the book is within the hotel room, so the colors are very passive. The item in the final panel has the brightest colors on the page and prepares the reader for what’s to come. The greens that Willow commands with her magic are beautiful. The final panel on Page 3 is terrific for the oranges and blues that collide. The blast on 5 is amazing, with the coloring behind the characters having a sensational flare of emerald. When the Bad attacks or is attacked on 6 and 7 the colors go a burnt red, making the abilities being used even more sinister than what the visuals have created. The violets on 8 are great! They return on 14 and 15, but not before Jackson uses whites and blues expertly on 13. The colors continually increase the powers of all involved, making their abilities enchanting and frightening. Wow! Overall grade: A+

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt create dialogue, the story’s title, scene settings, sounds, vampire speech, weakened speech, yells, and the tease for next issue. The scene settings on this book are so neat: a bold font that instantly alerts the reader to a change of location. The sounds are flat out fun and should be read aloud to make the story exceptionally fun. With all the magic and fighting involved, the fonts are constantly varied in form and size. The plea on 17 will tug at the reader’s heart not only for what’s said, but its size. When don’t Starkings and Betancourt do an outstanding job? Overall grade: A+

The final line: I continue to feel so lucky to live in a time when this comic exists. It captures the characters, the energy, and the heart of the series. And then it cranks things up to 11. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

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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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