In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 11 #2

The government and the supernatural are heading for a showdown and Buffy Summers is right in the middle.

The covers: Steve Morris is the artist of the Regular cover that shows Buffy shielding her eyes from the sun atop the Golden Gate bridge, while her BBF Willow hovers beside her. Both characters look like their television counterparts and I like how the location is teased with just a bit of the iconic cables showing. The clouds are very whimsical, not realistic at all, but looking perfectly at home in this image. The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaacs, Dan Jackson, and Comicraft. This is an “Extra Scene” to the comic, taking place just before this issue begins. Dawn and Xander are donating blood, which is the responsible thing to do after the disaster that hit San Francisco last month. However, Xander’s not too happy at who’s getting the precious life fluids. Good joke from writer Christos Gage and excellent visuals. This cover demonstrates a necessity of the “new” world. This is the cover I had to purchase. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+ 

The story: It’s been one week since the monstrous Chinese storm dragon made a mess of San Francisco. The gang’s been allowed back to their apartment but things are not back to normal: the President of the United States is going to address the nation about what’s occurred. In Giles’s apartment, Spike, Buffy,Willow, and Giles are trying to find out who sent the dragon into the city, but they’re coming up empty handed. President Malloy comes on and states that there will have to be a census for supernatural beings and he’s created a new position for his cabinet: Secretary of the Supernatural, held by Ophelia Reyes. Buffy is not thrilled at being “normalized” into the world’s population and it does raise some “thorny ethical questions” about her job, while Spike sees it as a form of fascism. Christos Gage’s script then has the action moving to a location that frighteningly mirrors aspects of what’s happened in America’s past. Naturally, two of the Scoobies are there to save the day, but another character arrives and Page 10 lays the seeds for a major confrontation in the Slayer’s future. After this happens, one character says that he’s leaving the states to go somewhere where it’s safer. Willow has the biggest moment in this issue, where she does the right thing, but it comes out very, very, very wrong to someone who films the incident. This brings her to the attention of an old flame and a new character. What Willow does precedes an action by the government that could tear the country apart. History is about to repeat itself and the lessons that are going to be learned are going to be very painful. The anticipation for the next installment is killing me! Overall grade: A+

The art: If a reader missed the first issue, the first panel of this issue brings him or her up to speed, as it shows the view outside the Scoobies’ window: a decimated shorefront and the Golden Gate Bridge in the process of being rebuilt. The gang is shown to be safe in their apartment, but the look on Spike’s face in the bottom panel and what he’s watching tells the reader that trouble is soon to come. At Giles’s place Willow has the scene stealing first appearance for the issue and artist Rebekah Isaacs continues to give Willow a breezy appearance in the second panel by having a few strands of her hair caught in her supernatural flight — I love this! The characters’ reactions to what the president and Reyes say are spot on: Spike is angry, Buffy concerned, and Willow hopeful. Isaacs is a master in making her characters emote and this continues to show she’s an incredible illustrator. The final panel on 4 is a great portrait of the Slayer reaching for something that provides a transition to the next page. Isaacs can also tell a story without text; Page 6 has text, and by all means Read it!, but look at how the basic idea of what’s occurring is told in her imagery. I especially like the tiny hand that emerges in the fourth panel to take the weapon from the man’s hand. The bottom panel on 9 nicely shows the distance, real and philosophical, between the characters and not just the different in their heights. The second panel on 10 has no dialogue and none is needed because the look that one character gives another is absolutely intense: this is not an over-the-top image, but something grounded in absolute reality. The distance is reinforced in the next panel, as well as who is on whose side. Page 16 is my favorite of the issue for showing Willow in action and as a force to be reckoned with. The action is shown from a different point of view on the next page and is followed by Willow’s reaction which is just awesome. That’s the only word I can use for Isaacs’ work: awesome. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The sunset in the first panel on the first page is gorgeous in orange. Such an event makes the clouds gorgeous and the water a dirty brown. Dan Jackson begins the book with ominous and muddied colors that set the stage for the dark tone of this issue. Willow and Buffy’s hair make them instant eye catchers on each page they appear, while Spike’s shirt and jacket do the same for him. Buffy’s scythe really takes stage because it’s in a brilliant crimson; this important because this weapon appears in the confrontation on Pages 9 and 10, with it constantly emanating the rage coming out of the Slayer. The fire that begins on 14 is brilliant in yellow and orange, but Willow’s magic really comes to life in a sickly green. This choice of color is essential to furthering the story on the next four pages. I must also mention the terrific lack of color on 19 and 20 when a character enters the story: this brilliantly shows how this individual sucks the life out of a room. Jackson is doing wonderful things to have color enhance the story. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt create scene settings, the story’s title, dialogue, television text, television dialogue, sounds, and the tease for next issue. I’m very pleased to see a different font employed for the dialogue coming from the television, as it provides a visual clue for the reader that what’s being said isn’t coming from one of the characters in the room. I also really enjoy the story’s title; previous seasons have also had enjoyable looking titles, but this is the first one I can recall that’s been inserted into the visual, and in a very Will Eisner way, I might add. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Some things can be more frightening than the supernatural, such as the steps a government takes. The government and the supernatural are heading for a showdown and Buffy Summers is right in the middle. I want more, but I’m worried where it will take the characters I love. 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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