In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 11 #5

Politics and the supernatural continue to plague Buffy. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: Finally, Ms. Rosenberg gets a solo cover! Looking like a classic advertisement for Coca-Cola, including a black sticker in the upper right that says “MMMM! Tastes Like Magic!” Willow is wearing a cute black top with an oversized white collar, taking a sip from a bottle with a straw. The bottle is shaped like a woman and the green liquid within it is creating a pale green trail of smoke that bears the logo for this book. Fantastic cover from Steve Morris. The “deleted scene” Variant cover hails from Christos Gage on script, Georges Jeanty on pencils, Dexter Vines on inks, Dan Jackson on colors, and Comicraft on letters. This is a three panel sequence that shows Buffy in her new job as trustee for the camp. A demon taunts her from a distance, calling her, among other things, “Tool of the oppressor!” Buffy keeps walking until several tentacles wrap around the demon and he begs for help. Buffy says to herself, “This is job is making me miss the Doublemeat Palace.” I am loving these variant covers and everything about this is perfect. Please note: I had to scan my copy of this cover to use in my review. It is much more vivid on the actual book. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: A group of creatures have circled around a vampire about to kill another. Just as he’s about to make the killing bite a “Let him go” is uttered. He turns to see Buffy standing next to him with her scythe ready. “Only warning.” He throws his prey aside to take a chunk out of the Slayer and learns the hard way that’s not to be done. One member of the crowd, an ogre, spreads hate, “Traitor! Collaborator! She sides with the humans, even though they locked her in here! Because she’s a slayer, like the guards! A born killer! She doesn’t care, as long as she gets to murder us!” Buffy walks back to her trailer ignoring his protests. Spike is awake and asks if she’s had a rough day. She spills her frustration and anger onto him, and he knows it. She apologizes and he replies, “…I’ve a feeling we’ll make worse compromises than this before long.” Christos Gage then moves to Willow who’s doing something she’s not happy about. This story, outlined by Joss Whedon and Gage, scripted by the latter, nicely straddles the line between action and political injustice. Willow is dealing with big issues in trying to save the women practicing magic, and she’s come up with a terrible way to save them on Page 6. Complicating matters for Buffy is the ogre who’s got a plan for justice that could cost several of the detainees their lives. Naturally, Buffy intervenes. What the Slayer does on 13 and 14 is amazing. One would think that would gain some respect from Jordan, but that’s not the case. I haven’t wanted to see an antagonist go down so hard since Warren…But that is not in this issue. The story moves to different areas of the camp with Buffy, Willow, and Spike learning that this detention center is hiding something. Something major. Things are definitely heating up! Overall grade: A+

The art: I continue to bow down before the artistry of Georges Jeanty and Dexter Vines. The detention center provides ample opportunity for them to create a plethora of creatures to inhabit the facility and there are some marvelous ones populating this issue. The fight scenes are extremely well choreographed, with the opening fight between Buffy and the vampire excellent. The demise of the vampire on Page 3 is terrific. Notice how the ogre gets a darker outline at the bottom of the same page, ensuring that the reader’s eyes are drawn to that character as he spits his vile accusations. Spike’s reaction at the bottom of Page 4 is exactly like that of a spouse who realizes the stress his or her partner is feeling, and being unable to do anything about it. The highlight of the book is the fourth panel on 6 when Willow shows the absolute horror she feels at doing something she’s suggested. I’ve never seen Willow look this frightened and it suits the position the story has placed her in. Jeanty and Vines are masters at the reaction shot, where a character is silent but communicates much to the reader. A terrific one occurs in the final panel on 9, where two people have obviously made a decision. The battle that begins on 11 is also top notch, with the first panel being a strong one that sizes up both characters for the reader. The catch on 12 is flippin’ awesome. The mob fight on 13 and 14 is like something out of a Robert E. Howard tale, given the lone warrior battling against impossible numbers comprised of every beast of shape and size. 17 and 18 show locations within the camp not seen before and they look great. The reactions of two characters in the fourth panel on 20 reveal themselves fully to the reader. The visuals on this book are stellar. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This book is set in an internment camp in a dirt ridden setting. The colors should be dull and dreary, but Dan Jackson inserts something bright in every page to get the reader’s focus. Buffy’s scythe on the first page gets attention, with the Slayer being between two bright lights, framing her as pure. The first panel on the following page uses a dull orange to tan all but the vampire and his prey. The scythe becomes important in the fight, resulting in the vamp’s death. The putrid green used for a vampire’s passing welcomingly appears on 3. Notice how the colors start very darkly on 4, only to get brighter the more Buffy speaks to Spike, ending almost in pure white, now that she’s spoken her heart. The use of magic by Calliope on 7 is wonderfully luminescent. When Buffy and the ogre fight, the scythe again gets focus, however the backgrounds go orange and yellow when the ruckus begins. The final page has some strong lighting for a fireside discussion. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt create the story’s title, vampire specific speech, dialogue, sounds, scene settings, whispers, a television broadcast, and the tease for next issue. I really liked the whispering in this issue; it was tiny, but not so tiny as to be impossible to read, but enough to suggest that the pair doing so did not want to be overheard. The sounds are also strong in this issue, with them being absolutely necessary during the fights. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Politics and the supernatural continue to plague Buffy. Issue after issue, this book shows it is the leader for how to continue a series’ adventures after it’s left television. 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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