In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 11 #9

A roller coaster of plot twists and action with visuals to die for! Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: Regular cover illustrator Steve Morris continues to be on fire with these covers! Buffy is holding a torch in one hand and the scythe in the other as ten violet colored giant bats circle her. She’s just swung the torch, as evidenced by the trail of flame that’s warding off the monsters. She looks phenomenal and the bats look awesome, with their coloring making them stunning. The title and credits are at the bottom of the book to preserve the visual. Thank you for that, Dark Horse Comics! The Variant cover has script by Christos Gage, art by Georges Jeanty, with inks by Dexter Vines, and colors by Dan Jackson, and letters by Comicraft. It’s hard to help the Slayer, as sister Dawn and Xander try to decide what to bring with them to help Buffy and Willow. “Like, should we bring stuff to read, or the crossbow?” Dawn asks as she’s sizing up the weapon. Xander’s first response is serious, but the second one hilarious, but true. This second panel also features a great visual joke. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: “The Great Escape” is scripted by Christos Gage and picks up immediately from last issue with Faith, Buffy, and Willow confronting the wardens of the supernatural internment camp. Buffy and Willow don’t have their powers, so this six to three fight doesn’t seem like it’s going to be fair, sparking their leader to say to Faith, “How’s sass gonna help against a small army of chicks just as strong as you?” Faith smiles, “I fight dirty.” She throws a smoke bomb and lunges at the women, fighting them single-handedly, ordering her friends to “GO!!” Buffy and Willow make a break for the chamber that contains the device that erased their abilities, but it’s guarded by two other super-powered women. Buffy attacks the pair so Willow can get to the door. She takes a hard left to the face and blood comes pouring out of her mouth. Faith is still engaged with the first six, with blood flying, and some of it her own. Buffy goes Stooges, and pokes her attacker in the eyes, giving Willow enough time to get in the chamber, shut the door, and lock it. The women outside start to beat on it, their strength shown by the dents their fists make in the metal barrier. And that’s when something interesting happens. Wow! This is a major payoff issue. If you’ve wanted to see Buffy and Willow act like heroes, this is the issue you’ve been waiting for. Willow’s first dialogue on Page 6 is awesome, and Buffy’s lines at the bottom of 8 are music to any fan’s ears. Faith does something incredible at the top of 10, and her dialogue with Buffy is gold. 13 has the story truly going to epic heights, with the return of a popular bloodsucker on the same page. As if this weren’t good enough, the first two panels on 14 had me jumping up and down in joy. But wait! There are six more pages left and things take a turn toward another state with an entirely different set of threats. The final two pages change the threat and have Buffy considering her next move. Fantastic! Overall grade: A+

The art: Georges Jeanty provides the pencils and Dexter Vines the inks for this issue and it’s going to be a memorable one for fans of the Scoobies. Faith dominates the first page as she faces the antagonists. The confidence she has is obvious with the way she places the scythe over one shoulder. Her smile at the bottom of Page 1 is absolutely wicked. Fans of the series will know it’s all going to hit the fan with her making that grin. The action that follows is frantic, with Lehane tearing into the group of women, while Buffy and Willow look on shocked. Buffy’s confrontation with the pair on Page 3 shows her making a valiant effort in the third panel. I was horrified by the amount of blood that spills out of her in the fourth panel. Willow is absolutely horrified at what’s occurring before her. Her reactions have no dialogue and none is needed for Jeanty and Vines have her in an unquestionable panic. The blood that flows on the following page intensified Willow’s fear as she tried to enter the room. Not easing her or the reader’s fears is the increase in blood that happens on Page 5: I can’t remember seeing this much damage done to Faith or Buffy in any comic adventures. Everything changes on the next page with the fourth panel creating cheers heard round the world. The close-up on 7 is flat out incredible. It’s badass. The bottom of 8 has a great sense of motion with the “items” in the air. The top of 13 increases the numbers of characters involved in the battle and they look great. Something occurs in the first panel on 14 that’s my favorite panel of the issue: just so darned cool! A numerous threat rears its many heads on 18 and they, too, look great. The battle is quick, but good, ending with conversation that’s shown with the point of view moving around excellently. The visuals on this book remain stellar. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This book uses a lot of red. No, seriously. A lot of red. This color is first seen in the scythe that Faith wields, but as the battle continues colorist Dan Jackson has this coming close to Hammer Horror levels of crimson. Wow! The smoke bomb has Jackson making each plume creepy in gray with highlights. Buffy’s first move as an aggressor has the background going orange and yellow to highlight her moves. The lack of colors for the room Willow enters is terrific, making it seem futuristic and way too clean. Colors definitely show the reader what’s happened on 6, but I can’t say what the colors are or what they’re used for without spoiling things. Every shade of gray is used for the threats that first appear on Page 17 and they enhance these individuals’ nature considerably. The oranges used for the sunset on the final page give the book a fiery conclusion, hinting that the heat will continue elsewhere. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt create this issue’s dialogue, story’s title, sounds, yells, a creature’s dialogue, scene settings, a television broadcast, vampire dialogue, and the tease for next issue. The sounds are killer on this issue with CHRAKK, VVRAMM, TOOOM, and BROK being my favorites. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the scene settings are strong and the vampire dialogue is exceptional looking, matching the undead’s appearances perfectly. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A roller coaster of plot twists and action to die for! I have no clue where this is going and I can’t wait to get there. 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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