In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #28

You'll have your heart pulled in every direction, just as a Buffy book should.

The covers: The Regular cover by Steve Morris is a trippy piece suiting its subject matter. Trying to escape their dimensional prison, Dawn is atop a flight of black stairs with Xander just below her on the same, upside down. The pair seem to be aware of the other’s position, but don’t seem too distraught. Just to add to the strangeness of this Escher inspired work, giant eyeballs float around the pair from many different angles. This is a great design, terrific execution, and fantastic coloring. The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson. Focusing on the title character, she sits on the ground in a park, tears falling from her eyes as the vampire she loves walks away. This image rips my heart out of my chest. I had to buy this cover for the punch it packs. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+

The story: Last issue’s cliffhanger was Spike telling Buffy he thought they should break up. Writer Christos Gage starts up this installment of All In, titled “Taking Ownership”, with Spike stating why he thinks they’d both be better if they weren’t involved and it’s gut wrenchingly honest: “We can’t grow old together, because I’ll never grow old. We can’t have children, if you ever want that.” Buffy’s response to his reasons at the top of Page 3 is outstanding. Her follow up is even better. What she says and why she says it are completely unexpected and that’s one of the immense joys of this issue. However, the story doesn’t just focus on the Slayer; Willow gets a major relationship moment on Pages 4 and 5. If Spike’s opening dialogue didn’t effect a reader, Willow’s comments will. After these heartbreaking pages Gage then follows Dawn and Xander’s trek home, traveling from dimension to dimension, encountering oddities of all kinds. Without giving too much away, two of the dimensions are The Dimension of Large Shrimp and Triptopia. Usually one panel serves to showcase the location, but each is bizarre and more often than not very funny. My favorite occurs at the bottom of Page 12 because it’s funny and…you know. Even Andrew gets two pages which have him confronting someone he thought did him wrong. This issue has action, but, again, Gage has made the characters and their lives, their feelings, lead. For fervent fans, each episode will move them, and for the casual fan even he or she will feel the terrible decisions some of the characters make. The final six pages gave me continuous goosebumps. There’s a character for every reader to latch onto and for that reason alone this issue shows why these characters continue to be written about and Gage proves he’s a master at telling their tales. Overall grade: A+

The art: There are several silent reactions in this issue. If the visuals fail to clue the reader in to what the character is thinking in silence, then the story will have no impact. Throughout the run of this season Rebekah Isaacs has shown herself to be an incredible illustrator of emotions, both obvious and insinuated. For example, the final panel on the first page clues readers into Buffy’s state with her positioning and emotion on her face: she’s not looking at Spike, yet she’s considering all that he’s saying. This continues on the second page as Spike continues to spill his guts, which is obviously paining him beyond measure, but Buffy is silent and still. The final panel on the page contains no dialogue, however the reader knows that she’s making a decision. It comes in the first panel on Page 3, and even without the dialogue the visual tells the reader what she’s thinking and feeling. Buffy’s exit in the last panel shows how determined she is with her decision. This is a conversation that Isaacs has made incredibly strong. Willow’s exit on 5 is just as emotional, but it has an entirely different tone. These intense situations are intercut with Dawn and Xander making their way through several dimensions. As they travel their clothes change, adding and losing items, and the inhabitants of each location are wildly different. The final three panels of the book are some of the warmest that have been in a Buffy book and they are glorious to look upon. And wouldn’t you know it, one of them is textless, but everyone will know what’s being thought. I’m standing and applauding Isaacs for this book. Overall grade: A+

The colors: All of the drama of the book is intensified because of the coloring from Dan Jackson. Buffy and Spike have the most emotional scenes and they come off as incredibly strong because they occur in brightly colored places. This gives their conversation the feeling that everything is clearly seen, nothing is hidden. That’s exactly the right tone for these heartrending situations. Willow’s pages are somewhat dim, given the shady nature of their location, but notice how when she exits the light has come to her eyes. The scenes involving Dawn and Xander are incredibly varied, so Jackson gets to employ a variety of colors on them, with the colors in the two dimensions I’ve mentioned earlier being extremely playful and appropriate. This is a winning job by Jackson on every page. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt provide dialogue, story title, scene settings, and a whisper. There could have been some unique fonts for the inhabitants of some of the dimensions, to give them an additionally alien appearance, but there weren’t any other opportunities for Starkings or Betancourt to mix things up with this dialogue heavy issue. Overall grade: A

The final line: You’ll have your heart pulled in every direction, just as a Buffy book should. What a roller coaster! Absolutely recommended. 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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