MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
Issue #25 opens with the Scooby gang confronted with the threat of an opening to a hell dimension potentially merging with their own world and causing, as kid Giles puts it, “apocalyptic results.” Fortunately for our own dimension, Dawn Summers‘ previous existence as the powerful bundle of magical energy known as “The Key” is exactly the solution needed for this year‘s end-of-the-world scenario. While Dawn may be able to close the dimensional rift causing all the drama, the hard pill to swallow for the rest of the group is the fact that she’ll be trapped on the other side, left to find her own way back to her home dimension. And, while Buffy and her friends are busy with this conundrum, an old adversary makes their move against the group...
Gage is solid and steady as usual, crafting an impactful and dramatic issue and staying true to the characters, especially when it comes to their reaction to Dawn’s sacrifice (Buffy and Spike protesting, Xander refusing to leave the side of a friend, etc.).
Speaking of Dawn, this is an unusually generous issue for the character, imbuing her with real power and the confidence and ability to make her own decision in regards to her (and the world’s) fate. I hesitate to go so far as to say that in previous seasons Dawn has been a character without agency, but like many members of the Scooby gang who aren’t blonde vampire slayers, she quite often fills the “damsel in distress” role. Because of this, it’s extremely satisfying to see her not only gain certain god-like powers, but also demand to be treated as an equal by her sister, insisting that “this isn’t your decision. It’s mine.” Gage also writes some absolutely beautiful moments for Xander (I think “Friends don’t let friends stay in hell alone” may be my new favorite Buffy quote and personal mantra.) and finally pulls back the curtain regarding the origin of “Ghost Anya” and the dark force manipulating her.
As I mentioned earlier, this is the last issue of Buffy: Season 10 featuring the ridiculously awesome talents of artist Megan Levens (the also ridiculously awesome Rebekah Isaacs will be returning to finish out the final issues of the season), but, boy, does she go out with a bang! Issue #25 is an issue filled with subtle emotional beats and plenty of “talking heads” (something that can really be a challenge for some artists), but Levens masters every panel of every scene. She’s been a powerful and positive presence on not only this season, but the Buffy franchise as a whole, and one can only hope that Dark Horse is smart enough to bring Levens back for next season.
FINAL VERDICT: Another brilliant issue from Gage and Levens that, once again, feels unbelievably close in tone and voice to the beloved television series it’s based on. Simply a must for any self-proclaimed Buffy fan.
That’s all for now, my fellow comic book sniffers.
'Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer