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‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 11 #12’ - Comic Book Review (Buffy Summers... Slayer of Vampires… Breaker of Demons… and Acquaintance of Dragons)

The season finale is here for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 11 with the release of issue #12. Telling a shorter and more focused story than previous seasons, the last year has seen some of the best work yet from writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs. In a season clearly reflecting (or perhaps, given the advanced schedule of comic book production, anticipating) the culture and mood of current times, Buffy and company have faced bigotry, internment camps, politicians who are an utter disappointment, and more over the last eleven issues. This final issue of the season instead sees the Scooby Gang on offense against their oppressors and demonstrates, as the Radio Head song goes, “This is what you get when you mess with us.”

SPOILERS BELOW



Buffy: Season 11 #12 opens with Press Secretary Joanna Wise draining the supernatural energy of a massive and powerful Shenlong dragon. Brimming with supposedly god-like power, only the Slayer and her friends can stop this megalomaniac and save supernatural beings everywhere from certain destruction. The only question is, what’s it going to take to stop a god? (And where’s Olaf’s Enchanted Hammer of the Troll Gods when you need it?)

Gage and Isaacs have, during their time on Buffy and Angel & Faith, proven time and time again that they are extremely skilled when it comes to translating the look and feel of the TV series to the printed page, and this goes double when it comes to finales. Everything about issue #12 feels grander and more epic than the rest of the season, while never losing the humor, heart, and quirkiness that has always defined the series throughout all of its seasons. As usual, Gage nails the voice of each character as if he’s got Whedon blood pumping through his veins and continues to give comic book readers a reason to follow Buffy and the Scoobies on their latest adventure, despite the fact that their show has been off the air for over a decade.

Of course, most of the praise I’ve rained down on Gage also applies to Isaac, and maybe even more so. Her artwork, as usual, is stunning in this issue, highlighting all of her strengths, from her deft ability to illustrate the inner emotions on the face of characters we know an love, to her skill in depicting monsters, big bads, and the forces of evil in general. I’ve raved about it before, but Isaacs also is just utterly fantastic when it comes to Buffy’s trademark physical (and magical) conflicts in the sequential art medium. This final issue of the series brings with it some thrilling action and combat, and while Gage keeps it emotionally grounded and resonate, Isaacs is the one who really makes it “sing.”

Dan Jackson also deserves a shoutout for his absolutely phenomenal coloring.


Miscellaneous Notes:



- One thing Gage must be applauded for is not letting the characters revert back from the maturity they’ve gained over the last few season. It would be very easy to allow these characters to slip back into the roles and actions that have defined them for some time, but Gage not only gave us a powerful, overarching plot for this season, but also did so without reverting to some new form of romantic strife or any of the other patterned behavior that the characters have been through, learned from, and progressed on.

- As I’ve said over and over, Buffy: Season 11 was absolutely stellar and easily one of the best of the comic book and television seasons overall. But, while I did love much of this season, for one that struck so close to home in regard to its themes and the difficulties facing out nation, the “cost” felt very light. Buffy and Spike endure some sick burns (the flaming kind, not the verbal kind), but other than that, our gang emerges pretty much unscathed in every way in the end. That’s not to say that elements like the internment camps or bigotry against the supernatural didn’t hit there target or that characters must die, friendships must be shattered, etc., at the end of every season, but I feel that it’s going to prove much more painful, much more scarring to ride out the storm in the real world.


- Taking a page from Angel’s handbook, Buffy and Willow team up with the dragon.  Nice synchronicity, even if unintended.

- As one of the few fans who doesn’t hate Riley Finn, it was nice to see Buffy’s Captain America and his wife supervising the President’s administration regarding supernatural policies. Is there really a better pair for the job?

- The reversal of the “slayer spell” that allowed Buffy to share her power in the TV series’ final episode was a huge moment, but so was Buffy’s decision to return the power to Jordan and the other slayers who stood against her. Buffy has every reason to be vengeful and turn her back on these women, but she doesn’t choose that path. She knows where that path leads and knows what it’s like to lose one’s power. Buffy’s been my hero for a long time, and it’s moments like that one which provided a perfect example why.

- Readers who pay attention to details (Yes, there are a lot of you out there.) will notice what I assume is a sly reference to the upcoming Giles miniseries (written by Joss Whedon) from Dark Horse Comics. Those who missed it should check out the second-to-last page of the issue.

- The final page of this issue is beautiful, bad ass, and totally Spuffy-riffic. That look. Buffy’s hair. That kiss. Merciful Zeus.


FINAL VERDICT: As long as Gage and Isaacs are involved, no true fan should miss a single season (or issue) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Buffy: Season 11 is no exception.




Buffy: Season 11 #12 hits shelves today (Wednesday, October 25th), so get out to your local comic book retailer and pick up a copy! 



That’s all for now, my fellow comic book sniffers. As usual, keep an eye out for my traditional “10 canon-worthy moments” article, this time focused, of course, on Buffy: Season 11. Look for that piece to post before the end of the year and, in case you missed it, be sure to check out my piece from last year:

Ten Canon-Worthy Moments from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10

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'Till the end of the world,

Bryant the Comic Book Slayer

@ComicBookSlayer

Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President
Favorite Comic BookPreacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
Favorite TV ShowBuffy the Vampire Slayer
Favorite BookThe Beach by Alex Garland

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