The stellar and standout creative team composed of writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs returns this week for another season of Dark Horse Comics’ canon continuation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Season 11 is a shorter, more focused season than those that came before in the comic book medium, and Gage and Isaacs waste no time in their initial issue, immediately throwing the Slayer and her friends into the deep end and forcing them to deal with a tragic, world-changing event that is sure to affect them all in lasting ways and leave readers eager to see what comes next.
Buffy: Season 11 #1 picks up shortly after the end of Season 10, with Buffy and Spike still continuing both their romantic relationship with each other and their work relationship with Detective Dowling and the San Francisco Supernatural Crimes division. Meanwhile, Willow is helping guide her fellow Wiccans in the way of both the natural and supernatural world, Xander and Dawn are doing “pretty great,” and Giles seems to be finally growing comfortable with his 13-year-old status. All in all, things are good for the Scooby gang, so it’s only natural that it’s also perfect timing for a devastating and city-shattering event to come to town and ruin everything.
As Gage mentioned in my interview with him at last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con (Check that video interview out here.), Buffy: Season 11 opens with a great disaster that our heroes fail to stop, and it’s clear that one of the major plot points of this year will be about dealing with the ramifications of that event in both a personal and global sense for Buffy and her friends. Given what we in the real world have had to contend with in recent years (major terrorist attacks, destructive hurricanes and tsunamis, a certain election many are still reeling from), it seems like, once again, the creators behind Buffy are using the supernatural world and the characters we love to take on issues and themes that should be aptly pertinent and relatably metaphoric for many of their fans. While Buffy: Season 11 #1 is a fantastic premiere issue for the season, it must be mentioned that the destruction of San Francisco feels a bit small on the page compared to the more apocalyptic events we’ve witnessed before in the Buffy TV series and comics, but character reactions depicted by Gage and Isaacs give the event the necessary weight the creative team is looking for. As the group helps rescue and attend to victims of the city-wide debilitating event, Spike states somberly to Buffy that “the world just changed, Slayer. In a big way.” In a world where the military has gone toe to toe with an army of Slayers and the release of a magical plague in London transformed multiple citizens into supernatural creatures, maybe this statement rings a little hollow, but this is the destruction of a major American city in a matter of minutes. As the final pages of Issue #1 indicate, that’s not something our government is ever going to take lightly, no matter how many similar occurrences may have transpired in the past. And, further more, perhaps Spike isn’t describing new change, but more simply massively effecting change. Yes, Buffy and the supernatural world have been at odds before with the military and government, but history doesn’t seem to take any issue with revisiting the past in new forms. As we deal with the potential return of waterboarding, discussion of internment camps, and the return of Nazi-inspired hate groups in our own world, perhaps readers shouldn’t be so skeptical about those in power in human society taking a second or third interest in quelling and controlling the supernatural threats in the world of Buffy.
When it comes to the artwork for Buffy: Season 11 #1, Rebekah Isaacs continues to be a indescribably huge gift to the series and Buffy fans everywhere. Her depictions of the characters and their emotional range continues to impress, her action-packed visuals are both exciting and powerful, and I swear she’s tapping in to “dark magiks” when creating new and horrific beasties to take on the Slayer and her gang.
Oh, she also excels when it comes to dragons. Daenerys ain’t got nothing on her.
The demonic lamprey at the beginning of the issue is a perfect example of Isaacs’ monster-creating skills.
The Shenlong or Chinese storm dragon is actual not a creature of Gage’s or Isaacs’ creation, but part of actual Chinese mythology. It remains to be seen if the Shenlong will appear again, but the Buffy version of this dragon seems to match its abilities in Chinese mythology as a being who controls the wind, clouds, and rains. Wikipedia also mentions that “Chinese people would take great care to avoid offending them, for if they grew angry or felt neglected, the result was bad weather, drought, flood, or thunderstorms.” Was the destruction of San Francisco a random occurrence, or is it possible that Buffy and the Scoobies (or perhaps the United States as a whole) have offended the Shenlong in some way?
FINAL VERDICT: Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs continue to make Dark Horse’s Buffy series one of the best licensed comics on the market. I may have a few minor nitpicks in regards to Buffy: Season 11 #1, but I trust Gage and Isaacs with these characters in ways I haven’t experienced since Joss Whedon was at the helm, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with over the next year. If you’re even the most casual Buffy fan, don’t miss out on this one (or any of the past Dark Horse seasons for that matter).
Buffy: Season 11 #1 hits shelves today (Wednesday, November 23rd), so get out to your local comic book retailer and pick up a copy!
That’s all for now, my fellow comic book sniffers. I’ll see ya next month!
‘Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer