As 2016 wraps up, the release of the second issue in Dark Horse Comics’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 11 taps into the foreboding and uncertain atmosphere hanging thick in the national climate, as we prepare for the the completion of the United States presidential transition and a very different form of governing and leadership in the four years ahead. Writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs remain at the top of their game in the newly released issue, continuing to craft what seems to be shaping up to be one of the most complex, impactful, and important seasons of Buffy yet.
Buffy: Season 11 #2 continues the Scooby gang’s attempt to navigate the rough waters following the devastating attack on San Francisco by a Shenlong dragon. While Buffy and her friends struggle to keep up with the quickly changing political climate, the US government begins to clamp down on the supernatural citizens in its borders by appointing a Secretary of the Supernatural, imposing a mandatory census of all magical individuals, and pushing through a broadly written emergency bill establishing unauthorized use of supernatural powers a crime. The attack of the Shenlong has fully divided the nation, encouraging fear and paranoia that quickly lead to violence between the human and supernatural communities, forcing the Slayer to confront legal challenges to her powers and abilities that are, frankly, unprecedented.
With its second issue, Buffy: Season 11 hits like a bomb that is sure to leave readers blown away with how troublingly relevant it feels to the uncertain future we’re rushing towards. While both our cast of characters and the leaders of the nation scramble to discover what unknown entity employed the Shenlong dragon as a deliberate act of war, Spike repeatedly warns the others of the country’s disturbing leanings towards fascism. Gage’s script for this issue moves at an almost break-neck pace, creating a real page-turner while also conveying the all-too-familiar feeling of every passing day bringing another unexpected and stomach-turning advancement away from the world we used to know. While the political and cultural metaphors and analogies used by Gage are extremely powerful on their own, he also manages to confront the muddy morality of Buffy’s position as the Slayer and the ethical questions regarding her “judge, jury, and executioner” method of dispatching vampires and other baddies (a complex and fascinating topic once relegated only to fan forums and unauthorized Buffy essay books).
When it comes to the artwork for Buffy: Season 11 #2, Isaacs’ amazing range of talent is on full display. She flawlessly elevates what is already a hugely powerful story and demonstrates a supernatural (Watch out, Rebekah!) ability to mesh the magical and mystical with the modern and mundane. It’s exactly what a Buffy comic needs from its visuals, and, again, the fans of the series as a whole are lucky to have Isaacs as a member of the creative team.
– Secretary of the Supernatural Ophelia Reyes seems like an intriguing new character, as frightening as her policies may be. Jordan, former Deepscan member and now government-backed slayer, also seems like an exciting addition to the book. Gage and Isaacs have a good history of introducing new and intriguing characters to the Buffyverse, and while these two are clearly current adversaries for our heroes, they exist in a gray area, morality wise, and it’ll be interesting to see where this season takes them.
– The concept of rights for supernatural beings like vampires and demons is fraught with complexity, and I applaud Gage for addressing it head on. Hopefully, we get more than a few throwaway lines and this becomes a major theme of the season. The inherent conflict of a vampire population attempting to integrate with their former food items was always something I has wished True Blood had tackled in a more thorough way, and perhaps this season of Buffy can handled that task more aptly.
– The final page in this book packs a powerful punch, especially at a time when the president elect’s supporters are literally discussing registries and internment camps in the public forum. While I applaud the creative team and Dark Horse Comics for refusing to let their continuation of Buffy become the watered-down, fan-servicing rehash that many licensed comics are, as I stated in my last review, I’m very fearful for what lies ahead for our beloved characters. Keeping things in perspective, it’s also important that this minor dread many fans feel for these fictional characters is being felt currently in a very real sense by many of the minorities within our country who have no idea what the future holds and how to respond to the disturbing rhetoric being spewed by the president elect, his incoming cabinet, and his supporters. Buffy has always been a story full of deeper meaning and important messages, and this is one that can’t be missed or ignored.
FINAL VERDICT: There’s no hype here when I say that Buffy: Season 11 is shaping up to be one of the best seasons we Buffy fans have yet experienced in comic book form. If the quality of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs‘ work is at this level only two issues in, who can predict what heights this drama will reach in the next few months? Simply put, Buffy: Season 11 is a must-buy for not only any Buffy fan, but anyone who appreciates great storytelling, compelling characters, and fantastic artwork.
Buffy: Season 11 #2 hits shelves today (Wednesday, December 21st), 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 catch up with you next month as we move forward into the unknown together.
‘Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer