Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 11 Issue #4 (Review)

Buffy Season 11

Comic: Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Season 11 (Issue #4)

Release Date: February 15, 2017

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Price: $3.99

‘Buffy’ exudes strength, charm and realistic life lessons in yet another successful chapter of the 11th season.

After last month’s phenomenal issue of Buffy season 11, we find Buffy, Spike and Willow relocated in the government aided “Safe Zone” for supernatural beings. When it picks up, they’ve already been living in the quarantined camp for a few weeks, but not without struggles. The issues takes place almost solely there and primarily focusing on the trio’s developments with a situation nobody is quite clear how to handle efficiently. In my previous review, I pointed out how strong the series has been from the start and I will confirm that this season has only gotten stronger due to an increasingly impressive fourth chapter to a season unlike the others.

The Safe Zone doesn’t live up to its name, seeming more and more like a demonic camp with trailers, fencing and plenty of pissed off supernatural beings locked away. Buffy, Spike and Willow have attempted to integrate themselves with the others but it wouldn’t be the Scooby gang if they didn’t take on some responsibility. For starters, rations of blood have been handed out to vampires but the resources are scarce which makes a lot of hungry vampires ready to savagely feed. Spike is one of these starved vampires yet Buffy decides she will aid him with her own blood, something she had only previously done for Angel (season 3.) It is evident that this action will put her at a greater risk of dying, but that’s one more reason Buffy’s love for Spike is crystal clear (later, Spike nearly dies from sunlight to save her, it’s a reciprocated love.)

Spike isn’t so keen on taking blood from the woman he truly loves, putting up a fight (non-literal) with Buffy about her gift. Even with both Buffy and Spike having an understanding on the necessity of blood, his impulse to keep feeding is the only point of contention between them, just subtly enough to show us Spike hates what he is and Buffy knows she’ll always be the one to draw the line. Barring their issue with life and death, the connection between the pair continues to flourish partially because of experiencing these extreme circumstances in the company of each other. A simple act of grabbing each others hands when surrounded by fellow supernatural beings and a goodbye kiss when worried about one another adds to their love unlike anything either of them had experienced in past relationships.

Speaking of relationships, Willow is shown to be the guardian of the wiccans in the Safe Zone, who all look up to the most powerful Wicca alive. It may be brief, but we see Willow has grown close to one particular witch who is noted to have a significant other outside of the Safe Zone. (Leave it to Willow to develop a complex relationship, she will never find another Tara.) In the last few seasons there has been budding conflict between Buffy and Willow, but this season having them confront the same issues has given them common ground again to do what they to best: work together. By the end of the issue, Buffy makes a choice that will (hopefully) keep her friends safe and also gives us a nice throwback to the second season of the series as Buffy finds a new role in the Safe Zone – additionally placing Buffy in direct danger.

The art brought back veteran Buffy the Vampire Slayer artist Georges Jeanty, who drew seasons 8 and 9 almost entirely. His art easily captures the Buffy essence and feels comfortable/familiar given how much time was spent observing his take on the Buffyverse – a major welcome back is in order because Georges has created visual wonders once again. From his action sequences that use multiple panels to the smaller attributes like fashion, facial characteristics and the colorful night sky, he’s a perfect fit for BTVS. As we approach the midpoint of Buffy season 11, the art, story and characters are true reasons that continuing Buffy was Dark Horse’s best decision in comic publishing.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– This season consistently impresses with exceptional development and new territory.

– Buffy/Spike nuances are the best kind of reminder of the fact that they are the series best strengths.

– There’s no telling where ‘Buffy’ will head in the second half of the season, but my gut is telling me it’s going to get very serious.

 

 

 

 

 

Angel: Season 11, Issue #1 (Review)

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Comic: Angel – Season 11 (Issue #1)

Release Date: January 18, 2017

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Price: $3.99

Angel is back – but this time, his title series has slightly changed. After two seasons of the comic book Angel & Faith, the formerly dark slayer and brooding vampire with a soul have parted ways. The balance between the pair was shockingly a major selling point of the series initially, but by giving Faith and Angel their respective individual paths, perhaps Angel will return to his roots by recreating the essence of his series. That doesn’t mean Angel is alone, but his current companion and series MVP Fred (with Illyria lurking inside of her) is back into the action as a primary figure in season 11’s narrative.

Much like the Buffy title, Angel will be condensed into a shorter series with a overarching plot – seemingly centered on Angel delving into his past from memories or visions that begin to occur and blind the titular character. Thankfully, Angel isn’t solely in the spotlight and with the inclusion of Fred, the series feels nostalgic to what the television series offered us many years ago. A majority of the core characters from Angel are long gone (Wesley is dead, Cordelia is a higher being and Spike is finally with Buffy again) but Fred was (in my opinion) the greatest strength Angel ever offered us. The naive girl turned survivor of a demon realm became the heart of the franchise and her death sent shockwaves through characters and viewers alike. Now that there has been some time between her reappearance and we know it’s truly Fred who has returned, a big piece of what was missing has come back to its rightful place.

With Fred back in action (still very excited if you couldn’t tell) this brings Illyria as a key role this season. The two must begin to learn how to balance their existences with one another as both their lives have drastically been altered due to the other. It creates one of the most complex and intriguing dynamics with plenty of potential to explore various avenues of storytelling, which I feel coming in upcoming issues. Before the line between god and human can be further developed, Illyria seems to have another purpose: guiding Angel through these flashbacks he has that she deems connected to something “coming.”

We aren’t informed of what this could be just yet (it’s only issue 1 after all) but Illyria takes it upon herself to use her abilities to help see what connection Angel has to whatever trouble is brewing. From this, we know Angel’s season 11 series will involve traveling back through time during major moments of Angel’s life and we can rest assured that his past choices will not be overlooked. Angelus, Twilight, Buffy, Cordelia and so much more elements that impacted Angel profoundly could come up in the span of the series, but with only a slight taste of what’s to come – Angel leaves enough ambiguity to give uncharted direction for his journey with Fred and Illyria down the rabbit hole.

The new writer in Angel (Corinna Bechko) does a nice job at bringing these characters back to life with transition between seasons and a new creative team, as Geraldo Borges is now taking over the artistic depiction of the season – giving readers a new spin on Angel. The first issues takes time to lay some groundwork without giving away too much information, but it’s a promising start to the series. If given the opportunity to see a few familiar faces (still crossing my fingers for a Cordy emergence) this is going to be the season to do it – who wouldn’t want to travel back to the old Angel Investigations gang? Angel Season 11 is available now and is a series that reminds us how expansive the world of ‘Buffy’ truly is.

Overall Score: 7.5/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– Keeping Fred around was one of the smartest creative choices from Joss Whedon and the other writers.

– Angel’s past has always been colorful, so let’s see where the series takes us (it will probably get pretty dark.)

– Is anyone else wondering how things are going for Faith? Just curious.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 11 Issue #3 (Review)

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WickedHorror

 

 

Comic: Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Season 11 (Issue #3)

Release Date: January 27, 2017

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Price: $3.99

Buffy The Vampire has proven to be a cultural phenomenon for more than two decades, with the comic book series allowing Joss Whedon to continue the ‘Buffyverse’ all the way into season 11 (the fourth season in comic form.) As always, the series has explored topics and societal issues that have given them a platform through exceptional storytelling and this season is no different. With tensions arising between humans versus supernatural beings, a worldwide divide is sparking, causing animosity towards one another.

Buffy and the scoobies come to face the issues immediately, as the core group realizes slayers are given an opportunity to be enlisted by the government to round up the supernatural entities and force them into the “safe place” that sounds more like population control and surveillance of those they fear they can’t control. The issue provides Buffy with the opportunity to see what has come of some slayers through the chaos of being called, twilight, the rebellion of Simone, loss of magic and rebirth of a seed (slayers have really had to keep up with Buffy or get lost in the shuffle.) It is clear that not all have used their slayer-ness to do what was intended, but Buffy stands firm on her beliefs and morality, a beacon in the Buffyverse that is always welcomed.

A change of power for Spike and Buffy becomes a large part of the ongoing plot by being forced into a situation, with Buffy making the choice on her own accord to become vulnerable but stay strong in the face of adversity. Spike on the other hand, offers himself as a means to end a battle in the vein of growth and compassion the former villain wasn’t always known to have. That growing connection between Spike and Buffy is a large part of the proof that these characters continue to progress personally and evolve from their past, making Buffy the truest form of a series continuation possible. The relationship doesn’t feel remotely forced and is a perfect way to remind us that after all that they’ve gone through (since season 2) they may understand each other better than any other characters in the Buffyverse.

Willow and Buffy find themselves on the same page for the first time in quite awhile after having polarizing opinions on how to deal with issues stemming from magic and big bads over the years. With there being so much at stake, the timing is crucial for them to be on a united front and I can now see why it was stated that Buffy, Spike and Willow would be a focal point for the season. Willow has become a mother-like role model to many wiccans in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so when her students become targeted by this mystical discrimination she prepares herself to fight for their safety and security – Willow is still considered to practically be a goddess in terms of her continuously changing power.

Even though these characters aren’t exactly the same people they were years ago, the things that make them tick individually are still clearly present and if anything, everyone has fallen into a place in life where they feel a larger responsibility than they have had to face and how to handle things they didn’t foresee becoming an issue. With Christos Gage once again capturing the livewire energy of ‘Buffy’ and Rebekah Isaacs bringing her wonderful view of the Buffyverse to life, Season 11 is a comic must-read.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– Even when Buffy is placed in the spotlight, she finds a way to be relatable and unprepared for what life throws at her, but never have any doubt that the true chosen one can’t handle what comes her way.

– A military presence when it comes to the supernatural/scoobies doesn’t always end well… hopefully this “safe place” isn’t what we are all expecting it to be.

– Spike and Buffy being a true partnership is one of (ok, number one) the healthiest dynamics we’ve seen in the series.

– It seems like Giles may be ready to go through his own growth as he tries to find a balance between who he was and who he is now.

– Giving Dawn a break from the madness is a nice touch after a tumultuous experience last year.