In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #23
The covers: Phil Noto’s Regular cover was so gorgeous I could not pass this up: Illyria losing her power and becoming Fred, again. Or, so you’d think…This is just a beautiful image. The Alternate cover is by Georges Jeanty with Karl Story and Michelle Madsen showing our three heroes in the well. Will is sacred, Xander is in peril and Buff’s on the attack against a giant monster. It’s terrific, but I just love Noto’s! Overall grades: Regular A+ and Alternate A
The story: Part Three of “The Core” opens in a location we only got a taste of last issue that I wanted more of and–BOY!–do I get more! Siphon and Simone have reached their goal, and Siphon is starting to lose his focus having absorbed so much power in the last two issues. Higher up, Buffy tells the last of the Council they’re on their own to stop the pair down below; she has to save her sister first. And speaking of Dawnie, she disappearing quickly–even Willow and Buffy can’t remember her name. Andrew Chambliss continues his winning streak of amazing stories with this issue which contains a major moment for everyone, but my favorite, again, was Xander, who steals the book. Buffy and Willow have a terrific scene about power and trust, with Will having a Dorothy Gale moment. Even villainous Simone gets to shine this issue as her character takes an even darker turn. And please look at Spike’s phone as he’s speaking with Xander (I’m going to credit this to Chambliss rather than the art team). The highest compliment I can give is “This is great” and “I want more, now.” Overall grade: A+
The art: Pencils are once again by Georges Jeanty with inks, again, by Dexter Vines. Please don’t misconstrue “again” as a negative. Why would anyone want to break up this winning team? Just when I think this pair can’t show me anything new I get treated to a visual epic in action and scope and drama. The Well is an amazing setting, the likes of which I’m sure Joss would have wanted for the show but couldn’t get until the series’ finale. The cast of characters in the (surviving) Council is amazing, with the one watching Xander a delight. The five regular cast members (Buffy, Will, Xander, Dawn, and Spike) will raise your pulse before they break you heart with each scream, whimper, glare, and stare. Stand outs include panel six of Page 5, panel three on 8, all of Page 14, and all of 19 and 20. And without divulging the ending, the final panel on 24 is beautifully sick in the nicest possible way. Overall grade: A+
The colors: No pun intended in light of this story’s title, but Michelle Madsen’s work contributes so much depth to the story it’s something every reader should pay close attention to. Look how the bright colors at the top of Page 1 preview the brightness our two foes are viewing. The bright orange on Page 5 highlights Spike’s change, which is echoed for Xander on 8. Dawn’s coloring throughout emphasizes physically what’s happening to her. In fact, she’s beginning to match the background of her apartment. And Buffy and Willow’s red scene is a thing of beauty. Eisner Committee, wake up already and award this talent! Overall grade: A+
The letters: Spike’s vamp voice, Xander’s pitch perfect answer, and several sounds punctuate Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt’s work. Beginning on Page 16 a sound starts that appears the artists placed into the work, rather than these two talented letterers, because it looks nothing like I’ve seen this duo do before. This works fine because this sound is a portent of impending trouble. Overall grade: A+
The final line: Another issue that proves this is the best continuing adventures of a television series. Highly recommended! Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years, and only recently has been teaching 9th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.