In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 12 #1

The Scoobies have reunited to stop time traveling bads from changing the past to rule the future!

The covers: A trio to find for this opening installment in the newest season of the Slayer’s exploits. The Regular cover is by Stephanie Hans and it’s gorgeous. Buffy is holding the scythe as supernatural smoke writhes about it. Those same unearthly energies are causing her hair to rise about her head creating a mane of beautiful yellow. Buffy looks fantastic, her likeness to Sarah Michelle Gellar outstanding, her clothes great, and the colors outstanding. This illustration is poster, print, and tee shirt worthy. The Variant cover is by Georges Jeanty and Karl Story with Dan Jackson and I bought this frontpiece because I’m a fan of this trio of artists. Plus, what a cover! This was the image used to tease this series and what a tease it is! Buffy is wearing a belt that has three stakes holstered in it and she’s got the scythe on her back. Oh, and she’s cradling a baby! She’s holding the infant to her chest and is holding its head. The Slayer is positively beaming! What does this mean? Only one way to find out — buy this book! A surprising entry is a third cover, the Ultravariant by Karl Moline. With the head of Fray in the distance watching, the forces of good and evil race at each other from opposite sides: Buffy, Willow, Giles, Angel, Faith, Spike, Xander, and Illyria versus Harth and his demon horde. The characters are colored brown and are against a crimson background. Neat, tense image to tease readers what lies within. Overall grades: Regular A+, Variant A+, and Ultravariant A- 

The story: The book opens in the 23rd century where a wizard is torturing meek, little Harth, Fray’s twin brother to get information on The Reckoning, the final battle that ended with demons and vampires wiped from the world and slayers with them. After receiving this information, the evil wizard produces the Scepter of the Veils which will allow him to time travel to the past, make himself all-powerful during The Reckoning, return home, kill Slay, and rule the world. The only problem is this wizard isn’t aware of what’s going to happen next. Something surprising happens and the story moves to the present, one year since the conclusion of Season 11. Buffy scoops a little girl out of her crib and cradles the child. Just as she lays a smooch on the infant, an unseen speaker says, “Buffy! Are you wearing your scythe around the baby again?” “Aw, crap,” is all she can say as the speaker enters the room. Who this person is I’ll leave unrevealed, so you can enjoy the surprise yourself. Suffice to say, Buffy is at housewarming party whose participants include Willow, Spike, Giles, Xander, and Dawn. The dialogue between the characters is outstanding, with events touched upon without being fully explained; the characters know what have happened, the reader will just have to fill in the gaps for his or herself. Angel and Illyria arrive with the former revealing that his sources tell him Wolfram & Hart are coordinating an attack on the Slayers. This prompts the Scoobies to go into action and the results don’t go well. The action is great with an infamous villain making a dramatic return. The fallout from the fight has the gang making a decision to do something that ends with a cliffhanger for the issue. It’s fantastic to see everyone in the cast reunited to kick some butt and with the impending Reckoning close at hand the clock appears to be ticking for Buffy. I loved this issue conceived by Joss Whedon and Christos Gage, with Gage scripting. Overall grade: A+

The art: Georges Jeanty provides the pencils with inks by Karl Story. Jeanty was the penciler when the Season series started at Dark Horse and it’s good to see him back on this book. The opening three pages show him and Story creating some excellent evil creatures that surround the wizard and Harth. The first panel on Page 3 is a good, violent surprise that left me speechless. The close-up of the character at the bottom of the same page is outstanding. When Buffy picks up the baby it’s an incredibly warm moment and the only thing missing from this page is motherly music. When the guests arrive for the party their entrances are enjoyable, especially to see how others react to them. Spike’s arrival is great and the top of Page 6 will definitely cause fans to focus on the image. Jeanty’s art uses thin lines to create depth in characters’ faces and might take some getting used to for some fans, such as at the bottom of Page 5, but I like it. I enjoy how Jeanty and Story create emotions on these iconic figures, such as when Buffy rolls her eyes or Angel facepalms. When the threat is announced, Buffy races to a location in the house to retrieve some items and she looks killer in the final panel on 11. The gathering of demons on 12 is fantastic, with the close-ups great. When the action breaks out on 13 it’s epic as the heroes break off in different directions fighting foes of every size and composition. The reveal at the bottom of 13 had me cheering. The entrance of the Big Bad on 15 is outstanding with its identity causing one character to really lose it. The response at the top of 17 left me gasping. The magic in use on 18 and 19 is awesome. The final image of the book is a great cliffhanger, with a familiar locale revisited, though with some very unhappy individuals. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The first panel of the book has a blast of fire hit Harth as he’s restrained by sick green bands of energy. The wizard that’s torturing him is colored in grays and light blues to have him stand out against the dark background and his followers that sit on the floor. The flashback to The Reckoning gets reds, yellows, and oranges to show this apocalyptic moment. Dan Jackson then brightens the visuals in the final panel as Harth and the wizard come closer to the reader. Clothing the wizard in a bright red is a terrific way to give him focus and create some irony with the top of Page 3. The baby’s room is in pale violets, allowing Buffy and the tot to pop off the page, and it also allows the crimson of the scythe to really stick out. When two characters meet at the top of 6 note how the background goes dark, suggesting distance between them, though their faces tell a different tale. The fight sequence has the strongest coloring of the issue with monsters of all colors and magic from Willow punctuating it. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt provides the issue’s text which includes scene settings, yells, dialogue, vampire speech, a passage from a book, sounds, signage, and the tease for next issue. I’ve always been delighted by the unique font used for vampires’ speech as it looks just as it would sound. The yells range from small to large to show the reader how loud to interpret these utterances. The sounds are also fun to read, with the designs of several very elegant, not to mention the THOOMs and FWAP appropriately ginormous. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The Scoobies have reunited to stop time traveling bads from changing the past to rule the future. There’s plenty of action, several surprises, and the dialogue between the characters outstanding. The art is also top notch, with characters resembling their actor counterparts and being superb during the massive fight. A must-read for fans of the Slayer. Overall grade: A+

To buy a print copy go to https://www.tfaw.com/Comics/Profile/Buffy-The-Vampire-Slayer%3A-Season-Twelve—The-Reckoning-1-%28Karl-Moline-Ultra-Variant%29___568745

To buy a digital copy go to https://digital.darkhorse.com/books/2a3ecba23e0b4fb59110ccfa5c05e01a/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-season-12-the-reckoning-1

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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