In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 12 #2

This was an enjoyable issue, but not a great one.

The covers: A threesome to find before The Reckoning goes into overdrive for the Slayer. The Regular cover is by Stephanie Hans features the heroes (Fray, Giles, Buffy, Angel, and Illyria) emerging from a pink time portal on the streets of the 23rd century, as shown by the reflection of flying cars in the wet street. I like that Dark Horse put the title of this series and the credits at the bottom of the illustration, allowing the reading to soak in the image completely. Buffy looks great and I’m liking this. The Variant cover is by the interior artist, inker, and colorist: Georges Jeanty and Karl Story with Dan Jackson. This is an incredibly detailed image looking down at Buffy and Fray as they fight, plummeting to the street. The title of the book is drawn as an electric sign and looks fantastic. The pair might hit the flying car that Fray’s sister pilots, though at the moment she’s raised a gun to shoot the classic slayer in the back. The perspective is excellent and the colors are terrific. The Ultravariant cover is by Phil Noto and it’s sensational. Noto has been doing some incredible work of late on several covers at Marvel for Star Wars books, so it’s great to see him back on the Slayer’s exploits. This has Buffy and Fray back to back, beneath them is Gunther swimming, his tail is so long it can be seen behind both vampire hunters, and in the bottom right is Willow who’s casting a spell. The characters look great and the pastel colors are really cool. The layout is also tops, with the circles and outlines giving this a very classical feel. Overall grade: Regular A, Variant A+, and Ultravariant A+

The story: This issue is again crafted by Joss Whedon and Christos Gage with Gage scripting it. Picking up from last issue, Buffy and the Scoobies have gone to the 23rd century where they’re instantly encountered by Fray and warned to go back to their own time. Buffy, holding her scythe, opens a hand to show they mean no harm, but this triggers Fray’s sis who fires at them. The gang is okay, but Buffy leaps at Fray and the two go spiraling downward, exchanging words and blows. When Buffy mentions Harth Fray ends the fight, running back to make sure her sister hasn’t tried to take out Buffy’s friends. The dialogue in the second panel on Page 5 is funny, as is Giles’s dialogue in the panel that follows it. The gang learns what happens to their future selves in this issue thanks to the return of an infamous Buffy and Angel supporting character who’s hilarious. The dialogue in the middle panel on 9 had me laugh out loud, especially with that last bit. Page 13 has a really sad final panel that moved me. This is a heavy exposition issue with the heroes learning information and then making a plan to go back and take out Harth and the creatures from Wolfram & Hart. There’s the occasion fun line to break up all the information, but otherwise this is fairly formulaic storytelling. The villains do get the final page of the book, with a terrific closing line from the Mayor. I liked this, but didn’t love this. Overall grade: B-

The art: Georges Jeanty is responsible for the book’s pencils and Karl Story provides the inks. I’m a fan of both artists and the first three pages show that they are excellent at showing action. The last two panels on the opening page are very fluid with what’s shown, capturing much: characters in motion, guns firing, smoke swirling, and the two Slayers beginning their fight. I like how the lack of a background in the bottom panel allows the reader to focus exclusively on the fighters and show that one of them has been disarmed. The first panel on the second page is a top to bottom vertical panel that shows the peril the pair are in. The final two panels on the page are one image split to allow the reader to focus on each character in that moment. The stop that begins Page 3 is a move fans have seen before and the kick and its reaction that follows is great. The first panel atop the fourth page is a good reaction to the information just received. The second panel is a solid way to show the destruction left in the pair’s wake. I’ve heard artists say one of the worst things to illustrate are libraries and Jeanty and Story do that in this issue and it gives credibility to where the gang goes. The characters resemble the actors well enough from the series to be easily identifiable, with the character that appears on 9 causing me to instantly laugh at the visual before the individual is named: that’s the sign of a good artist — the reader can identify the character without the text informing him or her. The reactions in that second panel on the same page are outstanding. The design of the chair where this new character sits is superb. The five pages that show flashbacks of what happened to each Scooby are great: I could tell what happened to each before I read the text. The six pages that follow could have been talking heads, but the point of view is moved around expertly to make the visual reading entertaining. The final page that shows the villains is a good tease of the showdown that’s soon to come. Overall grade: A

The colors: One of the problems with future dystopias is the lack of colors. That’s not an issue with Dan Jackson who uses some wonderfully bright colors to make the art riveting. The first page has Fray dressed in reds to make her a focus and Buffy in a bright blue jacket to make her an eye catcher. The discharges from the weapons in the third panel are powerful. The lack of colors for a background in the final panel allow a lost weapon to stand out. And take a look at the scene setting that starts the page: white lettering on a red background makes it strong. As the two fighters spar, lights around and near them are given a believable glow thanks to the colors. The conflicts shown in the flashback use a considerable amount of oranges and yellows to give the art a fiery flourish. Notice how after the conflict has been resolved the colors go gray, brown, and rust, showing age for the passage of time. Overall grade: A

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, yells, sounds, the story’s title, tombstone text, and the final three words that tease there’s more to come. I really like the stark scene setting which instantly alert the reader as to where the story has taken them. The sounds are few but fun, with the opening ZRAKABOOM great. The dialogue is easy to read and the yell of joy that tops Page 9 is my favorite text of the book. Overall grade: A

The final line: The story is enjoyable, but serves only to set up characters for the next issue. The visuals are solid, thankfully, with the characters looking like the actors that play them on television and the colors are bright. This was an enjoyable issue, but not a great one. Overall grade: A-

To order a print copy go to https://www.tfaw.com/Comics/Profile/Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer-Season-Twelve—The-Reckoning-2___571038?utm_source=darkhorse&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=darkhorse_buy&utm_term=buy+Buffy+the+Vampire+Slayer+Season+12%3A+The+Reckoning+%232

To order a digital copy go to https://digital.darkhorse.com/books/869f688128fb4436bdf434b15beb2ce1/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-season-12-the-reckoning-2

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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