In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 12 #3

Final farewells before the final battle leads to the final issue of Buffy Summers's saga.

The covers: A trio to find as fans near the end of this saga. The Regular cover is by Stephanie Hans and the coloring is really hurting this. Faith is stabbing a demon through the eye with a sword, Spike has just kicked a creature, and Buffy pulls back her scythe to fell a foe, while in the foreground Harth in vampire form rages. There’s too much yellow and white on this, with the other colors just too light. Nothing looks finished. The credits are in the bottom right, leaving a lot of empty space at the top. This just isn’t working. The Variant is by Georges Jeanty and Karl Story with Dan Jackson. This was the cover I picked up. A menagerie of demons are attacking Fray, Willow, and Buffy. The characters look fierce with Willow casting a fire spell, Fray has just spiked a vamp, and Buffy has just slit a monster’s throat, it’s blood trail in violet easy to follow. Outstanding image and outstanding color. The Ultravariant by Scott Fischer is also a battle scene, but Angel has the focus on this frontpiece. In the upper right corner Buffy is battling a winged demon. Just below her is Angel wielding a broken sword as he’s been throttled by a thin violet humanoid. Three of this creature’s brethren are racing to assist it in killing the vampire. Below and behind Angel and his foes is a giant demon that has massive horns. It’s battling Illyria who is just barely visible above the credits that are in the cover’s dead center bottom. I would like this more as a print than a cover, because it is a bit difficult to find a focus. Overall grades: Regular C-, Variant A+, and Ultravariant B

The story: This is the penultimate installment to Joss Whedon ending Buffy. Also writing out this final chapter is Christos Gage whose four colored adventures for Buffy comics have been fantastic. Andrew Wells makes the scene at Willow’s empowerment center bringing them some tech the protagonists hope will make them victorious in the final battle against Harth. Parked in front of the building is Andrew’s van which serves as a “sanctum sanctorum” for Giles during the battle to keep in touch with all the fighters. The reformed bad is happy to accompany Buffy and her friends in this battle, but Buffy says, “We’ve talked about it, and we’d prefer if you left.” Giles tells him that he needs to survive this fight to rebuild the Watcher’s Council if he doesn’t survive. Moved to tears, Andrew responds, “I…I don’t know what to say. I won’t let you down. You have my solemn word.” It’s at this point that Andrew remembers he has some information about two other Buffy allies and it’s not good. The transition on Page 4 between two locations is really smooth with a phrase repeated, though in a very different way. The conversation that ends this page is sweet. The farewells continue, with a pair on 5 making plans, one character’s future hangs over her on 6, and a couple have their last hug on 7. Whedon and Gage have everyone get a moment before the battle begins on 8. It begins and it is epic. Naturally there’s dialogue between the combatants, with Fray confronting evil brother Harth, hoping he can be changed. After both sides suffer heavy loses, a decision is made, a terrific speech is given, and then it all goes to hell. This issue has a great cliffhanger that will leave fans wondering for a month how this could possibly end. This issue hits all the right feels before the fight. Overall grade: A+

The art: Willow’s Empowerment Center is a large structure that’s introduced in the first panel from a distance and then some of its rooms are shown in the pages that follow. Andrew’s entrance is great, looking like Mr. GQ and this is followed by a funny visual that ends the first page, showing how desperate the heroes are for weapons. There is a very funny visual two panel sequence at the top of Page 3 involving a specific object. Andrew’s reaction to Giles’s request that he stay out of the fight to restart the Watcher’s is terrific. The setting shown on 4 is appropriate and adds to a verbal quip from one of the characters present. The last two panels on the page begin the rush of feels as characters make peace and confirm relationships with one another. The smile that ends 6 had me as hungry as that character for the fight to start. It’s Page 7’s visuals that will hit the fans the hardest: 1, for the characters involved, 2, the looks they give one another, and 3, the contact between the pair. Harth’s entrance into the story occurs on 8, riding the mayor. Funny and cool. Page 9 is where Georges Jeanty kicks into overdrive with his pencils because it’s a full-paged splash of the sides engaging. It looks great. Two characters get the focus on 10 with one trying to keep it together while another cuts loose. There’s another smile that closes out Page 12 and it cements a relationship that’s been between the pair for years. 16 has three horizontal panels without text that show the horror of the battle and it leads to a character making a decision. The last panel on 20 has a great panel that would have been a terrific image to end this series — this franchise — on, but there’s a lot more to go! The last two pages have the antagonist doing something that’s been eating up the Internet and this is the first time he’s been shown doing something really massive. The last panel of the book is an excellent visual cliffhanger as it mirrors the reader’s face. There are three inkers credited to this issue, Karl Story, Andy Owens, and Dexter Vines. It’s not stated who is responsible for which pages, I wish there had been, but I’m liking what I’m seeing throughout this issue. Overall grade: A

The colors: One of the big pluses of this book’s visuals are the colors. Many of the locations are very dark, but colorist Dan Jackson keeps things bright with believable colors, never dipping into cliché comic book colors. The impending night sky is given a cool violet to start the issue with a supernatural flair. However, take note that colors set off the scene settings in a hard red to alert readers to the change in locales. There are several big eye panels to increase the emotion and Jackson colors the characters’ eyes in light shades to intensify the moments. I like that Faith has got a bright red top to emphasize her fiery nature. The close-up of the characters on 7 has great work with characters’ skin and hair, as well as strong work with their clothes. The full-paged splash on 9 is strong for fire’s colors and the character on the far right. Orange is used often during the battle to make them increase the violent visuals. Overall grade: A

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt create this issue’s scene settings, yells, dialogue, transmissions, vampire dialogue, and the three word tease for the final issue. There’s a lot of yelling in this issue, for obvious reasons, and it resounds off the pages. The transmissions occur often since characters have to keep in touch with one another. The vampire dialogue, again, as always, looks terrific. I would have loved to have seen some sounds or inhuman screams during the battle, but that’s not this pairs’ decision to include. Overall grade: A

The final line: Final farewells before the final battle leads to the final issue of Buffy Summers’s saga. The drama is heavy as every character gets a moment. They are all great. The conflict is entertaining, punctuated by several interesting conversations. The visuals are strong, especially when the battle gets going. This is one to keep fans in suspense until the final curtain call. Overall grade: A

To order a print copy go to https://www.tfaw.com/Comics/Profile/Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer-Season-Twelve—The-Reckoning-3___575581?utm_source=darkhorse&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=darkhorse_buy&utm_term=buy+Buffy+the+Vampire+Slayer+Season+12%3A+The+Reckoning+%233

To order a digital copy go to https://digital.darkhorse.com/books/c88b71bcf99140b39d880235d1eaa0f6/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-season-12-the-reckoning-3

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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