Where do I even start with this issue? There are so many things to unpack, things to address. I could avoid all of it if I just turned a blind eye and gave a bare bones review. Isn’t that what people want anyway? They want A-B-C happened and here is our score. Cut and dry. Simple.
There is nothing simple about this title. It started off as an outlet for fans of the television series to continue their love and support of the characters that they had come to know and love. It was a simple continuation of a Sci-Fi action series. Buffy fights monsters. You have your witty banter from the Scooby gang, a few plot twists, a couple of cameos from the old TV episodes and everyone goes home happy. That was the basis for this series right? I mean that’s what I read when I picked up season 8.
Now it’s season 11 and like most shows on TV that have run for this long it’s time to say goodbye and pull the plug. The Buffy universe needs a fresh start and it is painfully apparent in this latest installment. The book has moved so far from the source material that it no longer reflects the ideals and elements that made the TV show popular to begin with. This is quickly turning into a train wreck. Do fans really want to see their beloved characters in this storyline? Let’s break it down and you can decide.
The new season kicked off with a tsunami crippling San Francisco where Buffy and the gang now reside. This is all thanks to a storm God, the Shenlong Dragon, which we do not see in this issue.
Now that set up sounds like classic Buffy; she is at the center of a supernatural crisis that only she, and her supernatural companions, can take on. It sounds familiar, feels familiar. It should work right? Well … not exactly.
In this issue we are watching the gang deal with life after the tsunami. The city is in recovery mode. Displaced citizens are living in F.E.M.A. trailers. The magic and supernatural community have been outed on national television.
And here is where the series falls apart.
Remember all those fun and entertaining troupes that I just mentioned a minute ago? Take all of that and now stuff it into a storyline that wants to jam its politically motivated fist down your throat. Doesn’t that sound fun kids? Why waste time fighting vampires and monsters when we can read about how the government is going to round-up everyone and put them in internment camps. (I wish I was joking about this, sadly I’m not)
We have mentions of the industrial prison complex, the government violating civil rights, untrustworthy politicians, riots, mobs, looting, internment camps, and on and on and on.
I understand where Christos Gage is coming from. After watching the country get so mired down in the election and listening to the anxiety surrounding the incoming president; it’s easy to allow those themes to seep into your writing. But this is the wrong series, wrong time. The talk of politics is so thick in this issue that it spoils the story. Sure, we get a few panels of Willow witching out and there’s a monster that gets pelted by a mob … it’s all in service to a through line of how those that are different are going to be singled out and violated. Both involve a hate-filled mobs of racists.
It’s plain to see that Gage is trying to tap into the current undertones of our modern world. The plot of this comic is a thinly veiled commentary on the rising tension of race relations, anti-muslim mentality, and bigotry/racism. All valid points, but again it’s not the subject matter that you want to find in a freaking Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book. It’s like writing your anti-government manifesto on the back of a furniture outlet flyer. You may feel that you’ve said what you wanted to say, but in the end who is going to give a shit?
Again, I understand that there is a place for this kind of narrative in comics, but NOT THIS ONE. Buffy is not known for being a series that tackles tough political topics. It’s supposed to be fun. If Gage is itching to write social commentary so badly then he needs to take on a title that reflects those ideals and subject matter. The only thing that it accomplishes in Buffy is to pull off the magic trick of making the audiences disappear.
The art in this issue looks rushed and sloppy. The characters look clunky, chunky, and stiff. I’ve seen better work from Rebekah Isaacs. I’ve seen her do better artwork on Buffy. I don’t know what happened here but the art falls flat. Everyone is prone to off-issues, but when paired with the politically heavy plot that Gage is writing, the art could have been the saving grace to this issue. Instead it has reminded me that this comic has seen its better days.
I know that there is a very large fan base that still follows the adventures of Buffy via the comic, but sadly I will be the one to say it. Either it’s time to take this title out back and shoot it, or it’s time for a re-launch that puts the comic in closer alignment with the TV series. The book has gotten too far away from its roots and the current politically charged plot will only serve to drive away its remaining fans in droves.
This title has flat lined. It’s just a matter of time before Dark Horse pulls the plug.
Final Score: 1 Star
Story: Christos Gage
Art: Rebekah Isaacs
Colors: Dan Jackson
Letters: Richard Starkings
Publisher: Dark Horse