Previously in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 11, Buffy and Willow had been stripped of their magical powers after being released from an internment camp that the government set up for magical beings after the supernatural attack that destroyed San Francisco. Now, we see them trying to get those powers back in “The Great Escape.” If you couldn’t tell from that complicated introduction, this is not the greatest stand alone issue as this mainly contains a built-up-to battle and a new direction for the next issue. The comics have consistently been bloodier than the show they stemmed from, but the action in this issue feels brutal. If you are a fan who has been waiting to see Buffy really unleash, then this is the issue for you.
The artwork in this issue is glorious. Georges Jeanty’s fight scenes have both long open panels along with smaller panels that punctuate the hits being taken and given out. As a result, each hit really lands as the reader is not allowed to gloss over them. It also provides a sense of chaos which is replicated in the storyline. It is also worth noting that, despite the fact that this is mainly a comic about vampires and the women who slay them, I don’t think I have ever seen so much blood splatter in any of its issues. There is a real fervor there that I quite enjoyed. The only critique I have is that the characters sometimes look younger than they should and this is particularly obvious with Dawn in the opening sequence. If we are to buy that she is in an adult relationship with Xander, she should at least look like an adult. The lettering that Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt are a key part of the action as well as they are quite effective at providing a sense of weight and impact. Each noise from a magical effect or physical impact in the fight is completely unique and they had a lot of them to do in this issue.
Christos Gage’s writing felt very in line with what long time fans would expect and this is both a good thing and a not as great thing. Basically, this issue covers many topics that Buffy consistently deals with. Instead of the Watcher’s Council as the authority that should be questioned, it is now the US government. We also have the classic case of the scoobies making alliances with vampires because they share a common enemy. While it doesn’t exactly cover any new ground, this repetition of established themes feels like it is a return to the show’s roots and this is true of the overall season’s storyline as well. The Buffyverse has always been about exploring the horrors of life through metaphors and there are plenty of scary things out there right now to play with. While the rest of the repetition is only acceptable, one thing that Gage nails is the way in which Buffy and Willow get to explore their identities as both disempowered and empowered women. While the theme is not new, we finally have a moment where, instead of having an inferiority complex about her superiority complex, Buffy finally fully embraces herself as an empowered slayer. This was a palatable step towards cookiedom.
This probably won’t bring in any new readers, but there are plenty of nuances to enjoy for those who are already fans of the series. In many ways, the issue promises a return to where it all started. Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics have not always lived up to the legacy of the show, but this issue provides a lot to be hopeful about. 4.5 Stars!
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciller: Georges Jeanty
Inker: Dexter Vines
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Cover Artist: Steve Morris