BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 11 vol. 1 promises a poignant and interesting story, while the beautiful art never loses its visual momentum.
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Touching and Politically Powerful
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BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is without a doubt my favorite franchise. Still, one can’t ignore that some of the television and comic book story arcs are iffy. Transitioning from the television conclusion of season seven into the comic book world of season eight was a little rocky. However, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 11 vol. 1 is here, and it wholeheartedly kicks ass.

This volume, written by Christos Gage, kicks off with Buffy feeling out of sorts. Buffy believes her feelings stem from her lack of life accomplishments. However, Dawn knows better — when things are quiet, Buffy gets antsy. Buffy’s relationship with Spike is going strong. She’s thriving as a consultant for the San Francisco Police Department. Her makeshift family is all together and content. It’s as normal as it gets for Buffy. Unfortunately, things get a little too interesting when a storm dragon descends upon the city, causing a flood and large-scale casualties.

Prominent Politics

With the loss of so many lives resulting from such a public display of supernatural forces, there’s a severe and immediate backlash against the supernatural community. Spike is the first to know that it’s coming, as he’s seen prejudice grow many times in his long life. The others try to hope for the best, but they get very little for their optimism.

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The United States government first implements a mandatory census. They claim to want to “legalize and normalize” supernaturals. Spike lashes out against the idea, and several members of the gang tease him and trivialize his concerns. Unfortunately, Spike’s worries come to a head when the census progresses to a “safe zone,” which is, for all intents and purposes, an internment camp for anyone with ties to magic.

It’s not merely the government decisions that make this a highly politicized volume, though. Civilians in the comic become violent and hateful against all members of the supernatural community. Even false rumors result in severe injuries. A mob beats a man into a coma simply for dressing up as a voodoo priest for work. Humans demand supernaturals go back to where they came, and even within the supernatural community, there’s a hierarchy.

Image from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 11 vol. 1, courtesy of Dark Horse Comics.

Wiccans, who are entirely human but have the ability to harness magic, are locked away in the camps. However, slayers (whose entire abilities result from magic) are exempt, even if they’re not working to keep order. The government dismisses supernaturals who have special needs as just wanting special treatment. Meanwhile, a secret government plan looms in the background which speaks trouble for those whose lives depend upon magic.

Ill-Timed Love Affairs

My favorite part of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 11 vol. 1 is Buffy and Spike’s strong relationship. Throughout the television show and the comic, the two of them are a notoriously on-again off-again couple. However, both of them have clearly matured in this comic. They’re working through their own personal issues and baggage, and they’re working through it together. For all that, neither of them are normal, but it seems like they finally have the normal, healthy relationship that our girl Buffy deserves.

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Unjust politics cause the country to go awry when Buffy and Spike reach the height of their happiness. Fortunately, they don’t let it completely derail them. Of course, it complicates matters. Of course, they can’t lose themselves in each other; there’s a war to fight, and it’s no longer just humans versus demons. However, besides growing as a couple, they’ve grown as individuals. Buffy sees now that shades of gray exist, and humans can be evil while demons can be good. Those who need protecting need protecting, no matter what they are. So, when Spike is sent to the “safe zone,” Buffy joins him despite her exemption. Still, for those romantics, Buffy makes it clear that, while it’s not the entire reason, a big part of her decision is so she can be with Spike.

In the safe zone, while the two of them try to keep the peace and suss out the government’s long-game, their relationship only grows stronger. The two of them draw strength from one another and make sacrifices and compromises for the other’s well-being. I’ll admit, their brief moments of happiness amidst a world falling apart has me swooning.

Image from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 11 vol. 1, courtesy of Dark Horse Comics.

Heavy Hitting Artwork

In BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 11 vol. 1, the artwork for issues #1-#3 and #6 was done by Rebekah Isaacs, while Georges Jeanty did the pencils and Dexter Vines did the inks for #4 and #5. Dan Jackson is the colorist. I love the blend of the likeness to the television actors with the unique stylization of a campy and gritty sort that so captures the soul of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

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I always love to see magic come to life on the page, and this comic certainly delivers a beautiful and dangerous flair. However, what really grabs me is the equal strength between the action and the emotional moments. The fight scenes make my heart pound in excitement, and I can feel the rush and danger of every kick or swing of the fist. However, when the fists drop and all the characters have are their words and their feelings, I can feel my heart melting or sinking down to the pit of my stomach with every emotional turn. Too many heavy emotional moments in comics can sometimes be redundant and bland to look at, but this is truly a comic that never loses its visual momentum.

Image from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 11 vol. 1, courtesy of Dark Horse Comics.

Final Thoughts on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 11 vol. 1

This volume is one of the most compelling story arcs I’ve ever gotten my nerdy little hands on.  I think the politics of the comic speak heavily to human nature and how aggression and oppression can spiral out of control when faced with something people can’t understand. I love the exploration of moral gray areas, and the great growth of character Buffy has undergone to come to this realization. The perseverance of Buffy and Spike’s passionate romance is a beautiful contrast to the struggle between doing what’s right and the cloud of fear.

Volume two of the comic won’t be released until February 20th of 2018, but I can’t wait to see what unfolds next in the story. As this volume provides the best Buffy storyline yet, good things are sure to come.

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