Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Megan Levens
Colourist: Dan Jackson
Release Date: 17/02/16
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
QUICK REVIEW HAIKU
It comes together
Art plays up the lack of trust
On edge the whole time
Reading this arc in one sitting has highlighted the intensity and consistency of the dissipation of the team and their trust in one another. Each issue has focused on separate characters and shown in a very organic way, how exactly the strength of their relationship has failed. Bringing all of this together in this penultimate chapter, Gage paints the picture of a group that sticks together through habit and necessity instead of a desire to actually grow together. Working with series regular Megan Levens, these characters look uncomfortable in their own lives and creates anticipation for a potentially bleak future.
Levens’s art has felt very classically cartoony in her previous appearances, which has helped to lessen the weight of otherwise dark scenes. However, with the morose cloud that hangs over this entire issue, the art works fantastically to exaggerate the emotions of these characters and play up how out-of-touch they feel with each other. When the cast finally gathers together in one place, in a way that should feel so familiar, their body language alone shows how much they no longer enjoy each other’s company. The little “chinks” have finally spread to form a crack in these relationships and that’s portrayed so well in the art.
During the confrontation, not only do the looks of concern and uncertainty carry over, you can feel the conhesiveness across the entire art team. From the team’s entrance into the boss cave, the colours from Dan Jackson bathe the scene in bleak browns, greys and greens, heightening the “anticipation” of failure. Across a page turn, the colours suddenly flare up into a bright orange that push the reader to feel the same feeling of surprise that the characters themselves experience. The way that the villains of the piece feel so prominent in each panel, from both a colour and detail perspective, ensure that you know that something bad is about to happen.
Gage has created these antagonists that, although they initially seemed like one-off villains, have worked for so long behind the scenes that their weight has compounded to make them feel like formidable villains. As the Scoobies pair off against their corresponding opponents, you’re following everyone across the battlefield to ensure that nothing bad happens to them. Combining the grandiose exclamations of the Soul Glutton with the belittling jabs from the Mistress give a broad onslaught of abuse that the team simply don’t seem to be able to combat.
Consistently, there’s been the feeling that each member of this team matters. By giving each member their moment in the spotlight, Gage has set up a dynamic where you expect them all to work together, so this growth across the season is significantly highlighted in restrospect. Comparing their attitudes from the very beginning of his tenure of the book, it’s extraordinarily easy to see the changes and amount of work that’s been put in to prevent the status quo from feeling stale and worn-out. Assuming that a new writer is brought on for the next season, they’re going to have some enormous shoes to fill.
Culminating an arc full of excitement mixed with personal strife, as the Buffy universe does at its peak, all of the small moments have deeply affected what this team is capable of. By cutting to the core of each personal dynamic, Gage is playing with the hearts of the readers by ensuring that even your favourite combination of characters is spending time on the rocks. It honestly feels like this story could be taken in any direction as it heads into its climax, so I applaud the storytelling ability of the entire creative team as the Scoobies face one of their biggest challenges yet. Nobody feels safe and I’m absolutely loving everything about it.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10
|Written by Mark Dickson|