This is a very plot-heavy issue. Everything going on in it is centered on the fallout from the events of the season premiere. You can definitely see that this is going to be a shorter season because the events that play out in this issue would definitely have been covered over three or four issues in a previous comic book season. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.
Everything going on in this issue is about ramping up the intensity and raising the stakes. Yes, some fans may groan because everything in it feels very familiar. There’s a heavy element of Marvel’s Civil War to what’s going on here, in that the government is forcing the registration of all magical entities living in the United States. It also reeks of the Mutant Registration Act that the X-Men are constantly being threatened with. These are not new ideas, I’ll admit. But I don’t think that means they’re not valid ideas.
Writer Christos Gage has not been shy about saying that season eleven would be addressing/directly influenced by the current political climate, which is one of severe civil unrest. I think that’s something that should be touched on by our comics and I think Buffy is a great comic to do it because it has always been about addressing those larger, real-world themes.
There’s also the fact that the whole world surrounding Buffy has completely changed over the course of the previous comic book seasons and almost all of that change has played out in the background. Yes, the new breed of vampires and issues that affect Buffy directly get dealt with all the time, but the fact that the entire world now knows about vampires and monsters is something that’s barely ever touched upon.
I think it is a great idea to finally take time to address it. I think the fact that so much hasn’t been dealt with only makes the overall plot of this season more logical. It’s an easier sell because Buffy and the gang simply assumed that the world would be welcoming toward magically inclined folks, which is never the way things seem to work on Buffy.
The thing that’s really interesting that I think separates it from similar storylines like X-Men is that in Buffy’s case the world actually tried to be tolerant. Most people were trying to be tolerant of these beings they were previously unaware of, trying to say the right thing, and then something happens that leaves people shattered and scared and they start looking for something to blame. I think it greatly addresses our recent radical political shift.
One of the things I appreciate most about the issue is that as big as it gets, it still feels like Buffy. This is big, world-changing stuff and none of it feels out of place. If anything, the issue feels like a large-scale version of the episode “Gingerbread.” As much as I enjoyed the character arcs in season 10, the stakes were relatively low. I think it was time for Buffy to try going big again, and I think this was the way to do it.
WICKED RATING: 8/10