At the end of the previous issue, Buffy, Spike and Willow were sent away to an internment camp (fittingly called The Safe Zone) for all unregistered magical people in one of the most timely and least subtle moves this series has ever pulled.
This issue is a great exploration of that place and how it operates. It’s not as depressing as I expected, and was nervous about at the beginning. This isn’t the Buffy version of Schindler’s List. Instead, there’s kind of a John Carpenter feel to it.
It’s still relevant, but the fact that a place like this shouldn’t exist doesn’t need to be beaten into the reader’s over and over again. It was refreshing to see the comic take the focus of trying to survive in this chaotic environment rather than focusing on the bureaucracy of it—which is something we’ll no doubt get to in good time.
The major focus of the issue is on Buffy and Spike’s relationship and the strain the new environment places on them. Thankfully, it’s a very practical strain. It doesn’t cause a fight between them, nor are they succumbing to their own insecurities for no clearly defined reason.
The strain instead comes from outside, from the fact that Buffy has to occasionally let Spike drink directly from her in order to ensure he makes it through the period between the small blood rations given out to vampires every couple of days.
Willow, meanwhile, has to deal with being a leader to the Wiccans who are in some ways the most defenseless group within the camp because they’re still human and that places a target on them. This is a focus for Willow this time around that makes sense for her character, especially given her walkabout during season nine.
Even the stuff unfolding in the background of this comic can be really interesting. It shows a nice attention to detail in both story and art. The demons crying out for revolution cause trouble for Buffy and her friends, but their position is exactly what Buffy would have been doing had this happened over the course of the show’s run.
It’s not even far off from what she did do in the season three episode “Anne.” This also shows the maturity of her character, as Buffy is now keeping her head down until she can figure out some kind of actual plan.
The main highlight of the issue is the return of Georges Jeanty. From the beginning of season eight, he was the main artist on the title all the way through to the end of season nine.
Even now, as terrific as Rebekah Isaac’s art is, he’s the artist I keep returning to, when I think about Buffy as a comic book. It’s great to see him return, especially for an issue that’s such a change-up of the main status quo. Here’s hoping he can make a few more guest artist contributions in the future.
Overall, though, this issue is incredibly strong. The character work is terrific. Christos Gage and the rest of the creative team are wasting no time getting into the meat of the story, but aren’t losing their focus on the themes or the relationships along the way.
That’s all I’ve ever asked for from Buffy and it’s amazing to see it still being executed so effortlessly here.
WICKED RATING: 8/10