What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #12: Wolves at the Gate Part I (written by Drew Goddard)
Timing: BTVS, Season Eight. Short while after "A Beautiful Sunset."
REVIEW: Talk about hype. Comic shops were told to double their orders. People debated "What's going to happen in Issue 12?" online since before #10 came out. It's the first comic we get from one of the series vets (other than Whedon, of course). Damn. Talk. About. Hype.
Well, I'm obviously not going to spoil the big event here, but... Yeah. It's big. Something we'll be talking about for years? Probably not. But it's huge enough for the hype, methinks, and it's leads to even huger comedy. Yeah, it looks like "Wolves At the Gate" is going to be a comedy-centric episode, sort of like "Something Blue" and "Tabula Rasa." What I mean is, it doesn't compromise the integrity of the series like episodes similar to "Beer Bad" and "Doublemeat Palace" did, but it still focuses heavily on comedy. We've got Andrew. We've got Xander dealing with his whole "Dracula's Manservant" issue. We've got a sexually awkward situation. We've got some pretty funny stuff.
Most of this issue deals with the personal relationships between the residents of the castle, but there is also a lot of action at the end. While the issue didn't flow as well as #11 did, the transitions are quite a bit smoother than those of "The Long Way Home." I went in expecting something at the same level as the last two issues we've got, which was an error on my part. Everything can't be "A Beautiful Sunset" quality. What we've got here is a solid introduction to the arc with hilarious--and in-character--moments that all push forward all of the character arcs.
After the serious beatdown of #11, this is just what we needed to lighten the mood. And can I express how great it is to have vampires taken as a threat again? I felt that the show lost something in the latter seasons when vampires stopped being serious enemies and became more of a joke. Especially when that vampire wanted help getting out of his grave. C'mon now. THIS, these vampires from Issue #12, are just what we need to show that vamps are still vamps are still vamps.
Art: Ain't as good as usual. I'm missing Dave Stewart as colorist more than I expected. While Michele Madsen is competent and really makes the starry sky beautiful, I miss the quirky colors of Dave Stewart, which really give Season Eight a unique and consistent look. Also, Jeanty seemed to have pulled a switch. He used to be best at drawing NEW characters and iffy at drawing those who've appeared on screen. Well, this time he rocks Buffy and Xander (though he's struggling with Willow more than ever) but really messes up on one of the villains, the one who seems to be in charge. He's a male, Japanese vampire, and in some panels... his face only has a nose on his left. Now if this character was SUPPOSED to be missing half of his nose, awesome, but.... he's not. Not so good. But as far as drawing Buffy, Jeanty's never been better. I thought the female vampire was cool looking, and I also really liked his depiction of Dracula. For those who gasped at that spoiler, get real. You've seen him in two variant covers for this arc so far, we knew he was coming. But yeah, back to the art. This is our second issue without Jo Chen as cover artist, and Foster's cover is a huge improvement over his #11. Out of his covers for this arc that we've seen, it's literally his only passable one, so enjoy this while you can. However, Dark Horse chose to place the Buffy logo in the most inconvenient place, so it kinda ruins the image. Otherwise, it's one of my favorite covers. Oh, and about Buffy's clothes. Loving them. Her PJs rock,an I loved the little UC Sunnydale shirt she had later on. Much more awesome that the SuperSpy gear she's tended to wear this season.
Characters We Know: Xander, Buffy, Willow, Andrew, Dawn, Dracula
Season Eight Recurring Characters We Know: Renee, Satsu, Rowena, Leah
SPECULATION (highlight to read): Okay, so the surprise. Not what I expected. I hoped for Oz, but I didn't think even that could live up to the "talk about for years to come" thing. Well, I liked the surprise. Buffy sleeping with Satsu is cool, as long as he doesn't turn Buffy gay. Been there, Willow'd that. His interview, which I'll post later, pretty much implied that this wouldn't be a serious "Buffy Is No Longer Hetero" thang. It was a shock, it made for a great scene, and will probably make things very, very awkward between certain characters. But that's it. But as far as REAL speculation, I don't really have any. I'm thinking maybe these bad vamps were.... apprentices, students of Dracula? T'is all for now.