Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review: Buffy #30, “Retreat, Part 5”

Yes, I know this issue came out two weeks ago, but I was busy doing other stuff and didn’t get to the comic shop until recently. That said, I think this is a solid wrap-up to the “Retreat” storyline, while leading into the next arc that will begin to wrap up Season 8.

COVER TWO
Adam Hughes handles duties on the main cover, putting Buffy front and center in the middle of a snowstorm. Hughes portrays Buffy with a stake, which is an iconic image, but doesn’t fit with the issue. George Jeanty’s alternate cover shows the group in glass, being shattered by the emergence of the Tibetan Goddesses. Sure, the metaphor may be a little strong, but it works.

THE WRITE STUFF
For the most part, this issue wrapped up the “Retreat” storyline. The group realized they weren’t getting their powers back, and Buffy struck out on her own -- it almost felt like the
end of Season 6, with a “what’s next” feeling (or “where do we go from here”, if you want to get musical with it), rather than a neat wrap-up like Season 3 or Season 4.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the Riley reveal, but it makes sense, and was handled well. Given what we’d seen of the character in Season 4, the fact that he was working for Buffy as a double agent made total sense.

THE ART STUFF
These last few issues have probably been among the most challenging for Georges Jeanty, given the amount of action that’s happening in each panel. He’s been up to the task so far. I loved how he did the two-page spread with Buffy waking up five hours later, showing her reactions in inset panels laid over the main image of the battlefield.

Also, the final splash page was fantastic (and I actually like the whole “Buffy flying” thing, because it’s something that couldn’t have been done on the show) and the added touch of color when Buffy fell into the Goddess’s hand gives a contextual clue as to how Buffy got her powers back.

WHO IS TWILIGHT
Still no Twilight reveal, but there was an interesting piece of dialogue that changed my opinion on who he may be. During the battle, when it was pointed out to him (and I keep saying him, because it’d be a real cop-out if this male-sized and shaped person whose voice we can’t hear turnout out to be female) that most of their soldiers were getting killed, Twilight responded, “They’re mortal. They have to die sometime.” I know this is weird, but the WAY he said it (again, though we can’t actually hear it, in a comic book) seemed to signal that whoever is under that Twilight mask isn’t mortal. So, barring any kind of huge twist, that would rule out both Graham and Pike.

GRADING “RETREAT”
Now that the “Retreat” arc is done, it’s time for me to give it an overall score. I ended up liking this arc a lot more than I thought I would. The de-powering of the Slayer army was necessary, and allows the book to get back to the core focus of Buffy and her small group of “slayerettes”, rather than this grand story that’s dominated Season 8. The individual books of the arc had their uneven moments, but taking the 5-part series as a whole gives it better context. Grade: 4 out of a possible 5.

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