There Is No Magic Cure: Reviewing ‘The Vampire Slayer’ #11

by Scott Redmond


‘The Vampire Slayer’ #11 reaches a huge turning point for this semi-reboot universe as various characters are at odds, the fallout of their choices coming home to threaten them as well as the universe. There is just such a powerful emotional energy that permeates every fiber of this series, taking known a world of known characters and taking them to places they’ve never gone before and giving them the depth that they deserve.


Life is a series of choices that are often categorized as being good or bad depending on the circumstances or outcome. One is often driven or encouraged through self or communal reasons to try and only make “good” or “right” choices, for the benefit of oneself or generally for others. But as Faith the vampire slayer reminds us, making the so-called “good” choice is never remotely easy.

Okay first of all we’re getting a Faith narrated issue of The Vampire Slayer here and I’m all about it. Faith is such an interesting character and we’ve gotten to see a different side of her with this sort of reboot universe because she’s not only new to the Scooby crew but there is no Mayor to influence her and instead of being the wild rebel in a way she’s the senior/only slayer (as she reminds Willow) on hand. It has shades of what we saw with Faith stepping up to help in the fourth season of Angel and then in the seventh season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer as she helped to train the potential slayers.

What Sarah Gailey continues to do with this series is tremendously exciting and well-crafted, giving us such a deep spotlight on these characters and their world. Not only that but the underlying messages about trauma and people’s choices are very important. Giles and the others had the best of intentions in mind when they tried to magically help Buffy but instead, their meddling not only stripped her of her sense of being, memories, and everything else they ended up taking the trauma they wanted to save her and paying it back to Willow a couple of hundred times over.

It’s not one of those “oh we need the pain of life to define us” or such messages/stories though. No, Gailey takes it in a much more relevant and important way. Basically, the gist of it is that trauma and pain are not something that can be waved away easily in some sort of magic way. Wanting to help those we care about deal with the weight on their shoulder, both real and proverbial, is not a bad thing but the ways that we go about it are important. There is no way to just fix our loved ones or ourselves when we’re dealing with complex issues. Losing who and what we are in the process doesn’t really help or save us in the long run because it causes other issues as we no longer have that purpose or drive or whatever it was that made us who we are as a person.

Had Buffy been able to make the choice to remove her pain or to walk away from the pain that being a slayer brings it would be one thing, but Giles and the others took away her choice and agency. This is not something that can just be brushed past, and we see that here as Gailey spends a good bit of time after Buffy finds out, having her confront the group and make her feelings clear. There is no easy fix to this sort of ‘betrayal’ or good intentions gone awry either. Giles was meant to teach and protect her, and he betrayed that trust because of his own fears and worries and because he actually does care about Buffy and that cannot and will not be a relationship that bounces back so easily.

After a very magical and metaphysical style issue focused on Willow, this one is very much an ensemble piece with lots of emotional weight and conversations. Hannah Templer switches gears seamlessly and continues to bring really tangible energy to the page while nailing the emotional weight that needs to be just hovering around every single page. There is great detail on the spaces and the people that make up those spaces as we move through the issue, their facial expressions/body language looking us right in the eye and firmly telling us just how these characters are feeling at any given moment. Plenty of great closeups and panel choices frame the characters and their moments in a way that helps to showcase their feelings and how they are moving through the world as well.

As I noted there are so many really solid choices for paneling in this issue, and they do such a great job of really conveying a tone or mood. I love when artists go for a style with the panels that aren’t about capturing every single bit of setting or assembled characters into the ‘shot.’ A perfect example is Faith’s bloody eyes as she’s racing away from Willow (the fury in them just stares into our soul) or later when Buffy is dismissing Giles as he tries to stammer out an apology about what they did to her. It’s framed with Giles fully in the light in the background, but we have a shadowed upper portion of Buffy in the foreground where all we can see is half the lower portion of her face and torso with a hand up to dismiss his words as she faces away from him. Instantly we can feel the tension because she literally has her back to him, not wanting to hear what he says, this choice right away tells us all that without having to actually tell us anything.

I’ve spoken about the overall tone of the issue and how there is a heaviness to everything because these are heavy topics and there is dire energy with Willow turning ‘evil,’ and we see that reflected in and enhanced by the color choices of Valentina Pinto, with assistance from Riccardo Giardina. These colors are very toned down and more grounded in many ways, heavy with shadows and darker elements sprinkled around. Plenty of moments are very light as well, with flashes of more vivid colors, namely the overly greenish hue that comes on the pages with Willow as she engages in the powerful dark magics, she has tapped into as of late. Supernatural elements are given that greater variety of color and popped up a bit to make them separate from the more ‘normal’ coloring that is seen elsewhere, speaking to how Buffy’s world is our world but with a lot more colorful fantastical stuff running amok.

No issue is complete without lettering which brings so much to the page, especially when someone like Ed Dukeshire is the one bringing them to the page. There is emotion everywhere as we see it on the character’s faces and in their movements, but with a little bit of choice and flair, we’re able to hear it through the various captions and speech bubbles placed so smoothly into every panel and page. Faith is a type of character that is short on words, blunt, and to the point more often than not, and we see that through her captions as the voice is just so clear. Her dialogue is more verbose because she’s trying to make points and connect to characters, with the captions providing commentary and a counterpoint/reality of who she is. Dukeshire places these all in the most perfect ways so that they not only compliment the artwork and at times help guide us through the page, but pair them up in a way so that the counterpoint/reality sort of aspect I just mentioned is crystal clear and felt as we drop our eyes on them.

Any of these bubbles/caption boxes and other lettering could just be scattered/thrown upon the page and would do the job of alerting us to what the characters are saying/feeling. It would not be anywhere as effective, but it would be doing the bare minimum, which is not what Dukeshire or most other letterers do though. Instead, everything is placed so precisely so that it speaks so much to what the issue is trying to accomplish and becomes an effective partner to every other bit of creation rather than an afterthought. Letterers do so much, just like all of the creative team, and in such an artistic way that people say that you “don’t notice good lettering” but I think you really truly do because it adds so much to the voices and the story.

The Vampire Slayer #11 is now available from BOOM! Studios.

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