Season 11, Issue 09
“The Great Escape”
Writer: Christos Gage, Art: Georges Jeanty, Dexter Vines & Dan Jackson, Lettering: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft’s] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been saving the world from the forces of darkness since she was a teenager. Alongside her vampire boyfriend Spike; her best friends, Wiccan Willow Rosenberg and normal guy Xander Harris; her sister Dawn; and her formerly old but now magically reborn as a thirteen-year-old mentor Giles, Buffy has found nothing they can’t face together… until now.
After a supernatural attack decimated San Francisco, the government forced magical beings into an internment camp, including Buffy, Willow, and Spike. Buffy and Willow were released after their magic power was drained. With Faith’s help, they’re now trying to get it back.
Page 01: We open on Jordan and her Slayers confronting the attempted break-in by Buffy, Willow and Faith back into the internment camp, where the former two’s powers had been drained.
Faith tells Buffy and Wills that she’ll handle the nine slayers standing against them, which Jordan heckles.
Page 02: Faith tosses a smoke bomb, and shouts for Willow and Buffy to go. Jordan rallies her squad, but Faith cuts her off mid-sentence with a chop to her throat, before beginning to start kicking the juniors around.
Buffy and Willow hesitate, but Faith shouts at them to go, again.
Commentary: And Faith giving a karate chop to Jordan’s throat to shut her up has got to be one of the best panels in this issue. I’ve missed Faith over in Angel.
Page 03: Buffy and Wills makes a break for the room where the power drainer is located just outside of the camp. But Jordan has left two of her Slayer squad behind to guard that door.
Buffy engages without her super powers, but with her natural athleticism and experience, as she sends Willow to complete their primary mission.
Buffy takes a vicious Slayer-powered punch to the jaw, erupting her face in blood. The second guard Slayer, who had taken a boot to the nose from Buffy, goes in chase and warns Wills she’s authorized to use lethal force.
Commentary: I liked this short fight scene, both for showing that Buffy has all of her fighting skills, even as a normal person now, and that this doesn’t make her Wonder Woman. The Slayers natural skills, along with their agility and punching power is more than enough to compensate for even a gifted normal fighter’s abilities once the initial attack is absorbed.
I also gotta respect Jordan leaving behind a few Slayers, on the off chance that Buffy and/or Willow somehow got by her primary defense… a grudgingly as I’m giving it….
Page 04: Meanwhile, Faith is bloodied from her multi-Slayer fight, but still standing. Buffy is still holding her own against the Slayer on her, by using some dirty tactics like eye-poking.
Willow makes it to the draining crystal, but the pursuing Slayer is on her tail and punches a hole through the locked door between Wills and defeat.
Page 05: It only takes moments for pursuer to bust down the door to the draining crystal, but Willow has been able to power up the machine….
In the meantime, both Faith and Buffy lose their hand-to-hand fights against the Slayer squads, with both bloodied and on the ground. Faith, especially, is being savagely beaten by multiple assailants.
Commentary: This was a nicely done page as well, with blood covering Faith’s face from her nose and mouth, until it’s indicated she’s blacking out.
Page 06: With Buffy on the ground, the Slayer who defeated her is suddenly knocked to the floor by a flying door.
Willow levitates with power, telling Buffy she feels much better.
She returns Buffy’s Slayer energies to her.
Page 07: Buffy immediately goes back after Jordan, who tells Buffy she’s glad that she has her powers back, so it’ll mean something when she pounds her this time.
Willow takes on the other Slayers, knocking them down with a group ‘Incurso’ incantation [last scene when Giles used it on her in S6].
Buffy punches Jordan with her newly re-empowered fist to her face [which is also very satisfying… I think I’m in a blood-mood this morning… heh…].
Page 08: With Faith recovered enough to get back on her feet, and with Wills’ restored magic, the inexperienced Slayers are quickly put down on the mat.
Willow tries to zap Jordan, but Buffy tells her that she’s taking care of this one.
Page 09: Jordan, despite her bravado, falls to Buffy’s greater experience. Buffy picks her up over her head and body slams her into the ground.
Commentary: Yes, I did feel a loud ‘YAY!’ bubbling up. But I often feel that way when Buffy kicks the ass of a big mouth.
Page 10: Faith immediately turns the Slayer Scythe [which yes… I’m still irked - mildly - that no other Slayers seem interested in their weapon] back over to Buffy.
The latter asks the former if it’s wrong that she felt incomplete as a normal person, but Faith offers to her that she’s not a normal person, and there is nothing wrong with that. She also gives both Buffy and Willow props for the amount of butt kicking they did without their powers.
Wills, on the camp’s network, finds some answers as to who is responsible for everything but Faith reminds everyone that their recent win won’t mean anything when the soldiers with the guns and grenades show up to the ruckus.
Page 11: Wills uses her magic to cloak our trios exit from the facility, as the soldiers rush in.
Their next target is the mystic force field that is keeping the supernatural beings whose magic couldn’t be drained imprisoned.
Willow warns the spell she’s about to use to blast them an entrance through the reinforced wall is going to about tap her out, so it’ll be up to the Slayers to carry things through again.
Commentary: Also, very relieved that they’ve been taking a lot of steps this season to keep Willow from being the Deus ex Magica whenever needed. One of the issues I had had with this series from Season 8, Issue 1 was the amount of whisking around both Willow and Amy were doing with no effort or impacts to be seen. It felt like both of them were way overpowered, which forced contrivances to keep them from curbstomping everybody else.
They’ve been working to address that with The New Seed’s chaotic nature in S09, and the Magical Council limiting Willow’s potential affects in S10. I like Wills, but no team member should be able to do everything, or it starts to look silly when they don’t.
Page 12: Willow zaps the generator building real good, destroying the mystic field over the camp.
But she, Buffy and Faith are located by the soldiers, and have to surrender.
Page 13: So, it’s a good thing for them that the demons behind the barrier are quick to realize that the shield has been taken down. And they’re more than happy to help out their rescuers with a returned favor right about now.
Including Spike, who knocks out a soldier looking a little too trigger happy, with a rock to his helmeted head… the advantages of vampire strength.
Commentary: Although a cool moment, though, I feel compelled to wonder how Spike is this strong, when we’ve seen ample evidence that there hasn’t been enough food in the encampment… with an implication that was deliberate to keep the demons from working together. And it was specifically mentioned that blood was in short supply for the vampires.
I like Spike showing up here, but maybe a neck-chop to the offending gun wielder would’ve been more appropriate, along with a snarky question on if the hero squad happened to bring dinner with them.
Page 14: Spike and Buffy share a big movie-kiss, and Faith is surprised enough to ask Wills if that’s still a thing. Willow responds that they’re all pleasantly surprised as well.
The foursome grab a jeep to get outta dodge before the reinforcements show up, and the Slayers pull themselves together for a counter-strike.
Commentary: Heh. I almost wonder if Faith and Wills’ panel was meant as a meta-comment on how many times Spuffy was teased, only to go nowhere, and the fans’ general belief that they’re going to get screwed again on this pairing.
I love Faith when she can play off our other characters! Can I mention again, how much I miss her over in Angel.
Page 15: In Santa Fe, Xan and Dawn are waiting in an anonymous seedy motel. Our gang o’ Scoobies [excepting Giles] are reunited.
On the television, Press Secretary Wise is updating the press that the prison break has had horrible consequences, as they all feared… Buffy gives a horrified, little “no” at the screen….
Page 16: Joanna announces over footage of rows of dozens of body bags that the town of Dolan Springs, AZ was wiped out by the escaped vampires, leaving two thousand people dead.
Faith immediately suspects a false flag operation, but Spike isn’t so sure, due to the blood supply problems experienced in the encampment. On the screen, Buffy sees an image of the probable lead of this heinous attack -- that bitca, Vicki!
Buffy orders everyone to gear up: Before they take down this conspiracy against her and the other supernaturals, she’s going to clean house of Vicki and anyone following her.
Page 17: Our Gang manages to track down Vicki’s group to Austin, TX.
Spike shows up, in the guise of conferring with her on getting out of the country while they can, and asks what she thought she was doing by being so public with her butchery.
She’s not interested in talking to one of Buffy’s crew, or to a non-shape shifting vamp of the old stock.
Page 18: Which is fine, because Buffy and squad were there hiding out nearby, and Buffy isn’t one for long conversations with bad guys, anyway.
Vicki though, immediately suspected that Spike wasn’t there alone. She mobilizes her forces against Buffy, Faith and Willow.
Page 19: As everyone starts fisticuffs, one of Vicki’s crew declares that they didn’t attack Dolan Springs. Faith brings up the video of Vicki’s face out front and proud, but Vicki responds to Buffy that if she happened to notice on that incriminating video, any blood on her mouth… considering the supposed fill she should’ve had of blood.
Buffy stops fighting immediately, and admits that she in fact didn’t notice blood anywhere on the killing vampire.
Commentary: I’m of two minds about this, really. Yes, Vicki and crew are clearly being set up by the Big Bad to take the fall, and smear Buffy for the prison break. But, dammit, I hate Vicki the Vampire. I wanted her dusted! But OTH, I don’t want her dusted for the wrong reasoning, or as a response to being set up by somebody worse.
Darn it. But these are vampires… but they may be abiding by Harmony’s treaty by not actively hunting to kill… but numbers suggest they’re still making new vampires which cannot be good… but this was as set up, and we mustn’t reward the no-good-doers by taking her out on their behalf….
Page 20: Buffy asks to be convinced that Vicki is telling the truth, but she returns that she’d like to know why she should trust Buffy and other “warms” at all. Buffy fills her in on the whole “drain all supernatural beings of their magic” plan, and how beings like Vicki - without magic - would just be a dead body. And Buffy fills Vicki in on the plot to launch the magic drainer into orbit. If that happens, there won’t be any place for any of them to hide.
Vicki tells Buffy, Spike, Willow and Faith that while they were fleeing from the prison, they had been deliberately herded toward that “hick town”. When they were funneled there, the place reeked of magics, much like Willow, and everybody was already well dead.
Somebody out there was willing to kill two thousand innocent people just to make a statement, and keep the country riled up and angry/afraid of them all.
Page 21: Faith expresses disbelief that the government would go to these lengths, but Vicki responds with “Smallpox in blankets. Not a big leap”.
Buffy and Vicki reach a détente with Vicki agreeing to head east, and showing up on security cams just enough to keep federal law enforcement focused on trying to catch up with her group.
In the meantime, the Scooby Gang is headed westbound to find the source of the conspiracy and shut it down hard.
Commentary: I’m a big appreciator of continuity and character history, too, so I appreciated Buffy’s shout out to the General’s faction turning the U.S. Armed Forces against the Slayers in Season 8... And not mentioning any of the Twitlight part of it was a bonus.
Page 22: Spike asks Buffy just where they’re headed next, and Willow shares that she found information on a “Pandora Project”. And it’s near San Francisco where everything began….
The Good: I loved the entire great escape portion, but especially Faith’s chopping Jordan in the throat to shut her up, and Buffy’s punching her out - also to shut her up. Loved watching Buffy surprise the Slayers with her fighting skills, despite being brought down to normal but also her and Faith ultimately losing because they were still fighting Slayers and were outnumbered, and in Buffy’s case, outgunned.
I liked seeing Willow come through in a pinch, relying on her non-magic skills again.
Even though it was a setup, I do appreciate the implication that Buffy, et al weren’t maybe completely in the right, since they did break out a bunch of demons and vampires out of confinement, just to retrieve Spike. Vicki and company may not have committed an atrocity, but that doesn’t mean that all of those demons aren’t going to be looking for some serious payback that will blow onto innocent people due to the gang’s actions.
The Bad: Nothing gets placed here.
Other Thoughts: I’m really conflicted about Vicki continuing to be existent. And by extension, her crew as well. I’d rather she were dust… but I also want it to be for the right reasons, and that town’s slaughter isn’t it.
The Score: I really liked this issue. I do have some qualms about relying on an alliance with Vicki, and I didn’t find the powwow entirely convincing, mostly because the conflict was resolved a bit too quickly and neatly in order to move onto the main plot resolution. But, the first half to two-thirds were great. And anytime that we get a Buffy/Faith team up, I’m starting out in a happy place:
4.0 out of 5 stars