Newly published by Boom! Studios, the library edition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 12 collects BtVS: Season 12 #1-4 and Giles: Girl Blue #1-4 in hardcover. Previously published by Dark Horse, the book features the writing talent of Christos Gage, Erika Alexander, and Kel MacDonald. Illustration, pencils, and inks contributions by Jonathan Lam, Georges Geanty and Karl Story, and Yishan Lee. Further, color talent by Dan Jackson, Rod Espinosa, and Tony Galvin. And finally, lettering contributions came from Richard Starking, Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt, and Steve Dutro. Such diverse talent makes for a dynamic reading experience.
Included in Season 12‘s blurb, the YouTube reviewer Geeked Out Nation is quoted describing the book as “the perfect love letter to fans and this series.” You will find yourself agreeing with Geeked Out Nation’s assessment.
First and foremost of the Season 12 stories is Giles’ spin-off entitled “Girl Blue.” Written by Erika Alexander across four issues, it’s the story of Giles magically going undercover as a teenager at a Compton high school. Through many whirlwind plot twists and cinematic storytelling, we come to love a new side of Giles as he falls in love with a mysterious student at the school.
This series is the longest of the three revolving around the mystery of missing teachers and students getting progressively dumber. With the help of an unlikely ally, Roux, Giles can defeat a corporate and demonic evil.
Through screenplay-like use of slugline captions and extended flashbacks, what is essentially a conventional Buffyverse anti-capitalist demon-of-the-week story gets elevated to a character study of someone new. For Giles, in the body of a teenager, allying himself with Roux ended up changing him. Indeed, some have argued that Giles’ attitude in Girl Blue is out of character. But, freeing oneself of that judgment, you can appreciate the arc as another example of the themes fans love in the Buffyverse. Themes of friendship, anti-prejudice, and holding fast to convictions.
In the second series, “The Reckoning,” our favorites from Buffy and Angel team up to prevent Hell on Earth using time travel. It has all the style of Infinity War with the heart of Buffy. Sacrifices have to be made, but no hero dies. In a twist of all twists, Buffy doesn’t have to go to Hell again. It’s a story about legacy and the consequences of changing the future. Buffy and the gang are full adults now. There’s no turning back, only forging ahead.
With that in mind, the final single-issue stands as a perfect ending. Xander and Buffy visit a comic book shop. While there, Xander leaves Buffy to browse and maybe find the book that’ll turn her onto comics. Xander then discovers the cashier being strangled by a disgruntled vampire customer. Buffy saves the day, of course, but a young girl witnessed the entire thing. The girl turns to her mother while they’re checking out and says, “Mom, why didn’t you tell me superheroes were real?” Her innocent question warms the heart and sounds like a valentine to the fans because, in Buffy, we have the nearest thing to a real superhero.
A La Mode
Beyond the lovely storytelling, each series has its own artistic style and motifs. In Girl Blue, the characters are drawn in an expressive yet semi-cartoonish manner. The letterer had fun creating SFX as a method of foreshadowing, while the artist often used background elements to tell the story. These motifs make for a dynamic and layered comic.
The Reckoning’s artistic style being like DC with its clean lines, warm coloring, and crowded panels. The styling fits the grand themes of legacy and martyrdom. In other words, the art makes the book feel big.
Furthermore, the final story is drawn in an imitation of anime as befits the reference to Sailor Moon and light-hearted nature of this one-shot.
As a whole, thematic artistry and a sense of final catharsis make Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 12, a satisfying read for fans old and new, whether it be your transition into the Boom! Studios reboot or your ending with the Buffyverse, the library edition is worth picking up for any Buffy lover.