I cannot express how great it is to have Georges Jeanty back on Buffy, even if it’s for a single issue. This is not to take away anything from the work Rebekah Isaacs has done over the course of her already impressive tenure on the title. But Jeanty was the artist who launched this whole thing alongside Joss Whedon with Season Eight. He was the mainstay artist all the way through to the end of Season Nine. He was the artist I most identified with Buffy’s transition to comics.
While I’m not saying that something’s been missing, things did feel different in his absence. Having him back is like going home again. One issue with Jeanty and I’m completely revitalized and rejuvenated for whatever Rebekah Isaacs or any of the other possible fill-in artists have in store for the rest of the season.
As for the issue itself, it’s very strong. The central theme is Buffy’s assurance of her place as a force to be reckoned with and taken seriously inside the compound. At the same time, she’s trying to prove to her superiors that she is serious about doing her job and enforcing the rules of the Free Zone. She puts a stop to riots and attempts to stop escapes as well, all to impress the people she knows are watching her closely.
There’s a great moment, though, when Buffy sees how far the other guards are willing to go to keep the peace. Buffy has put a stop to things like riots and she’s done it with force and with appealing to the demons’ common sense. But when the others see a demon trying to escape, they shoot him without thinking twice. That’s the length they’re willing to go to. They know that Buffy’s not about that. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t some kind of test coming up, for them to see how far Buffy is willing to go to prove her loyalty and do her job.
I also enjoy how Willow-centric this issue is. Not that she’s been resigned to a background role—that did happen a bit in seasons nine and ten, but not so much here—but now we’re beginning to really see how Willow is dealing with the Free Zone and how she’s helping the Wiccans who have been affected by the outcry against magic.
It will be interesting to see how long the story will continue with Buffy, Willow and Spike living inside of the encampment. It could be resolved in the next issue, but that feels unlikely. There’s clearly more story to tell inside the prison-like Free Zone. While I wouldn’t expect it to last the whole season, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. So I’m looking forward to seeing where that storyline goes next.
WICKED RATING: 8/10