Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Reckoning collects all of season 12 – the very last season. It was written by series creator Joss Whedon.
The lives of Buffy and the Scoobies haven’t been too eventful for a while–at least as far as fighting demons and the forces of darkness are concerned. But that all changes when Angel brings news of an amassing a force that must be reckoned with: Wolfram & Hart, a legion of demons, and Harth, vampire from the future. Buffy knows Harth and his twin sister–the Slayer, Fray–from her meeting with them and Dark Willow in the future. But this army that has been gathered is more than she and her crew were expecting . . . Narrowly escaping an initial encounter, the gang travels to the future to recruit Fray and learn of their dismal fate should they fail to defeat this legion that has invaded the present. Harth is after the power of the Slayers, and being in possession of all their memories, he knows how to rewrite the outcome of this ultimate battle before it occurs. This is the reckoning . . . and it could be the end of Buffy, Fray, and all the Slayers, forever.
I was SO excited for this, and it let me down SO badly. I’m going to try to contain my rant, though, because otherwise, I’ll be at this all day.
I came to Buffy late. I was in grad school when I watched this series for the first time (maybe, 2013), and since then, I’ve been obsessed. When I finished the show, I learned that there was an ongoing comic book continuation, led by Whedon and other writers from the show. It felt like a special gift, just for me — It wasn’t over!
I’ll admit, the first season of the comics (season 8) was touch and go, but I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. Things smoothed out in season 9, and by season 10, with Christos Gage at the helm, everything in the Buffyverse was just as I wanted it. It had found its groove and its voice, and I was thrilled. So, what happened?
Industry Politics & Drama
I’m not sure exactly how this all went down, but I do know that Fox recently took back the Buffy rights from the comic’s publisher, Dark Horse. There’s speculation that season 12 would have been the series finale either way, but it seems this bit of industry drama sped things up. Whedon had this to say on the matter when interviewed by CBR:
“We made sure that the journey wasn’t continuing. We wanted to give the Dark Horse era some closure… I heard about all of this after the fact. It’s like Disney taking Star Wars over to Marvel. All of a sudden, we realize this is happening. So I’m writing this from a position that will leave everybody in a position where you feel some closure.” (Click here for full CBR article)
Give closure. Sounds good. Only, that’s NOT what he did.
Season 12 got 4 issues. I can’t stress how short that is… think of a four-episode final season of your favourite TV show. Now imagine it’s a show you had been following for 11 seasons! Season 11 had 12 issues, and previous seasons had up to 60 issues. So, 4 was kind of a joke, and it showed.
It was incredibly rushed and the storylines and the character arcs that readers had been invested in were simply not given the closure they deserved. Whedon came back as the writer and essentially shrugged off everything Gage had built (especially the Buffy and Spike arc), in favour of a few lazy callbacks to the TV show. Trying to recreate the magic of Chosen (s7), with a dash of sacrifice (The Gift, s5) to fight a Big Bad that’s already been defeated… The Mayor (s3) — none of this worked very well, especially crammed into the space of 4 issues. And I say that as a person who LOVES the TV show. But all the comic book writers, including Whedon himself, worked so hard to make the comics a continuation of that world that were also special in their own right, so why not work to give that its own sendoff?
Not to mention, the artwork went WAY downhill. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. Squished faces, messy lines… It wasn’t at all the crisp Buffy artwork we had grown used to.
Like everything else in the season, it just felt rushed.
By the end, I couldn’t help but wonder if Whedon had just stopped caring. His comic reboot over at Boom! was in the works (and it REALLY delivers), and his TV show reboot has also been announced… was he just over it when he sat down for season 12? Too excited for the future and sick of looking back? I don’t know, but whatever happened, it was not fair to the fans.
I give this book a 1/5. The story, plot, character development, artwork and overall delivery were all sloppy. Some of the TV callbacks gave me that fuzzy feeling of nostalgia, momentarily, but that’s not what I had picked up the book for. I wanted a good story. I wanted a good end.