“Last Gleaming” (part 4)
Buffy battles the possessed Angel as the Slayerettes ally themselves with the demons of Earth to fight the Twilight creatures.
Michelle Madsen makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer a colorful kaleidoscope. Purples and reds highlight the underground chamber housing the Seed. Golden sunsets blazing through burnt orange clouds prove hazardous to Spike’s health, so to speak. Madsen splashes the rainbow to the Slayers’ and Wiccans’ garments as well as the demons’ hides, and as her fellow artists go Sergio Leone, she imbues jade to Buffy’s flaring eyes. Yes, I love Michelle Madsen’s colors. Because of her, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the only comic book series that dares to approach the astounding gamut of color flourished in the Bongo Simpsons titles.
Madsen’s hues enhance Georges Jeanty’s and Andy Owens’ artwork, but even were their illustration presented in black and white, you would still be impressed. Jeanty and Owens create Sarah Michelle Gellar’s doppelganger in these pages. Buffy’s expression of anguish reflects Gellar’s acting and if you’ve ever seen the series, you know that pain and sorrow were a Michelle Gellar specialty.
Jeanty and Owens mirror Eliza Dushku’s Faith and Alyson Hannigan’s Willow in the panels , but the scope of the story somewhat damages the entire presentation. Willow’s lover, Kennedy doesn’t resemble Iyari Limon, and the depiction of the male contingent this issue is rather spotty. Xander and Spike best represent Nicholas Brendan and James Marsters though not as consistently as Jeanty and Owens depicted them before. Angel and Giles end up a little worse for wear, and given Giles’ pivotal role, you would think that he deserved a stronger likeness to Anthony Stewart Head.
So, let’s talk story. I hated this story. This was the sloppiest Buffy the Vampire Slayer story I have ever read and it all stems from the idiocy of Angel being Twilight. I suspect that Whedon plotted this story backwards. He imagined a big ass battle pitting Angel against Buffy because logically he is her only match. For seven seasons, Buffy wiped out every arch monster thrown at her–from the Master to the First Evil. Angel was the only one that could possibly do her harm. Here’s the problem. The idea of heroes battling each other to the death is intrinsically flawed. Any trigger enabling such a duel will feel contrived.
In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we’re supposed to believe Angel was the masked rider Twilight all along. Twilight was also a Utopian universe Buffy and Angel boinked into existence. The Twilight universe in addition somehow bled back through time into the Buffyverse proper to empower Buffy and Angel in order to make their snuggle-bunnies possible. Whedon’s trigger is based on a nonsensical mess. This means only one thing. The actual spark that could have sent Buffy and Angel into a flurry of fists doesn’t exist. Whedon is the only person that could have lit the fuse, but the best he could do was this.
Because of the artificial fight, the unconvincing shocks and the ridiculous revelations, Buffy the Vampire Slayer comes off as just another comic book and that’s about the worst thing that can be said. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the closest thing to Doctor Who on television. It was not just another television series. The comic book in its glorious opening arcs was superior to every other comic book. “Twilight” and “Last Gleaming” could have found a home at DC.