It’d be silly to say that things really amp up in this issue, since the entire Hellmouth series has been a nonstop roller coaster so far. Surprisingly, things do slow down a smidge at one point, and it offers a rare moment of introspection for Buffy. The Hellmother is finally unmasked, and her MO is revealed, leading up to the final issue coming out next month.
Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert write good Buffy and Angel chemistry. Their chemistry, however, needs a bit more room to breathe. Part of the issue, in my humble opinion, is the pacing; the constant splitting up of the two really could be consolidated, I think, so that their time apart is actually felt. There have been a couple of times when their separation is meant to be this epic, destiny-type of tearing apart which I don’t think is quite supported by the text yet. In other words, telling us that these two are meant to be together and hurt each other instead of letting us witness their implosion feels a bit backwards.
There’s also a bit of a disconnect for me with Dru’s characterization here as compared to her earlier appearances. While Bellaire rebooted her as an ice-cold bitca in the Buffy book, Drusilla has kind of been relegated to the smart-ass sidekick now that her whole scheme has blown up in her face. A moment that I wished had stuck a bit more was the identity of Drusilla’s sire; the name drop is almost too casual.
Where I think the writing team has succeeded in crafting a cohesive narrative across the Buffy and Hellmouth series is the characterization of the Hellmother. We learn that her entire MO has been to bide her time, waiting for the right vessel and blood to elevate her power. There are some serious Lady Macbeth vibes with her, all that whispering and cajoling.
Eleonora Carlini has been a great addition to the creative team. Her creature designs are pretty dope, and she does a great mix of dynamic and expressive panels. Her panels of Buffy’s introspective encounter are wonderfully realized, and there’s at least one visual callback that established fans may recognize. Mattia Iacono takes over colors and, on top of maintaining the tone previously established, he also does some amazing fiery effects. Ed Dukeshire’s letters keep the script flowing in his effective, but totally unaffected, way.
Overall, Hellmouth #4 sticks our heroes in the wringer, and this relationship may totally just be a baptism by fire.
Creative Team: Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert (writers), Eleonora Carlini (artist), Mattia Iacono (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Click here to purchase.