Opening with a major crustacean crisis, Sarah Gailey wastes no time setting up the new group's status quo, with Willow seemingly struggling with her Slayerdom, as previously hinted at in the 25th Anniversary Special. She’s not the only one who seems to be struggling with her lot; Buffy, it would seem, is ill-suited to playing sidekick, and one does wonder if that’s a permanent setting in this universe. There are hints that may not be the case here. Gailey, while flipping the script, keeps the issue feeling familiar enough. The banter feels right, though there does seem to be a heavier undercurrent in Willow and Giles’ interactions. It’s also interesting that Willow seems to have witchy powers in this iteration, too, which begs the question: How different are things really, in this universe? While it does seem too early to really speculate on things, Gailey lines up quite a few questions that already beg for answers.
The artwork by Michael Shelfer feels new for the ‘Verse, with decent, albeit cartoony, likenesses. While the art may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Shelfer’s characters do feel expressive and the action sequences are easy to follow. The colors by Valentina Pinto and Riccardo Giardina feel a bit muted in this issue, but there are some great light effects when magic comes into play. Ed Dukeshire proves to be the consummate professional with his deft touch on the letters.
Overall, this feels like the fresh start this franchise needed, and I’m curious as to where things will go. I’m a bit apprehensive as the flagship title also had a strong start under BOOM!’s stewardship, but it wasn’t able to keep its momentum. Here’s to cautious optimism this time around.
Creative Team: Sarah Gailey (writer), Michael Shelfer (artist), Valentina Pinto and Riccardo Giardina (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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