Right now, things aren’t looking so good in Sunnydale. While the more obvious bad stuff (i.e., the hordes of demons that poured out when the Hellmouth was open) has ceased, it seems that evil is still seeping into the world. For instance, the aggressive behavior displayed by several of the male characters seems rather out of character. You may remember Giles’ outbursts in the last issue. Well, he’s not the only character that seems a bit irritable lately. From the preview, it would appear that Robin Wood is also not immune to bouts of crankiness.
Speaking of Robin, he has been a background player with a bunch of intrigue shrouding him for a while now. He shows up randomly and has some hidden agenda to ingratiate himself with the Scoobies while being in contact with the Watcher’s Council. And now, he’s to serve as the Watcher of the new slayer in town? While I’m sure the math will eventually make sense, it would be cool if I knew if I was looking at trig or calculus here…
Having read several issues of the overarching Hellmouth event, I think that the Buffy series is the toughest sell, which is kind of surprising. The Angel series is telling a much smaller story, focusing on building Angel’s team. Angel and Buffy’s adventures in the Hellmouth series, while dire, are also highly focused on building their rapport and a much more intimate book. At the end of the day, despite missing its eponymous heroine, the Buffy series ends up having to essentially hold the narrative weight of the major crossover event, and it has to do it with a large cast. Jordie Bellaire has largely managed to do this, but the narrative seems a bit scattered so far. There are tons of side stories that explore different angles of the events in Sunnydale, but, right now, their enormity seems to bog the pace down a bit. The arrival of Kendra should start to unite some of those disparate storylines, I think.
On the subject of Kendra, there are a couple of interesting things to note here. A.) She’s not named until her introduction to Rose and Cordy at the very end. B.) Her arrival in Sunnydale this time around is far less dramatic than before. I mean, maybe stowing away on a plane is a bit much, but arriving via Uber is just so… unslayer-y. Also, given Robin’s aspirations, I see some conflict between Kendra and him soon.
The art is a bit of a mixed bag for me. While I generally like David Lopez’s art, his faces are sometimes a bit distracting. Every character looks perpetually shocked, which in certain situations, make a lot of sense, and in others, it just looks a bit… uncomfortable. His faces work best during high emotional conflict, conveying the drama very effectively. Lopez’s work, however, is best at conveying suspense and grim atmospheres. It’s all unsettling shadows and angles. Raul Angulo’s colors do a great job of conveying the mood and atmosphere, too; Sunnydale seems normal, but the subtle changes in light and background effects reflect the emotional context of the scenes without text. Ed Dokeshire’s lettering is top notch as per yoosh. Where this is most obvious is during the showdown with Luke; Dukeshire’s lettering brings across the malice in Luke’s voice in such a way that you’re literally being assaulted by the hatred of that speech.
Overall, while emotionally engaging on several fronts (P.S.: Rose seems to have some baggage that needs unpacking.), this issue comes across as a bit unfocused. The ambition of the scope is to be praised, but perhaps it isn’t quite suited to the narrative structure of a monthly comic. Here’s hoping that Kendra can help pull things around by uniting the team.
Creative Team: Jordie Bellaire (writer), David Lopez (artist), Raul Angulo (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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