After the bombshell revelations of the previous issue, Issue #21 is at once an Anya origin story as well as an explanation of much of what had been going on behind the scenes in Sunnydale. In this context, it’s kind of mind-boggling how unmoored the Scoobies have been all this time. The level of ineptitude of Giles’ leadership is unforgivable, and Buffy really has been a bit aimless for a bit now.
Let me begin by saying that I quite enjoyed the issue, and the cameo by a fan-favorite character was cute, even with the anachronistic references. Anya has been such a cipher that it’s actually really cool to catch up with her. The nods to her origins in the TV show are also nifty. The “problem” with this issue is that it really highlights the major hitch with the series right now; its last two arcs have lost the “Buffy” of it all. In other words, the emotional relevance has seemed sparse lately, especially from the titular character. It really does seem that everyone else around her is growing, or at least growing more interesting, and she’s somewhat stagnated. In retrospect, I can see that some of this was laying the groundwork leading up to this moment, but our Slayer really has been in a rut for a while now. I appreciate the truly monumental task that Jordie Bellaire has undertaken: rebooting a revered cult favorite, recontextualizing the characters for a newer audience, developing a show mythos that involves a multiverse… it’s a LOT, but, unfortunately, a lot of this groundwork comes at the cost of character development. That being said, Bellaire and co-writer Jeremy Lambert seem to have found their pace, and the last few issues have definitely felt like we’re finally moving the needle. This issue felt like we suddenly hit 60 mph after idling for a bit, and it’s because Anya was the missing piece of this story; her piece of the puzzle may be a Rosetta Stone of sorts. #StoriesMatter because just like Anya’s story, they can help us figure out our own stories. They help put the human condition into words that can then be transmitted, that can take hold in our psyches, and be disseminated all over again. They’re probably the oldest teaching tool we have, and this issue highlights a universal truth that all people know: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, especially if she has the backup of a vengeance demon with the same beef to pick.
Andrés Genolet returns to the art duties here, last having worked on the series on the Wesley-centric Issue #17. Much of what I liked about his work then makes a return here. The characters have a lot of personality to them, and there’s good flow in the sequences. What I’m still not sure about is Anya’s demonic form… a limitation of a TV budget meant that her demonic form was limited to facial prosthetics, but that to me seems a lot creepier than the rather generic demon design here. Sure, it was necessary to keep the suspense before, but eh… But, this is also not Genolet’s fault, as he’s just keeping the visuals consistent. Raúl Angulo’s colorwork keeps elevating the art, and there’s so much atmospheric character that sets the mood in seemingly effortless fashion. Ed Dukeshire’s consistent text design for this series keeps the voices “sounding” the same across multiple series and visual styles.
Overall, with Anya and Morgan’s plan revealed and in motion now, things should heat up really quickly in Sunnydale.
Creative Team: Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert (writers), Andrés Genolet (artist), Raúl Angulo (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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