A lot seems to have happened off-page: Giles has been fired, though Buffy and Kendra are unaware. Buffy is in a major funk right now about her place in the world. Kendra seems to be in a happy place with Rose. Faith is still the Pariah-Slayer as far as the main Scoobies are concerned, and she and Wesley are wrapped up in some plan that the Watchers’ Council has cooking with Mayor Wilkins in the mix. The status quo appears to be rattled for good.
Issue #27 seems to highlight some of the major issues that the BOOM! run has had for a while now. My major criticisms are the following: 1. There is a lot of stuff that happened off-page that we just have to take at face value since they’re mentioned instead of shown. 2. Some of the character relationships feel unearned, if not downright strange (i.e., Cordelia’s sudden third-wheeling with Kendra and Rose after kind of disappearing for a good long while). 3. The pacing isn’t great; it’s been a whole year of Buffy just sort of being listless. While I get the journey that she’s on, it feels like too much is going on with everyone else instead of our main protagonist. And finally, 4. For all the promise of big things happening, it feels like a lot of “The Ring of Fire” “season” seems really unfocused and the planning seems rather weak. While I’ve praised some of Jeremy Lambert’s previous issues, this one just seems to highlight the problems of the past instead of really taking us forward. Lambert does have a few beautiful bits going on in this issue. There’s a lovely scene between Buffy and Joyce that I think exemplifies being a supportive parent in the second decade of the 21st century compared to the more aloof style of latchkey parenting that so many of us were familiar with in the ‘90s. I’m of two minds about this iteration of Cordelia. On the one hand, I enjoy that she seems to be more willing to be part of the Scoobies and that her involvement is not contingent on her relationship with Xander, but, honestly – and this isn’t a criticism of Lambert’s writing as much as it is a comment about how her character was reimagined – this version of Cordy is seriously flat.
Carmelo Zagaria takes over art duties in this issue, and his artwork keeps with the general tradition of this run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer books so far: great action sensibilities but with a much more stylized approach to likenesses. Zagaria’s action sequences feel fluid, and he has a nice handle on some of the quieter emotional moments, too. Raúl Angulo keeps impressing me with his ability to maintain a cohesive visual language, even with a constant change in the artists involved. Finally, Ed Dukeshire’s lettering is great as usual, and it constantly amazes me when my rereads make me reconsider how skillfully the letters are placed that they really trick the eye and mind into perceiving so much dynamic value in a sequential art medium.
Overall, this issue brings us up to speed, and it seems like the Big Bad of the arc has shown up, probably leading up to a big showdown soon. Some great character moments, but overall, the plot seems rather unfocused still, despite the strides to really move things forward.
Creative Team: Jeremy Lambert (writer), Carmelo Zagaria (artist), Raúl Angulo (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Click here to purchase.