The 25th Anniversary Special is a collection of five stories set in the Buffy multiverse. Packed in with the epilogue of BOOM!’s concluded reboot are four much shorter stories that feature the Scoobies, as well as a surprising familiar face that’ll make many fans very happy.
Despite having 30 pages to wrap up loose ends from his recent stint on the main Buffy book, Jeremy Lambert’s epilogue feels a bit rushed and as MacGuffins go, the Godeater is erm… it’s a lot of exposition and I don’t even know if it actually makes much sense, but hey, your mileage may vary. There are some nice horror movie reference bits though, so that’s always fun, considering that playing with the genre is what BtVS always seemed to do well. The artwork by Claudia Balboni provides some visual continuity with their style matching up quite nicely with the artwork from the final arc. Raúl Angulo’s colorwork is topnotch as usual, and the mood lighting is particularly commendable in this story.
With the shorter stories, there’s much more variety with the artwork but they do seem to go well with the tone of each story. “Wondrous and Surprising Magic” brings back one of the Buffyverse’s most beloved couples. I won’t spoil it here, but the title seems a dead giveaway. Lilah Sturges writes a sweet story about blossoming love, and the artwork by Claire Roe captures that spirit beautifully. The colors by Roman Titov show he totally understood the assignment; the candlelit glow diffused by crystals is sublime. A sidenote: There’s also a whole random discussion about vampire clothing turning to dust, because why not poke some fun at the metaphysics of the show.
In “Is This What I Wanted,” Danny Lore takes us along with Xander as he began his summer road trip after graduation. This appears to be the Xander from the TV show continuity as he does make some Season 3 references. It’s got ‘90s lingo and fashions, but more importantly, it’s got a deft examination of toxic masculinity and it a bit helps to rehabilitate Xander’s image a bit, in light of more recent and evolved views on gender. The artwork by Marianna Ignazzi captures the essence of a young Xander really well and his gumption and naivete come across nicely. The colorwork by Mattia Iacono complements Ignazzi’s clean linework and while the color palette is pretty limited here, it’s used effectively.
Casey Gilly (who most recently wrote the Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer miniseries) pens “Mirrors Don’t Lie,” a yarn about, would you guess it, a very narcissistic version of Spike. In this story, Spike meets a powerful woman who shows him a possible future and urges him to straighten up and be worthy of his destiny. The artwork by Bayleigh Underwood is divine; the disco-era references, the sass, the energy… it all just works here. Heather Breckel’s colorwork should absolutely get a shout-out here as it really seems to exude BDE (erm… “Big Disco Energy”).
Finally, in a slightly surprising turn of events, but maybe not so much if you’ve been paying attention to the multiverse Slayers, we get an examination of the trauma of heavy expectations on youth in “Trust the Process.” While seemingly out of place at first, its place in the multiverse is solidified by the end. Sarah Gailey turns out a sensitive script that is effectively translated to page by Carlos Olivares. Olivares’ visuals kinda remind me of a darker take on cherubic children’s book illustrations, which I feel seem apt given the material here. Valentina Pinto does the art justice, nailing that darker aesthetic with a grungy sensibility.
It’s noteworthy that all the stories are lettered by Ed Dukeshire, and it’s amazing to me that while the consistency of quality is high, he manages to adapt to the different story styles. Dukeshire really is at the top of his game, and we’re all just lucky to witness his amazingness.
Overall, I think there’s a little bit for every fan of the Buffyverse in here. Whether it’s canon continuity or hopeful fanfic, this 25th anniversary edition celebrates fandom, and I only wish that we got a more cohesive piece out of this.
Creative Team: Jeremy Lambert, Lilah Sturges, Danny Lore, Casey Gilly, Sarah Gailey (writers), Claudia Balboni, Claire Roe, Marianna Ignazzi, Bayleigh Underwood, Carlos Olivares (artists), Raúl Angulo, Roman Titov, Mattia Iacono, Heather Breckel, Valentina Pinto (colorists), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Click here to purchase.