Pullbox Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer #14- After the Hellmother… what’s next?

Kendra The Vampire Slayer—and the all-new Scooby gang—must defend Sunnydale from the aftershocks of the Hellmouth and a new threat that feels very familiar! But can they fill the void left behind by Buffy?

And will this issue answer the question of what, exactly, happened to Buffy?

First of all, before we do anything else I just wanted to say to everyone out there… We’ve got new COMICS and we really want to talk about them! Things aren’t back to normal just yet, but we’re on our way as publishers who had to scale back their production start to come back online. If you’ve been with us all of this time, thePullbox appreciates you. If you had to step away for a bit, not sure how the lack of new comics would affect our little corner of the internet, welcome back. Socially distanced fist bumps & high fives all around!

Okay, now how ‘bout we talk about a comicbook? Fair warning, this might run a little long… cuz I got words.

As Sunnydale recovers from the Hellmother’s attacks, Buffy tries to return to her life. Her problems have nothing really to do with the slaying, but more to do with feelings of isolation. Zander sacrificed himself to save Willow, who then went off on her own journey of self-discovery, leaving Buffy to come to terms with a much smaller circle of friends. What’s a girl to do when she finds herself wondering if being a friend only invites disaster to anyone around her?

With their line of Whedonverse comics, Boom has had a lot to live up to.  Years after the show’s final episode, Buffy still has a dedicated legion of hungry fans waiting for someone to pick up the torch. Dark Horse carried it for a while with their series, continuing the original story with a series of “seasons” that picked up where the televisions show left off. The problem was that working with the existing continuity limited where they could go from there. There were some fantastic stories in the run, but its time was finite.

When Boom picked up the series, they rolled the dice and called for a soft reboot… a do over. That’s right, they took the reboot bat to the entire Buffyverse, undoing almost everything that had laid the groundwork for a show, a world, a cast of characters the fans loved. I’m not gonna lie, I had my doubts. A lot of ‘em. If you’ve read any of my articles in the past, you should know that I’m not a big fan of reboots. To me it seems a little lazy, taking a giant eraser to an existing property, tearing down something that someone else built rather than creating something new or building off of what’s been done. Especially with a series as groundbreaking as Buffy, trying to start over from scratch seemed like it could jump the shark before it ever got off the ground.

I’ve been wrong before, and I look forward to being wrong again.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been a riot so far, through its introductory arc and the very first Buffyverse crossover (The Hellmouth). What Boom did brilliantly wasn’t in trying to rebuild the franchise from the ground up, but was more about adapting it, bringing it out of the 90’s & into current times. All of the characters fans love are there, more or less unaltered in personalities but placed in new situations. Untethered from existing continuity, Boom has been able to make adjustments that represent how much things really have changed over the last 20 years (the original series premiered in 1997… if you’ve been a fan from the beginning, how old do you feel now?).

So what did Boom do to keep all of these finely tuned elements, built up over the course of a seven season television show, in balance? They started out by hiring writers like Jordie Bellaire, folks who seem to have a pretty healthy regard for the source material. The most important thing about Buffy was the cast of characters, their personalities, & the way they all interacted. Bellaire seems to get that. All of these people- because to some degree they stopped being just characters somewhere around the third or fourth season of the show- have to act and talk in a particular way or the fans just won’t buy into it. Bellaire takes those characters, intact and familiar, placing into the new story in a way that should keep everyone happy. Everyone except Buffy, maybe, but if you watched the show at all you already know that Buffy was never really destined for happiness. Angst and the burden of being “the Chosen One” was always more her thing.

One aspect I haven’t been all that happy with in this series so far has been the art. It wasn’t necessarily bad, it’s just that the style hadn’t clicked with me, until now. Coming into a new story arc, the artistic collective of Julian Lopez & Moises Hidalgo (illustrators), with coloring by Raul Angula & Francesco Segala is nothing short of extraordinary. The credits list Lopez as the primary illustrator, and I’m not sure where his duties leave off and Hidalgo’s pick up, but the work done in issue 14 is gorgeous, with more attention paid to the actors’ features than has been done previously. The team of Angula & Francesco on colors holds to that level of excellence, each scene and setting being given its own color scheme to set it apart. This issue being heavy in the character development, it’ll be interesting to see if that level of detail will carry over into the action sequences, or if fight scenes will suffer for it.

Of course, the talky-word bits have always been the bread & butter for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’d read an article a while back claiming that rather than writing to mimic the speech of high school students, Joss Whedon’s scripts were actually influencing high school students and the way they talked. It’s a pretty impressive bar, so Ed Dukeshire has something live up to in making those word bubbles sing. Once again, this being a story-centric issue there was a lot of talking to build up the story, and Bellaire’s script was well served by Dukeshire. Everything flowed through the panels without breaking into the outstanding artwork.

This new telling of the Slayers’ story (yeah, I know that’s typed up as a plural… say hi to the folks, Kendra) is a new take on the TV series, but it’s being handled with love & care. No reboot wiffle bats allowed, so fans can dive in and get a taste of how Buffy & the Scoobies might handle themselves in today’s world of social media & Tic Toc videos. With the all-important first arc in the can, I’m looking forward to seeing where Boom & company takes it from here.

Final Score: 10+

Cover B- Multiverse
Cover C- Ring of Fire
Cover D- Variant
Cover E- Unlocked Retail
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  1. Linda Baumeister

    Great review Paul, I would expect nothing less when it comes to Buffy.

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