Pullbox Reviews: Mirka Andolfo plays a little What If? in the Buffyverse!

Written By: Mirka Andolfo

Illustrated By: Siya Oum

Inked By: Giuseppe Cafaro, Francesca Follini & Dario Formisani

Colored By: Eleanora Bruni

Letterered By: Ed Dukeshire

Covers By: Mirka Andolfo, Sweeney Boo & Junggeun Yoon

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Available: June 30

Price: $7.99

Into every generation, a Slayer is born; a Chosen One. They alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. They are the Slayer.

And to every Slayer, their Watcher. Near anyone reading to this point is well-acquainted with the concept of Slayer and Watcher, and the unique relationship they possess. For who is Buffy, without Giles? And seriously—if any of this is new to you, do yourself a favor and go back and do the research. It’s just 7 years of tv and 200 or so comics. Trust me: all well worth your time.

But what if Giles wasn’t Giles anymore?

What if Giles, with all his knowledge of the Slayer, of magic, of Sunnydale…of Buffy!…what if the Slayer’s great mentor/father figure became one of the very demons she exists to destroy?

Scary, scary crap—that’s what!

But that’s exactly the horror we’ll immerse ourselves in, fair reader, amongst the pages of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tea Time, a double-length one shot out this Wednesday from Boom! Studios and the team of Mirka Andolfo and Siya Oum!

I’ll admit, after having read the ongoing Buffy series (and Spike, and Angel & Faith) fairly religiously through seasons 8, 9 and 10, I’ve slipped a little from the pace. Truth be told, while I’ve got them all sitting there waiting for me in some format or another, I haven’t cracked one open in a solid few years. But when I saw Mirka Andolfo was pulling a one shot featuring a vamped-out Giles, and Siya Oum was illustrating?!?

Dude.

Time to get cracking!

So, out of the loop for a hot minute…and I gotta say, I was a wee shell-shocked by the opening page of our tale du jour. The Scooby Gang…staking a tea-toting, fang-faced Giles?!? What fresh hell is this, Boom! Studios?!? I leave for a second, and you’re taking out ole Ripper?!?

Well, all is explained in fairly short order, as we meander through a What If?-style treatment of the Buffyverse, each character presenting their own version (or two) of life and death with the imaginary DracuGiles, as Buff, Willow and ‘Xander nosh on Krispy Kremes in their beloved library and avoid their assigned tasks of researching Sunnydale’s latest threat. It’s an alternatingly fun, touching and seriously demented ride (Willow has a particularly haunting respect for Giles’ darker gifts), but all in good fun.

I think.

It is, right?

Uhh, Giles?

There are two types of people in the world: those who are Buffy fans, and those who obviously need lots of counseling. Mirka Andolfo sits comfortably in the first category and gets to spend some time playing in Joss Whedon’s sandbox before she launches her new ongoing Red Sonja title for Dynamite later this year. And clearly, she has a whole lot of fun doing it. The characters read exactly as they do in the series and previous books, their voices as crystal clear as if Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Head and Nicholas Brendon were in the room. And the storytelling device she works up for this very entertaining one-shot is highly effective.

Siya Oum’s style, if you’re not familiar, is similar to that of J. Scott Campbell: all sharp features and angular bodies, with a more traditional “comic book” feel. It’s a different take relative to the Buffy to which I’m accustomed, but very smoothly rendered—and the inking team of Cafaro, Follini and Formisani provide excellent depth and shadow, especially in the visually busier library scenes. Eleanora Bruni keeps everything bright and poppy, her colors setting the right balance of darkness and levity, keeping us right in the groove of bubblegum horror that Buffy has always trod so well. Oum’s lines maintain enough of the original show cast for us to place who our key players are, but provide enough of a departure to let us sink our teeth (see what I did there? Cause vampires, and junk?) into this book as a fun, stand-alone Buffyverse delicacy.

Oh, and fair warning: Andolfo and Oum’s real payout here lie in the last story, Buffy’s of course, which is both touching and haunting, and makes the entire book more than worth the read. Seriously good stuff.

Ed Dukeshire, who seems to handle the lettering of practically every book I review and probably places word bubbles in his sleep (I bet he even eats Campbell’s alphabet soup for lunch to keep up his strength), does his usual yeoman’s job on this one. He doesn’t have a whole lot of fun sound effects work to play with, but with all the verbal storytelling, he had a job fitting everything in amongst Oum’s lines, and the work flows and ebbs exactly as it ought to.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tea Time will be dropping at your local comic shop, at Amazon and on Comixology (and all the other usual spots) on Wednesday, June 30, for an MSRP of $7.99. Get your vamp-slayin’ booty out there and enjoy, pilgrim—and tell ‘em the Pullbox sent you!

11/13

Review by Andy Patch
Contributing Editor

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