Boom!Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 1, Issue 5
"Welcome Back to the Hellmouth", part V
Writer: Jordie Bellaire, Art: David López & Raúl Angulo, Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Marc Aspinall
Page 01: We start in the midst of Buffy out doing her job, focusing on her fist, a stake, and cloud of dust.
During this, Buffy is asking how her foes can stand living like they do, and whether they even consider the pain they're causing.
She asks if don't have a metaphorical heart.
Page 02 & 03: We find our Buffy not randomly patrolling, but in a vampire lair, which she has invaded. This makes the vampires believe they've the tactical advantage, but they're wrong.
Buffy continues like a dervish, even ripping a vampire foes arm completely off.
Page 04: Buffy stands in their midst, looking wild-eyed and dangling a vampire's arm at the rest of the crowd of blood suckers, and demands a volunteer to take her shopping...!
Commentary: I liked this opening for the dynamic artwork, and joining Buffy in the middle of a major battle, and the dialog suggests that somehow she already knows about Xan's fate at the end of last issue. The "take me shopping" thing was weird, as intended I'm sure, but the pacing/visuals of this ongoing battle were well done.
Page 05: The vamp gang asks why Buffy has invaded their home, when they weren't causing any trouble. But Buffy points out that they're the personification of trouble. She offers them a deal to either all continue dying right here and now, or one of them can volunteer to take her shopping and live to fight another day. But it has to be now, before "he dies".
Page 06: We flashback to Buffy in a strangely landscaped classroom, focusing on a clock tick-ticking monotonously, while the whole scene is bathed in red and blacks. She asks where their teacher is and what they're supposed to be doing.
A boy (possibly Xander) points up to the clock, where he is also the "hands of it", ticking down the time.
Commentary: That was a nice bit of surrealism! I liked this page.
Page 07: Buffy wakes with a start, to find that the tic-tic was actually real. It's Willow standing outside of her house and tossing stones up at her window.
Buffy groggily sticks her head out the window, to find out from Willow that Giles had called her with an emergency, and they need to get over to his place.
Buffy grumbles that Giles thinks the full moon constitutes an emergency, and she's a bit annoyed that Rupert phoned Willow, instead of her. Willow reminds the still-groggy Buffy that her cellphone is still AWOL and urges her to get awake, dressed and on their way.
Page 08: As the sun is making its appearance on the horizon, Buffy and Willow travel toward Giles' place.
Willow admits that Giles' summons was vague, but he said it was important to show them something. She changes topics to the Robin/Buffy movie date, and wants to know if there was kissage involved.
Page 09: Buffy relates that in the theater, Robin tried to smoothly hold her hand, but she pulled away. Willow is horrified that she did so, but Buffy, equally horrified, tells her that her hands were so sweaty from nerves, that she had to avoid any hand to hand contact.
Page 10: Buffy tries to recruit Willow into making sure that Robin knows that Buffy still likes him, but Willow refuses on the basis of their not being 12. Buffy accuses her jokingly of being a bad friend.
She asks about Xander's missing, and Willow tells her that she hasn't spoken to him yet, but offers that he was probably feeling sorry for himself again, and didn't show because Robin was there.
When they reach Giles' door, he opens it before they can knock, looking very anxious.
Commentary: I liked the interaction here between Buffy and Willow over something mundane, but so important: dates.
It was nice, and I also appreciate how Willow recognizes that Xander's got issues, and while she sympathizes with him, she also doesn't let him dominate her life trying to pick him up. On the other hand, when it comes to scripting between Willow and Xander, it feels like another case of depending on us already knowing that they're best friends - so sometimes the interaction between them is really off, because the relationship within THIS 'verse hasn't been properly established for us.
Page 11: In Giles' kitchenette, he pours both girls strong tea, while telling them that they'll need to be calm, and strong. He warns that something has happened, and that things will be getting worse before they get better, but they'll work as a team.
Buffy and Willow are left with wiggens at Giles being weird.
Page 12: Giles leads Buffy and Willow to a bedroom, where Ms. Calendar is waving incense around. On the bed, is a ghostly white Xander, his shirt covered in blood around his throat.
Willow screams his name and runs across the room to his side, as Jenny tells her not to cross the circle of sand that they've ringed the bed in.
Page 13: Willow bounces off of a forcefield separating the people from Xander's corpse.
Giles explains that Jenny knows some magic, and she's keeping them protected from Xander. He goes on to explain that he believes this was Drusilla's doing. She left Xander on his doorstep with a note saying, "Tasteless".
Commentary: A sly nod toward Angel's leaving notes for the gang, including Giles about Jenny, in the prime-verse.
And I like that Xander wasn't just killed, but was in fact vamped. I'm not sure that this should've happened this soon, though. The only reason it has such an impact is because we know how close Xander is to Willow and Buffy in the prime-verse.
Here, Buffy would barely know him and Willow and he haven't actually had scenes and dialog enough to feel that they've known one another for a lifetime and are family-over-school freinds.
I like the development, but I wish we'd gotten more time for our trio to be the tightknit group they should become by the end of this 'season'.
Page 14: It's taken this long, but Willow finally grasps that Xander is a vampire, now.
Giles says there is a silver lining, in that Dru didn't complete the siring process. Xander is in a transitional state between dying and being transformed. That gives them a shot at salvaging the situation.
He tells Buffy that there is a powerful artifact called a Soul Tie Stone. If they can get such an object, they can bind Xander's soul to the stone, and then use this to 'rescue' Xander.
He goes on to tell Buffy that he's been aware of a mystic shop hidden downtown, that may have such an object. He knows its run by a non-human named Anya, but to find and access her shop, Buffy will need an escort.
Commentary: I liked this part, too. I like that Anya wasn't able to hide her existence, or her shop's from the Watcher, even if Giles hadn't started working against her. And I like that Rupert didn't just order Buffy to find and bust in on the shop, but is using the subtler tactic of simply visiting Anya first.
It plays into Anya not being a vengeance demon in this 'verse, but a sort of mystical Switzerland, a dynamic that Giles smartly doesn't want to upset, as she could continue to be a useful resource for the Council in future.
And of course, it adds understanding to Buffy's weird line about needing a vampire to take her shopping....
Page 15: We catch up with the present, as Buffy's line echoes that she just needs somebody to go shopping with her.
At the mausoleum where Dru and Spike call home, Dru is feeling disappointed, post Xander-attack. Spike asks her what she expected, and she admits that she wanted her new Xander to be stronger [I'm not sure this makes sense. If Giles is right, she didn't turn Xander, so he'd be strong how...].
She tells Spike that Xander is more like him, insulting him. To his complaints that he gives her everything she wants, she complains that she wants MEN, an army, she needs her William to be strong.
Page 16: Dru and Will continue arguing, with it becoming clear that Drusilla wasn't going to sire Xander at all.
The plan had been to simply kill him to cause pain for the Slayer. But Spike fed Xander his blood to save him.
He tries to argue with Dru that Xander is capable of more than she thinks, being driven as crazy by the Slayer as he was. He argues that Xander will make a good vampire to use against Buffy.
But Dru counter-argues that wasn't why Spike saved Xander from death. He did it because he's soft and weak, and he saw his human self in the boy: Pitiful, weak, and in love with the wrong girl.
Spike offers that if Drusilla is spoiling for a fight, they'll fight, but she tells him to hush up. She's been looking at a book during their argument, and now she points out something that she's found. A symbol of short sword surrounded by Egyptian writing. Now happy, she tells Spike that it will be the key to creating the army that she needs.
Commentary: I was already liking the dynamic with Spike's character, and that continues here. I am really liking their development of Spike as both subservient to Drusilla, and also being his own 'man' at the same time, despite her strength and her being the sire.
And now, in addition to his odd dynamic with Cordelia, we have this reflection of himself that Drusilla believes he sees in Xander Harris. Right now, Spike is the most interesting character in these few issues, with Anya coming in second.
I think that Jordie is running the real danger that his primary cast are going to be permanently overshadowed by the secondary characters... one of them a minion-villain!
Page 17: Back at Giles' place, Buffy hands him a piece of parchment. She tells him that this was all that Anya would give her when she found her way to this hidden shop.
Giles glances over it, and tell Buffy that it'll take time for him to translate. He tries to dismiss her and Willow so they'll not miss school in two hours, but Willow insists she'll take a sick day to stay with Xander. No arguments.
Page 18: Jenny takes Willow's side, and offers to start a pot of fresh coffee, as she'll also be skipping a day.
Buffy joins Willow in chairs at Xan's bedside. Willow, through tears, tells Buffy she really hates Xan for being a jerk and skipping movie night right now.
Page 19: Xander offers wanly that he hates himself too, overjoying Willow that he's awake.
Willow asks how he's feeling and he replies like a big toe. Which Buffy questions as being meaningless. Xan jokes with Willow that she just doesn't get them at all, and Willow smiles and jokes about as well.
Page 20: But the lighthearted moment of tension breaking doesn't last. Xander suddenly spasms, and shifts into vampire-face. Vampire!Xander tells Willow he had to interrupt the comradery on the basis of being really bored.
Page 21: Vampire!Xander berates Willow for not knowing just how dark Xander actually is inside -- all of the things that he hid from her. He describes himself as being nothing more but Xander's actual self coming out to be seen.
Then he turns his attention to Buffy, wondering why she's so quiet, when the Slayer is the only one with any real voice in what happens next. But Buffy tells him she's not going to waste breath arguing, when she knows that they'll save Xander's soul and the demon will be dusted.
Xan calls her beautiful, but ignorant. He then goes into bad-guy-babble mode, telling Buffy all about Drusilla's plans to summon an army and take over the Hellmouth. And Buffy will have a front row seat, crucified and martyred on a cross as all of Sunnydale dies in the flames of the Hellmouth.
Commentary: I'm hoping like hell that they don't screw this up. I hope Xander is saved, after a fashion, but that he remains a vampire and has to cope with the Angel/Spike arcs. I had thought that Xan might die and then Jesse take his place, but I really like the idea of human-souled Xander having to deal with being undead better, especially if Jordie also continues on the implication that Spike and he would share this commonality which would cause Spike to be reluctant to kill him later.
This whole dynamic could be really fascinating, as long as they don't simply revert Xander to human.
Page 22: Later that morning, Joyce is working in the local museum, setting up a new exhibit... and exhibit on ancient Egypt.
She gets a call from the school, because Buffy hasn't shown up to class. She's smooth on the phone, telling SHS that Buffy hadn't been well that morning, and she did okay her missing the day if she was really sick. She thanks the school for checking in with her, but on the pad in front of her she writes down to confront Buffy on skipping school, and then ground her forever.
She mutters to herself about the trouble her daughter is always causing.
In the meantime, on the wall, we see that the exhibit is going to display a very familiar blade... one which Drusilla will be very interested in obtaining.
The Good: I enjoyed the action-start of joining Buffy in the midst of battle.
That one page surreal Slayer dream of Xan (I think- it should be if it wasn't him) counting down the clock was very nicely drawn and inked.
I really love the way that Spike is being portrayed as an anomaly among the undead set, and the way that William's personality traits are so close to the surface with him. I love his having "saved" Xander, when Dru's intent was to just kill him and forget him.
The Bad: Nothing stuck in my craw.
Other Thoughts: While Buffy tossing the arm of the vampire onto the floor was dramatic, shouldn't that have dusted?
My only very minor issue here, is that this thing with Xander is coming a bit too soon and -again- the time wasn't really taken with developing his and Willow's close ties and his and Buffy's becoming actual friends, shortcutting all of that by depending on our knowing their relationship in the prime-verse. That continues to bother me.
The Score: This one was a really good issue with some very interesting character quirks going on in our supporting cast.
4.25 out of 5 stars