Boom!Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Writer: Jordie Bellaire, Artwork: David López & Raúl Angulo, Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Marc Aspinall
Page 01: We open on Willow's terrified face as something crowds over her.
It turns out to be a large dog-sized beetle, which is trying its hardest to rip her face off. In the background, Buffy is fighting another large insect.
Wills is given a last-minute save by a Buffy-powered sideways kick, that smashes the bug. Though it does leave Wills covered in bug guts, the color of dark Pepto.
Throughout, Willow seems more concerned about Xander's situation, and with blaming herself partly for it, than for her own safety.
Page 02: Buffy points out that the only one to blame for Xander's condition, is Drusilla. She tells Wills to stay focused, so she isn't lost on this mission.
That mission is to retrieve a mystical object called the Soul Tie, to keep Xander from turning into a soulless monster.
Page 03: Willow is finding a map, deciphered by Giles. She reports that there are a series of trials, but at least the next one isn't a physical monster to fight, or death trap to avoid.
As she's studying "a siphon" symbol, she notes the 'tears' or 'drops of blood' in the symbol. The drop of blood causes Willow to blanche, as she remembers all of the blood on Xander's shirt from his vampire wound.
Buffy again has to give her a shake and remind her that this isn't the time to lose focus on the endpoint.
Commentary: Hmmm. I'm kinda-maybe disappointed that Xander isn't just a full-on minion of Dru in this reality. But, I'm also interested in Xan playing the "vampire with a soul" to Buffy, so that Angel can continue doing his own thing in his comic.
Page 04: Willow can't stop freaking out about how pale Xander looked, or how close to death he actually is. She tries to tell Buffy that she's only slowing her down, when they need to be quick, but Buffy points out she can't read the map.
She tries to assure Willow that Xander has enough time for them to do this, and get back to him with the prize.
Page 05: They're psyching each other up is interrupted by a twig snapping in the cavern they're in. A tentative voice calls out to Buffy.
Page 06: We cut back to Giles and Jenny watching over Xander. Jenny is keeping up the protection barrier to keep Xan contained, while Giles is keeping Jenny going with food and tea.
Jenny offers the obvious that Xander didn't deserve what happened to him.
Page 07: She then says that "she doesn't either". Giles tells her of course Willow didn't... but he's interrupted. Jenny was talking about Buffy. She worries that the girl has too much riding on her shoulders and it isn't fair.
Rupert disagrees with Buffy's ability to bear her burden, and Jenny offers that he's spent so much energy being A WATCHER, that he doesn't even consider how tough this has to be on Buffy -- to have so little control over her own life, and to have lost her innocence so early in her teens.
Commentary: I'm still a little annoyed that our introduction to Jenny being with Rupert was a single, no-dialog panel of them sitting on a sofa. So much of the charm of them had been their tentative flirtations and Giles being a bit flustered by the extroverted Ms. Calendar.
All of that was lost with the sudden, dropped-in relationship. But I like this scene. I like that this Jenny is the one worrying over Buffy's mental and emotional health and acting as the adult standing on her side against the Council's callousness.
Page 08: Rupert points out to Jenny that he's been training Buffy for some time now, and he's never seen her fail at anything she sets her mind to accomplish. He acknowledges that she's a remarkable young woman, and recognizes that he's been privilidged to be the one to guide her.
Giles also acknowledges that from an outside perspective, his relationship with Buffy looks strange. But he reminds Jenny that he isn't her father; As Watcher, his job is to give her the freedom to find a way to her strongest self. But he assures her that he'll be there if Buffy falls, to pick her back up.
Their conversation is interrupted by Xander's muttering that they're all going to die.
Rupert and Jenny find Xan sitting up, though still looking like death warmed over. Xander tells them that Drusilla is working on something big, something that will enslave every living soul and the Hellmouth will swallow them alive.
Page 09: On that ambitious note, we return to Buffy and Willow in the cavern, where they're nonplussed to find that Robin has joined them somehow and for some reason.
He tells the girls that they both missed school and he got worried, so he used his friend location app to see where they were [which, I'm sure, is not creepy at all... and my dad can't understand why I won't get a smartphone].
Robin says he was worried after what everyone heard about Xander. And his missing school, too.
Page 10: Willow pulls Buffy away for a pow-wow on making Robin leave, before he gets hurt. Buffy starts to get snippy about Willow telling her things that she already knows, like she didn't think of the risk to Robin on her own, just because she has a crush on him.
In the meantime, Robin is posing with the giant beetles and taking self-pics.
Page 11: Willow now turns snippy, too, and she and Buffy's argument veers off course and gets much more heated about each others' personality flaws.
In the meantime, we can see a large humanoid statue animating, surrounded by spectral eyes.
Buffy and Willow are too far into their arguing about each others' lying, but just before it can come to blows, Robin interrupts to point to the statue-girl.
Page 12: The Statue-girl seems to be enjoying the complicated feelings washing over her between Willow and Buffy.
Page 13: Robin butts in to say that he's complicated, too and has a lot going on. Statue-girl makes reference to more going on with Robin than "these three" realize, even though there is only two others in the room.
Robin glances away, brushing off Statue-girls's comment as miscounting, but his behavior points to something odd going on with him. Something that he doesn't want Buffy or Willow to realize.
Commentary: Well, thank goodness for this small mystery. I did not understand why Robin was being crammed into these scenes, and it was bugging me that he wasn't at all freaked out about the giant beetles lying around ['bugging...' heh-heh]. His inclusion was making no sense to me, except as a way to draw him deeper into Buffy's life.
But now, we're actually getting that there is a reason that we're not privvy to at this time. I feel much better about it.
I'm not sure what to make about Robin's dream that Statue-girl references, as well. Maybe something he inherited from his Slayer-mom, if his general backstory remains intact? We'll have to wait on these questions.
Page 14: The Statue-girl tells them she's enjoying feasting on their emotional pain, frustrations and desires. Through this feeding, she guesses accurately that they desire the Soul Tie.
Willow asks politely for one, but Statue-girl apologizes for being fresh out. Though she does say that she can create a new one if one of the four [again, we only see three people in the room -- for some reason, nobody questions why she keeps referring to four, though I guess they have something a bit more urgent to focus on right now] will give up a part of themselves.
Page 15: Willow pushes Buffy aside and offers herself up for the sacrifice. She's warned that such a rift in her spirit could create a deep darkness and asks if she's sure she'll take the risk. Willow's response is "Anything for a friend".
Commentary: So, I'm assuming that this rift in Willow will be used as a reason behind Dark Willow. Which means that Tara is likely not going to come to her death, if she's even ever introduced, and Rose taking her place will not be used as the catalyst for Wills going bad.
I'm okay with this change. Assuming that's what we seeing being set up.
Page 16: The Statue-girl is amused by her deep feeling of love for Xander, which creates a satisfying meal.
She agrees to the request, shoving a hand deep inside Willow's mouth, before anyone else can react.
Page 17: From Willow's throat, Statue-girl pulls out dripping saliva -- while a bit of glowing matter is pinched between the supernatural's fingers.
Buffy freaks out a little, and shouts that she should've used Buffy's, instead.
But Statue-girl tells her that her friends have more strength than she realizes, and besides, this wasn't about her.
Page 18: Back at Giles', Xander describes the visions he's seen of Dru's plan. He knows it involves an Egyptian dagger and fire consuming everything. Rupert guesses the Hellmouth will be involved.
Page 19: Buffy comes crashing into the room, with Willow being half dragged by her. Robin follows, something that Rupert questions of Buffy, sounding unpleased.
Buffy tells him the short version that Willow got the Soul Tie, and Robin saw a demon snake woman. She helps Willow to a chair.
Page 20: Giles sternly questions the involvement of a demon snake woman, but further explanations of Buffy's adventures is curtailed by Willow going into a hacking fit.
From Will's throat, she coughs up a goo of glowing material, that solidifies into her hand and becomes a glowing stone.
Willow recognizes it as herself... or at least a part of herself.
Robin chooses to leave [not at all suspiciously, I'm sure].
Commentary: I like many of the visuals thoughout this issue, especially coloring and shading. So kudo to the artwork. But some of our facial expressions and eyesize compared to faces is funky and off.
Page 21: Giles tells Robin he thinks that is for the best, and should show himself out -- And forget about everything he saw.
Commentary: This part is too awkward to overlook. It doesn't feel like Giles would just let Robin leave on Scout's Honor. This version of Rupert, anyway. I would really like it if after the Xander-situation is stabalized, Giles cast a dark memory spell on Robin without telling anyone. Give us that hint of ruthlessness that Rupert had in the first few issues, and hinting at his "Ripper persona" -- because he should really have that backstory.
Page 22: Outside, Robin is suddenly tackled into a hug by a chasing Buffy. She apologizes/thanks him for being there for the scary parts that evening. She also tells him that she has a lot to explain to him, but there isn't time.
He understands, and asks after Xander's recovery -- which Buffy replies to with, "He's gotta be".
Buffy turns to race back inside for the Xan Spell Tie ritual.
Robin's phone buzzes with a text: It's "The Council" ... wanting to know if he's found an in.
Commentary: I liked this last bit a lot. It makes Robin's inclusion much more sensible, it sets up another mystery with him & possibly answers the mystery in the cavern, if the Statue-girl sensed that they had a silent listener with them... just all kinds of happy with this. And it gives this Robin an interesting backstory to pursue, later.
The Good: I liked the entire Soul Tie excursion, and that it is Willow who will have to deal with part of her soul being given away.
I very much enjoy Robin's duplicity, and the great excuse for him to have been in this issue, when at first it looked random and he was acting very realistic to the situation he found in the cavern. It all makes sense on that last page.
I liked the design of Statue-girl's snake form, with the dozens of glowy eyes around it.
The Bad: Nuthin.
Other Thoughts: The first half of the issue was a bit ho-hum, but after Willow gets the Soul Tie, it picks up.
I do question Giles' just letting Robin leave without a much more forceful warning about dire consequences if he doesn't keep what he witnessed secret.
The Score: 3.75 stars out of 5