Boom!BTVS & Angel
Writers: Jordie Bellaire & Jeremy Lambert, Artwork: Eleonora Carlini & Cris Peters, Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Kelly & Nicole Matthews
Blurb: Into every generation, a Slayer is born; a Chosen One. And underneath every generation, an evil lurks; something you can't even conceive, beyond sin, beyond death, the thing the darkness fears. From beneath you, it devours...
Welcome to the Hellmouth.
Page 01: We open on random scenes of Sunnydale, as the firey darkness of the Hellmouth begins to weave its way through town.
In VO, tells us that hunger is a pain unlike any other. It's stronger than boredom; It's anticipation gnawing at your insides.
But finally, soon, feasting will begin. And our narrator will tear this world apart....
Page 02 & 03: OUr VO continues this is their destiny and the Hellmouth will unleash an infernal army.
Page 04: In the museum, Drusilla is watching infernal light emanating above the high school.
She explains to Spike that the blood of the loyal had to be accessed by the Key... his loyal blood, the Egyptian dagger.
Spike is less than pleased to have not been warned that his stabbing was part of the bargain. Their convo points out that while the Hellmouth is activated, woken up if you will, it has yet to be opened which is the real goal. As Dru says, she can feel something speaking to her.
Commentary: I don't know, gang o' mine. With the Seal and the promised opening of it to fully open the Hellmouth, and of course that blurb -- It feels way, way too soon to deal with The First Evil, when that was the final confrontation for Sunnydale in the prime-verse.
I'm of two minds, really. It's nice to put this to rest earlier, so that Jordie can explore other topics and threats (assuming that they'll be interesting, and he works on character development), but it's also worrying that we're going to rush to this huge deal in the first season.
This plot pulls focus from the smaller character stuff that we should've had time to deal with between a half-vampire Xander, and how Angel reacts to him and the continuing issue with Willow's suffering impacts from having half of her soul given away.
We've also got Robin's duplicity (possibly reluctantly), the Council's underhanded behavior and their reasoning, the Cordelia/Spike dynamic that was introduced, the Spike/Drusilla conflicts and we need far more development/explanations for Giles/Jenny and Willow's supposed girlfriend, Rose and how the changes in Willow are impacting them as a couple [plus Rose in general just needs development].
There is so much already to dive into a bit, before the end of the world crisis. But if Buffy and Angel can defeat The First's plans to be released, maybe it'll free up the creative team to really head in unique directions for this alternate 'verse.
Page 05: Drusilla leaves the panicking people and Spike behind her as she heads out toward the Hellmouth. Spike shouts out to her not to leave him behind, but she entirely ignores him.
Commentary: Giles, as is his job, takes advantage of Spike's weakened condition to stake him in the back... oh, wait....
Page 06: Downtown, in her hidden mystic shop, Anya is speedily packing up her belongings. She's been using a mystic eye-spy to watch Dru's progress. With Sunnydale about to receive some seriously ugly visitors, she's decided it's time to bug out.
A crash at her secreted door interrupts her pondering.
Page 07: Her crashing visitor is Rupert Giles. Giles is there to beg Anya for help against what Drusilla is trying to do, but Anya - regretfully - has tried to stop cities falling in the past, and it never works. She does share with Giles what Dru needs next: After spilling the blood of one of her own, she'll need to spill the blood of a mortal next (presumably not just any mortal, because she left a whole room full of them in the museum).
Anya offers that she can't help him, because portents and prophecies are involved in this, and that is more power than she has.
Rupert is left slumped over and defeated... with all of their hopes resting on Buffy alone.
Page 08: In the meantime, the Slayer and Xander are rushing through the halls of Sunnydale High. She shouts back at Xan that they need to get to the library, and find Giles for information on what's happening.
They run into Robin, whose excuse at still being in the building is that he wanted to make sure Buffy was alright. Buffy asks Xan if his vamp-senses can tell them anything, but he turns it on her and asks why her Slayer sense isn't cluing them in.
All of this informs Cordelia, who noone noticed had come in, to get a potted version of Buffy and Xander's current situations.
She doesn't seem all that shocked by any of these revelations of Slayers and vampires, and only slighly more surprised by the current firey cracks appearing through the school flooring, and the wild lights in the sky.
Commentary: Wow, this was so, so very clunky. I'm not sure why Cordy needed to be involved in this, and I don't like the weird way her character is being included. I'm seriously wondering if they have something secret planned to be revealed about Cordelia Chase, because otherwise her character isn't making much sense.
On the otherhand, with the way that Xander and Willow reacted to being attacked by fanged men, who then turned to dust when Buffy stabbed them, maybe this is just more of the bad shorthand writing.
Page 09: In the midst of the chaos, Rupert manages to get a call through to Buffy. He warns her that she needs to get to the Hellmouth before Drusilla does. He tries to tell her that she'll need to sacrifice one of the good guys fighting against her, but the call drops before he can complete what she'll need to prevent.
In the meantime, Cordelia is also wondering about Buffy's bat costume including a long tail. She's barely phased when a demon-rat launches itself at her, which Buffy takes care of.
Page 10: The inertia of our gang in knowing what to do next is snapped by the library doors slamming open to reveal Angel.
He ignores those already in the library, to walk to the center of the room. He complains that he could've sworn "it" was to be found there. Cordelia asks him what "It" is it, since they're already dealing with a bunch of stuff they shouldn't be seeing.
Angel mentions "the opening", before he turns on his heel to continue his search.
Buffy guesses he's after the Hellmouth, too. He's already left, though.
Commentary: I do like this meeting more than the extremely awkward "Welcome to the Hellmouth" introduction. But it's still a bit on the awkward end. It's nice that they don't waste precious panel space on data dumping to each other about who they are and what they need to do, when we - the readers - have this info now.
Page 11: Buffy heads out after the hunched-shoulders guy, with everyone trying to follow. She orders them to get out of the building and leave this to her. Xander refuses to allow her to go alone, but he's interrupted by a sudden jolt of pain, knocking him to his knees.
Buffy drops down next to him, and he explains that he can feel Drusilla close by. Buffy repeats for him to get out of there, and mentions his needing to get to Willow and make sure she's okay. He returns that Buffy needs to be careful, as he just got a vision of what Drusilla is after. Something big and dangerous is on its way and she's running right toward it.
Page 12: Buffy continues on the trail of Angel, stopping here and there to fight off demonic rats, avoid grasping vines and save a few stragglers who ran the wrong way when things turned bad.
Page 13: The two super-powereds run past more panicking students who were too stupid to not run OUT of the building.
In a stairwell, Buffy can finally stop Angel by confronting him on where they're headed. He tries to get her to back off so he can focus on stopping Drusilla, but the both the fact that he knows who her vampire enemy is, and his spilling that he knows she's the Slayer has Buffy too intrigued to be put on the sidelines.
Plus, there is that whole Chosen One thing.
She promises him that they'll be having a chat on just how he is after they've found and stopped Dru.
Commentary: So. I know I'm basically repeating myself but I like the way that Buffy and Angel are meeting, and I like that it's a big event that is bringing them together. I love that Angel isn't dropping in to brood in the shadows and make vague pronouncements, while avoiding confronting the big bad.
But this is too soon for all of this. It just is, in my estimation. It's just more of the not developing these characters and their situations because we know who their prime universe counterparts are already.
We needed at least the first - I don't know - say 15-18 issues to be Angel in his title and Buffy in hers. That time would be spent developing both our characters as they are in this 'verse, while at the same time building up their respective support players.
Then have Drusilla approaching her big, dangerous plan and have this draw the well-defined established characters together for their first big meeting/crossover. Maybe involving a major death of a support character like Jenny, Rose (who'd we know by then), or Eric on Buffy's side and/or Helen (who we'd know and wouldn't of died immediately), Fee-Fee or even Fred on Angel's.
A big event after a build up of the involved titles and with a shattering loss for one or both main characters. That's what I'd have rather done with a Hellmouth event.
Page 14: Buffy and Angel continue down to the basement, where things seem very quiet. This gives them a chance to talk a little bit with Angel warning Buffy that she can't just rush into the danger that they're facing, as it'll only get her killed and leave him feeling guilty for letting it happen.
Buffy points out that she's the Slayer, and rushing into danger is exactly what she does. And then goes off on a tangent about all of the garbage she's dealing with anyway, like an overbearing Watcher and a friend who is missing half of her soul and now is avoiding her...
... Angel points out that her friend is also a vampire, surprising her again with just how much this stranger knows about her.
She does point out that Xander is only half-vampire.
Commentary: And, oh my god, is this scripting awful. Buffy's tangential mentioning of Willow's predicament is such a needless data dump that I can't even. I hate this page.
Page 15: Buffy's continued rambling about her social life, which has nothing to do with anything right now, causes Angel to confirm that he was the guy in the mask who spoke to her earlier.
As they approach where the Seal is located, they find themselves stepping through skeletal remains, and snakes.
Page 16: As Buffy and Angel fight off some minor demons on their way to the Hellmouth, they finally exchange names.
Page 17: There is a sudden burst of mystic fire that erupts through the room they're fighting in, leaving them stunned for a moment, but otherwise unharmed.
Buffy spots a hole broken through the basement wall and runs for it, even as Angel tries to shout a warning to wait.
Page 18: On the other side, is another dark, eerily quiet portion of the Sunnydale High... under the infrastructure of the high school. Oddly, a huge space with a motion-detecting spot light.
Buffy trips over something in the glare.
Page 19: Lying bloodily dead, is the girl that had been full of laughter and joy when she'd been dancing with Robin.
Buffy is struck hard by finding her, complaining that she wasn't fast enough to get down there and save her [she doesn't wonder what the hell this girl was doing all the way down in the sub-basement when she was in the gym].
Page 20: Angel finds her crying over the one she didn't save, and tells her that there are more that she can help.
Buffy asks if this is the fate of her friends, and Angel confirms that if they don't stop what Dru is trying to pull off, it'll be the fate of everyone.
Angel helps her to her feet, to them staring down at the open Seal of Danthazar. Buffy asks Angel if he thinks they'll be coming back from entering the Seal. He admits to not knowing.
Page 21: Buffy takes the first leap, jumping down into the Seal.
Page 22: Inside the Seal is a white, empty space. A VO revels in the Hellmouth being open. The dead girl being the mortal sacrifice needed to open it. The VO continues with its hunger is finally fading.
Page 23: On the otherside is Drusilla, bathed in red light and smiling wildly with the dagger (and explaining how dancing girl made it down to the Seal to get killed).
A voice calls out to her to come and meet her destiny. But VO informs us that Drusilla isn't going to her Destiny of Power, but to a destiny of ruling over naught but shackles and chains, for she cannot hope to master what is waiting to be released.
The Good: I really like how un-sentimental this Dru has been toward everything and everyone around her, including her paramour.
I like the complete lack of cute-meet/lurrve-at-first-sight between Angel and Buffy. He's got too much going on to waste time with her at all, until she refuses to butt out of what is happening.
Really liked the simple moment of Xander being in pain and his and Buffy's hug as she's about to go on without him to confront Drusilla.
I liked the another simple moment: Buffy and Angel standing at the gate of hell, and her wondering if there's any chance that they'll survive the coming fight.
I loved The First's VO informing us that Drusilla's grand plan for herself is a delusion and she's going to be nothing but a slave to The First. I liked the dialog that was written, and the way that it contrasts with Drusilla's joy at what she thinks is her destiny to rule being fulfilled.
The Bad: I hate both Cordelia and Robin's pointless scenes with Buffy while the school is erupting in demonic rat attacks. Especially, the clumsy data dumping for Cordy's eavesdropping.
I hate more expository data dumping from Buffy's rambling to Angel about all of the orbiting people in her life that has zero relavence to the fact that the Hellmouth is being opened. Her out of left field dialog about Robin and Willow and the half-soul thing is utterly ill-timed and senseless under these circumstances.
Other Thoughts: There is more that I would've liked to see, instead of Buffy's awful tangents about her friends to get Angel up to speed on her life, even though she'd have no reason to blab on about any of it: Rose - again - missing. A shot of what is going on with Willow, after that last dramatic view we had of her. Joyce dealing with nearly being murdered, and her fear of where Buffy is at. Jenny trying to keep Joyce and Eric from rushing to the school, when she knows that would only lead to them being killed. It's a bit too convenient for our side characters to not react like actual people would, in order to remain out of the way. And all of this would've take a half dozen panels over two pages, which easily could've been spared.
The Score: I want to rate this much higher, but there is just this pall over the writing that keeps things from being entirely engaging and pulling me into the story deeper. I feel I can honestly say that this isn't about trying to compare/contrast to "my Buffy", either, but a continued weakness within this universe's construction.
3.50 out of 5 stars