Boom!Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Writer: Jordie Bellaire, Artwork: David López & Raúl Angulo, Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Marc Aspinall
Page 01: We open on Joyce and Eric in the aftermath of what went down at the museum. Joyce isn't handling what happened very well. She's shut down, depressed, and feeling completely helpless to protect herself or her daughter.
Eric tries to be there for her, but all he has is platitudes.
Page 02: And when Joyce wants her daughter close, Buffy has busted out a "field trip, with no phone access that cannot be missed" to explain her absence away.
[Stop. When was there time for Buffy to arrange this excuse for her trip into the Hellmouth?? She hadn't seen Joyce since the dance at the high school was interrupted by some Hellmouth rumbling. Ugh. Painted yourself into a corner and forgot that there would be questions from readers about what Joyce would be doing with her daughter missing, huh? The answer was to let Buffy be missing. If there were more obvious disasters going on around Sunnydale, it wouldn't have been out of place for Buffy to become a missing person in the chaos. This is just bad writing.]
Despite the major fire and earthquakes around Sunnydale, school wasn't cancelled. And there's been no declaration of an emergency for the quake damages.
There is a deeper issue for Sunnydale though, and it is the negative feelings that everyone is experiencing.
Commentary: I do like that the real damage being done to Sunnydale is to the general emotional health of the citizens as the Hellmouth continues to work its way toward opening. But Buffy's absence is horribly dealt with.
Page 03: At school, Willow is going through her own emotional toils. She walks right by Rose waiting in the hallway for her, without even acknowledging her. Her time in class is dominated by her thoughts of magick and reading through occult books over her texts.
And her time not at schools is dominated by spellcraft, cutting her off from the rest of her life.
Commentary: It isn't directly mentioned yet, but Willow is getting a double-whammy. She's being influenced by what is going on with the portal, too, but she's also not been able to reconcile her missing part of the soul and Xander and Giles have been completely absent in dealing with her trauma.
Page 04: That evening, prompted by Rose, Willow spends some time at the latter's house, but she isn't really present.
Rose complains that she was supposed to be helping Rose study, but all she's doing in playing a video game on her phone.
Willow archly informs her that she hasn't studied art.
Page 05: Rose and Willow end up in an argument about the expectations that Rose has on Wills, when Willow has her own stuff going on.
Rose is apologetic, but points out that she really needs to pass an upcoming exam, but Willow shouts her down that the Earth is being invaded by Hell, and she's worried about school.
Page 06: Rose snaps back that not all of them play with giant, talking bats and try to save the world. Willow asks what the hell she's talking about, and Rose brings up the rumors that she was fighting giant bat creatures with Buffy.
Willow accuses Rose of being jealous of somebody who isn't even there.
Rose asks Willow where Buffy vanished to, because she suspects that she knows. But Willow says she, in fact, doesn't know. And what's more, she hasn't even been wondering.
Rose points out how that in itself is a problem, and so unlike her. She's been distant and uninterested in anyone else lately. She's been rude, dismissive and moody toward everyone around her.
Page 07: Rose asks Willow what is going on with her, and what she's feeling, but Willow can't come up with anything.
Other than that she thinks she feels like she needs some space. And just like that Rose and Wills are a past-thing.
Page 08: In the meantime, half-vampire Xander and a frazzled looking Giles are in the library. Giles is mildly puzzled at Willow not being in there to help with the situation at hand.
When Xan offers that he's worrying a little bit, due to Willow being through a lot lately, Giles blows off this concern by pointing out that they've all been through a lot.
Commentary: I'm of two minds with Giles' handling here. I would think that this is more signs of the Hellmouth's impact on everyone's emotional and psychological health (that will also seem to be in play later with Jenny), but he was the most nonchalant person in creation when it came to Willow parting with a part of her soul and having a half-vampire/half-souled something running around.
It's all feeling really clumsily written, even before we start tossing mystic influences into the mix.
Page 09: While Xan is trying to discuss the changes seen in Willow, Rupert is getting more and more impatient with everyone else's worrying over themselves, instead of helping him deal with the Hellmouth problem. He finally all but kicks Xander out of the library so he can focus.
Page 10: Later that night, Xander is out patrolling from vampires in Buffy's absence. He complains to a racoon who is eyeing the taco he has that things have been hard the last few days with Buffy being around.
Page 11: He's suddenly tackled by a vampire out for a snack.
Xander vamps out on the attacking vampire, while the racoon gets away with Xan's taco.
Page 12: The vampire and Xander start fighting, with the vampire telling Xander that he's a traitor and an unfinished thing. Xander shouts that he's better than the bloodsucker, but attacking vampire denies this. He tells Xander that he may smell human, but eventually he's going to be subsumed by the demon in him.
There has never been an in-between state for them. Xander ashes him away, but is left with the vampire's disturbing prediction.
Commentary: This could be interesting if anything is done with it. Xander should be different, and he should always be seen by Giles, and maybe secretly by Buffy, as a possible danger that has to be dealt with. It could be investing to watch a slow change come over Xander the longer he's in this artificial state of being (but to be fully honest, I'm not sure that Jordie is the one to tackle this sort of complex storytelling with what I've read thus far).
Page 13: Elsewhere, Giles has left the library in a rage, and stormed over to Jenny's house, despite her not wanting to speak to him. He barges past her protestations to confront her on her dismissal of their relationship.
Page 14: Jenny recognizes that Rupert isn't acting like himself, at least not the Rupert she's used to. Despite Jenny's worry over Giles' state, she tells him that she still doesn't want to talk to him right now. Rupert grabs her by the shoulders and insists that he can explain why he has been acting the way he has.
Jenny is able to push him off, telling him he feels like he's suffering a fever. She gets him a glass of water, which deflates the palpable threatening tension a little and allows Rupert to get a hold of himself.
Commentary: This whole scene is really uncomfortable. Rupert is coming across like an abusive stalker, and I really need to believe it is more signs of the Hellmouth, and not mostly Giles is just a jerkwad of this magnitude. Again, though, it's debatable because of the way he's been written to now without the Hellmouth cracked open.
Page 15: Giles brings up the changes around town since the museum incident. Jenny mentions all of the physical damages around town, but seems to not be noticing that the wrongness is going deeper than that.
Rupert tells her this is why he had to try to keep Dru and the dagger seperate, and Jenny accuses him of trying to blame her for what's now happening. He denies this, but he does point out that this is why he tried so hard to protect them from Drusilla's quest.
Jenny brings up protecting "her", and Giles thinks she's talking about Buffy. He reminds her that he already explained that Buffy is more than capable of handling herself in dangerous situations. But Jenny is talking about Buffy's mother, as she can't get over what almost happened to her because Rupert was going to allow it.
Rupert tells her that sacrifices can be necessary, something that she finds appalling.
Page 16: Giles goes on a rant at Jenny over what it's like to know that nothing can ever be as important as keeping the Slayer alive, not himself, not her, and not them, let alone someone on the periphery of the Slayer like her mother.
Jenny draws the obvious conclusion with shock: That if the vampires had chosen her to make an example of, Rupert still wouldn't have chosen to save her over giving up the dagger.
This really is the final straw on this conversation, and this time when she orders him out, she has her cat threatening to jump on him [I'm choosing to believe it's a familiar, since Jenny has proven herself to have some experience in witchcraft, however exactly what type of experience has been left very vague].
Commentary: This confrontation between Rupert and Jenny was the scene for me. Specifically, his desperate attempts to make Jenny realize that nothing can be more important than keeping Buffy safe, so that she can keep the rest of the world safe, and how much he'll lose to make sure that happens. I loved this page in particular with Giles' ranting breakdown.
Page 17: Outside Jenny's, with the door slammed at his back, Rupert wonders if everyone else has gone mad.
Page 18: In the meantime in a darkened and damaged house next door, a single light is shining from a room. There is a note written by an absent parent to her son to take the $20 she left and get pizza, and to at least think about going to the dance at Sunnydale High.
The money hasn't been spent, even though it has been a few days.
Page 19: In a bedroom, the son in question is on local social media. He pays particular attention to Cordelia, Robin and Buffy. This may be the boy who earlier was jealously coveting Buffy when she was flirting with Robin.
He promises that all of "them" are going to pay for "this".
Page 20: Meanwhile, meanwhile, a young lady arrives in Sunnydale by uber to the bus depot.
The driver warns her that Sunnydale isn't exactly safe currently with the slow motion disasters happening, but she seems unconcerned.
Page 21: At Robin's, he's hearing strange noises and thinks it's his dad rambling around. He checks on him, only to be told that he still has school the next day, and shouldn't be up at this time of night. He tells Robin to get his ass to bed.
Page 22: When Robin returns to his room, he finds the girl who'd just arrived somehow snuck in, and is waiting for him in particular.
He stands surprised, while our lady tells him that he looks a little short for a Watcher [which makes zero sense]....
The Good: I like seeing that while Sunnydale is physically being damaged by the Hellmouth below them, the residents are also being injured inside. It ties in nicely with Drusilla's rambling about the fire hurting her in the places you can't see in Hellmouth number 2.
I also like how even the people you would think would notice a pattern in the behavior going on, are oblivious to the fact that they themselves are also being affected from Willow to Giles to Jenny. Everyone is only seeing that other people are acting weird.
I liked Xander's vamping out, and the implication that he's not as well post-soul stone as we were led to believe.
I really found that moment in the argument between Jenny and Rupert pretty powerful and disturbing, when Giles flat out tells her that next to his duties, he and she and they don't mean anything. It's just bluntly awful and shocking, but also smacks of truth.
The Bad: The only thing that is totally ridiculous is the sudden news that Buffy had warned her mother somehow that she would be away at a "school trip" where there wouldn't be cell service. And somehow, the school hadn't informed Joyce of this beforehand, hadn't demanded a waver from Joyce for permission, and Joyce doesn't question any of this. That is bad writing to cover for the fact that Buffy is in the Hellmouth, and Joyce should be flipping the hell out and causing an Amber-alert.
The entire bit with how people are aware of giant talking bats and vampires killing museum goers is entirely just brushed off is hugely problematic. As Buffy, S8 showed, it's hard to adequately deal with the fallout effectively and logically if you don't have a supernatural-censor in place to shield people from the hijinks. And this series has fallen down on even trying.
Other Thoughts: It was nice that Rose and Willow had a substantial scene together, finally, but we just don't know anything about who Rose is, so it all lies flat, ultimately. There was really little given to her to do, so this sudden breakup for reasons that are Hellmouth-influenced doesn't have the emotional impact.
Even with Rupert being just as impacted by the Hellmouth influence as everyone else, his barging into Jenny's home and refusing to leave, and then putting his hands on her was very uncomfortable. I don't like that this is how their confrontation was set up. But... see The Good, which redeems it.
The Score: 3.50 out of 5 stars