Boom!Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Writer: Jordie Bellaire, Artwork: David López & Raúl Angulo, Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Marc Aspinall
Note: In issue 11, last panel I misidentified who was appearing out of nowhere to save our gang. I had thought it was Buffy making a sudden return from the Hellmouth. This was an error. Our sudden blonde is actually Anya.
Page 01: So, Xander, Willow and Kendra are a bit taken aback by the sudden arrival of a blonde stranger with a mallet getting between them and a horde of Hellmother controlled rage-zombies.
Kendra worries after the now-unconscious Robin, but Anya assures her that he'll be fine from the clubbing she'd given him.
Page 02: While the rage-induced are turning their aggression on each other, Anya leads our trio away. She tells Kenrda again that Robin will be fine, as the rage-crew isn't after him. Willow asks Anya what the rage-crowd is after, as Anya leads them to a crypt.
The crypt is actually a cover for a tunnel network under Sunnydale, allowing them to leave the cemetary before the raging townspeople get back to finding whatever it is that the Hellmother is interested in their retrieving.
Page 03: Back at the diner, Rose is waiting for Kendra to return from her unspecified errand. Cordelia is there, having a job and everything. She tells Rose that she needs to close up. They have a short discussion about the weirdness of Kendra, and about how Sunnydale overall is just a weird place. Rose grabs a mop from Cordy to help her close, since she's being allowed to wait a bit longer for Kendra to show up.
Commentary: I liked this bit. It was short, and not really meaningful, but I liked Rose/Cordelia acknowledging the much weirdness going on. It's the small things.
Page 04: In the tunnels underneath Sunnydale, Anya has been filling in the crew on how big the Hellmouth situation actually is. Xander offers that it sounds like they're all doomed. Anya tut-tuts his over-dramatics. She tells them to be less focused on the rage-crowd, because the Hellmouth business is several problems at once, and they have something else to deal with.
Kendra, feeling more focused with mention of the Hellmouth, tells Anya that she needs to know where it is so she can perform her duty and close it.
Anya guesses that Kendra is the other Slayer, which Kendra balks at, pointing out that she is The Slayer. She starts the "one in every generation..." spiel. But Anya is aware of the Slayer-line. She offers however that surely Kendra can feel that she's not alone. There are two of her, now.
Commentary: Hmmm. So, it does make sense for Anya to have all of this information, but she's also a bit too knowledgable about EVERYthing going on, which is feeling like short-cut/data-dump to make it easy on our characters to be up-to-speed. I'm ambivalent about the way she's being used here. On the other hand, I like this Anya being more of an oracle, rather than a vengeance demon as a shakeup of my-Buffyverse status quo. Giving the characters different backstories, personalities and storylines is all welcome. But when you've got a 'know-it-all' character, you really need to be careful about putting them in the middle of the story. I have the same concerns about Lilith over in Boom!Angel.
Page 05: Kendra does admit that she's felt something... divided, but couldn't explain it. Willow grabs onto the fact that this means Buffy is still alive, which Anya confirms. She tells them that the Powers That Be have been allowing Buffy a certain amount of safety. She further reveals that Buffy is only starting her journey and being in the Hellmouth is part of it.
But, she disturbingly leaves the impression that Kendra may not be. Anya tells them that everyone there will have a part to play in resolving their crisis.
Xander offers that he likes the odds of two Slayers versus the Hellmouth. Anya responds that she's choosing to ignore his naive input.
Page 06: Willow excitedly exclaims that this means that they're all going to be okay and win this. Anya dashes that assumption, explaining that while the Powers That Be see everything, they can't actually do much of anything. She tells them that they depend on people to be their best selves at the right place and moment. And she's just brought them to their destined place.
Page 07: Back at the diner, Cordy and Rose bond over their fears and hopes for the future. But, they've reached the end of the evening, and Cordelia really needs to lock up and leave. Before she can push Rose out the door, though, they find their way blocked by one of the rage-men pounding to be let in.
Commentary: I didn't notice it before, but there is a whiff of the current political climate going on here. All of our women are strong and capable and self-actualized. All of our men fall like dominoes to the Hellmother. It seems that only those barbaric-menfolk are susceptible to being controlled and possessed. *sigh*-moving on.
Page 08: Our one "drunk" guy at the door, is soon joined by many. Rose offers that something isn't right, and says they should call the police, but Cordelia points out the policemen (and only men) are a part of the crowd.
Commentary: I do like the creepy, "Get out of my way!" that is the only thing the rage-crowd says... repeatedly. That's a nice touch.
Page 09: Rose spots Mr. Giles, the librarian, squeezing pass the crowd and offers they should let him in. But Cordelia tells her to step away from the glass. Rupert immediately starts repeating the crowd's refrain, and then bashes his head against the diner door.
Now, Rose and Cordelia are really afraid as the noise of the rage-crowd becomes thunderous with pounding on all of the windows, the door and chanting obsessively for everyone else to get out of the way.
Page 10: Giles manages to crack open the door glass with his head, reaching through the window and shouting at the girls to get out of his way.
When it looks like Cordelia and Rose are going to be overrun, Anya and the gang suddenly appear behind them. The rage-crowd is suddenly thrown away from the diner windows, with Anya cracking wise.
Page 11: As Willow starts to tell Rose about the tunnels underneath Sunnydale, Anya quickly goes toward the Tunaverse kitchen. She tosses back that nobody should leave the diner, as it's the safest place to be. Cordy, flabbergasted, offers that the diner is 70% glass and 30% fish parts, which doesn't seem too safe. But Anya removes a secret panel behind the order counter, and reveals that she's been keeping a stash of specialty weapons there as a fallback.
[Of course, the crowd of angry-brute-men surrounding the place suggests that keeping highly valuable weaponry in such a vulnerable place maybe wasn't the bestest plan overall. Of course-of course though, maybe Anya foresaw that this was the exact place that she'd be needing them at some future point.]
Page 12: At the Summers' house, Joyce struggles with Eric. He's also repeating the "Get out of my way" refrain and trying to leave the house. Joyce pleads with him that his fever has him upset, but when she tries to physically pull at his arm, he tosses her off.
She's left on the porch, calling after Eric and Buffy, and trying to understand what is happening to her life.
Page 13: On the street, Jenny Calendar is also noticing the men acting peculiar as they pass by her. In the distance, she sees a violet stream of light.
Page 14: At the diner, Anya's shielding against the rage-crowd is buckling. She explains that the men are under the influence of a dark, primal force and Its breaking down her defensive shield. She tells them that she needs them to buy time and offers that she has a Plan B: Willow.
Wills offers that she's not ready for this sort of thing, but Anya expresses confidence that she is.
Page 15: The glass of Tunaverse crashes inward, leaving our gang with the unenviable task of maybe starting to kill people to save themselves. The horde invades, and watching Rose get knocked down gives Willow the surge of confidence she needs (It looks like Robin, knocking Rose down). Holding a mystic dagger, she starts a dark spell.
Page 16: The building fills with a dark, purple light... probably the light that Jenny saw. The rage-men are knocked to the floor as one. Xander shouts Willow's name in alarm, as her eyes turn coal-black, and she levitates toward the ceiling.
Page 17: With the immediate threat down, everyone looks at Willow struggling - folding in on herself against the powers that she's tapped to save them. Xander mentions her screams of anguish. Anya tells Xander that both he and she have been struggling with only being part human since the Soul-Tie business. Xander begs Anya to just reverse the Tie as it isn't worth what is happening to Willow, now, but Anya tells him she can't do anything about that, but he can.
Page 18: Xander reaches out for Willow, as memories of them as children flash through his mind. He tells Anya to tell him when.
Suddenly, a booming voice shouts out to "Protect Slayers!"
Page 19: Those not in the know are faced with the giant bat creature that had shown up previously in downtown Sunnydale. It shouts to "Cleanse the evil!"
Anya has been expecting the arrival of Camazotz, and with his entry into the drama, tells Xander it is time.
Page 20: Xan hesitates, as Anya goads him to do what is necessary. He finally grabs Willow's hand, releasing her part of her soul she'd given him. It's enough to allow Willow to regain herself and break the link to the power she summoned.
Commentary: I liked this! The soul-tie thing was a neat idea, but I didn't like the way that the ongoing problems it caused was only being obliquely addressed. It didn't seem tenable to me over a long term, and I'm glad that Jordie also felt that this couldn't stand longterm. I also like that its undoing is due to such a big threat. It feels right that the Hellmouth business would be the reason to return Willow to status quo, and to give Xander the impetus to sacrifice his tie to his humanity for her.
I also like that Camazotz is being brought back out of hibernation. It only makes sense that he'd be summoned for something this huge, and I'm glad for his return, because I had forgotten about his earlier appearance already.
Page 21: Anya greets the giant bat as if they're familiar. She asks after how he is, but his only response is to repeat, "Protect Slayers! Cleanse the evil!".
Kendra wonders at what exactly she's looking at, and Jenny's head pops up over his shoulder. She's been riding his back, and she now replies to Kendra that she's looking at backup.
Commentary: Nice! I'm loving Jenny being involved this way, and being the one to reawaken, or at least directing, the guardian bat to where he's needed to help the Slayer-in-residence. Like, Like, Like.
Page 22: With Kamazotz being so large, he's easily able to carry Jenny, Kendra, Cordelia, Anya and Willow away from the just recovering rage-crowd.
Willow looks back with teary-face, as in the diner, we see Xander HAS ASHED AWAY!
Over her pain, Hellmother tells the night that "Love is nothing without sacrifice", "They will bleed their burdens", and other claptrap.
Commentary: WHA?! Jordie killed Xander?! For realsie?!
OMG. Okay. I gotta respect that Jordie is just going for it, and making sure that status is unquoed. Wow.
[Of course, in the meantime while I was fighting with my scanner, Willow's series has been announced. I don't know any details. I don't want to know any details. But, I really-really hope that it isn't about bringing Xander back from the dead. I WANT this company to do everything different with these characters.]
The Good: I liked the little bits of character work by Rose (who has been so underused) and Cordelia, as the characters on the edge of the Slayer-business.
I liked the creep factor of all of the rage-men obsessively repeating, "Get out of my way" as they surrounded and invaded the Tunaverse.
I appreciated that Willow's dark power tapping wasn't without consequence. First, because she couldn't turn it off - and being relatively inexperienced with magic, that makes sense and then with having to be saved by Xander with his ultimate sacrifice.
Loved Jenny being the one to retrieve Kamazotz, and just his return to the story was great.
The brave decision to actually dust Xander Harris away. Getting rid of a major character really brought home the danger of the Hellmother and what is going on with the Hellmouth.
The Bad: Well. Okay, Willow being the one to do the dark mojo when we haven't seen enough magick development to justify this - especially when Anya is still there, and she clearly has the mojo as well, wasn't entirely sensible. It was necessary for the story, I guess, but that didn't impart sense on the choice.
I also wasn't crazy about Xander having literally nothing to do, despite his vampire strength and speed, until it was time to die.
Other Thoughts: I'm not crazy, either, of the all-men-weak/all-women-strong undertone of this issue. I'm not throwing a temper-tantrum about it, but it does have that whiff of current gender-politics invading the story too heavily.
I'm also ambivalent about Anya knowing too much and being used so liberally to answer all the questions.
I don't like the implication that Kendra isn't long for this world, specifically because she's the second Slayer. I would like her to have to find a way to accommodate Buffy, and vice-versa. And besides, if Kendra dies, does that mean no Faith in this 'verse, since Buffy isn't actually dead and so still holds the "official" Slayer line? Because that seems to be logical [but the writing has truly struggled with logic, so who knows?].
The Score: This was a very strong issue, properly building the threat, and then having a shocking loss to emphasize what is at stake.
4.50 out of 5 stars