Boom!Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Writer: Jordie Bellaire, Artwork: Julian Lopez, Moisés Hidalgo, Raúl Angulo, Francesco Segala, Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: David López
Page 01: We open on a page of Buffy facial expressions, as she monologues about how she feels in the aftermath of the Hellmouth, and returning to some semblance of normality. She tells us that we need to move forward, even after what happened. And though she's missing Willow greatly, she's finding new friendships.
Commentary: Correct. She doesn't mention Xander. A slip by Jordie, or is Buffy just not ready to face that more permanent loss?
Page 02: The friendship she's referring to is Robin's. They're in the TunaVerse restaurant, sitting over the remains of their meals.
Buffy talks about how time felt different in the Hellmouth, what with so much having gone on while she wasn't on Earth. She's also finding it difficult to cope with Robin having been a Watcher-in-Training, and how she didn't have the first clue. He offers that she wasn't supposed to know. Buffy asks if Robin knew that she was The Slayer.
Page 03: He denies this, but she doesn't quite believe him. She assaults him with paper football, using french fries. Robin tries to turn attention to how Buffy is actually, in the aftermath of what she went through, but she blows this off as wanting to move forward. He offers that these dates of theirs is supposed to be about her 'being real' with stuff.
This leads to a bit of awkward, as Buffy insists - nicely, but emphatically - that these aren't dates in the traditional sense. Robin assures he wasn't using the word in that sense, and they're totally, platonic friends.
Page 04: He and Buffy josh a bit to ensure they're on the same page with no romantic stuff. Robin turns conversation to Kendra, and why Buffy isn't hanging out with her more. Buffy only offers that she's... a lot.
Buffy offers that she's sure that Kendra is cool and all, but it's weird to not be the only one anymore. Robin jokingly offers that maybe it's more that Kendra is disciplined, reliable and serious. But he also tells Buffy that he saw how hard it was for her when she was trying to take over the role that was supposed to be only her in Sunnydale. He starts to offer a worry about the two of them, but Buffy has to cut him off to run because she's lost track of the time, and she's running late, now.
Commentary: I liked this conversation, but I also really wanted more out of it. There are hints from Robin's side that Buffy hasn't been actually sharing things she's feeling, and is covering with joking around instead. But, since we didn't really get a proper buildup of their relationship before the Hellmouth, I just kept wondering about his assumptions. In fact, I continue to feel like the Hellmouth business came too quickly, because none of the relationships - with maybe the exception of Jenny and Giles - were fully fleshed out, first.
Not seeing all of the friendship moments in panels here and there is forcing a 'reading between the lines' that there was more development off-panel, which doesn't entirely work to get us invested in these relationships.
Page 05: Buffy gives Robin an unexpected hug. She tells him that she really needs these weekly meetups to talk. He promises he'll continue to be there.
Page 06: Buffy comes into her evening appointment with Rupert, offering that she's surprised to not find Kendra already there. But the other Slayer is, she just wanted to see if she could get the drop on Buffy, and was successful.
Buffy snits. Kendra snits back. Rupert tells them that despite the charm and entertainment value of their petty bickering, if they could just not that would be cool.
Page 07: Giles has called them there to address the fact that the Hellmouth's recent closure has not ended the threat that it represented, according to Anya. Buffy around-about shows her annoyance that Giles knew Anya wasn't just a shopkeeper and didn't share the info. But her attention is taken by Giles informing her and Kendra that there are many, many other Hellmouths that could also activate.
Buffy asks how many times she'll -- Kendra interrupts to offer 'we' -- will have to deal with super-threats.
The upshot is that Buffy keeps using "I" and Kendra keeps interrupting with "We".
Commentary: I like this bit between Buffy and Kendra, because despite Buffy's having friends that knew about her Slayer stuff, it's clear she still has the one-girl mindset. While Kendra, despite being alone mostly in Jamaica, was an integral part of the small team with her Watcher. Kendra sees herself as one member of a unit. Buffy sees herself as The Unit. It's an interesting dynamic, since one may expect their positions to be reversed based on their upbringings.
Page 08: Giles offers that unfortunately the threats that other Hellmouths may cause is still too vague. He asks Buffy, as the only one to have first hand knowledge of a Hellmouth up close, what they should focus on. Buffy offers that they should prepare go-bags, since she was stuck fighting in fish-net stockings.
That wasn't actually what Giles was focused on and both he and Kendra offer her judgey looks. Buffy offers that she was being serious, and that at least she's going to have a bag on standby with proper fighting attire in case they have to run around the world fighting Hellmouth openings.
Page 09: The particulars of Hellmouth dimensional fighting is interrupted by Joyce arriving to pick up Buffy, unexpectedly.
Rupert accommodates Joyce, but Buffy is less than thrilled with her mother dropping in to give her rides home.
Page 10: Joyce, over-friendily maybe, offers Kendra a ride home too, but it's declined. After the two Summerses make it out of the library, Kendra brings up the weird vibe with Joyce. Rupert fills her in that Buffy's mother doesn't know about the Slayer gig. It takes Kendra aback, since her entire family knew that she had to be whisked away to fulfill her duty.
Giles makes a right turn by telling Kendra that he was sorry to learn about her personal history, and that it shouldn't have happened. He offers that he will be there for her. She points out that he's not her actual Watcher, but Giles points out that Robin has been suspended indefinitely by the Council, so he'll fulfill his role for her as well as Buffy.
He offers that she can trust him.
Commentary: I liked the part with Joyce here, but this turn in the conversation between Kendra and Rupert felt awkward and shoehorned in. We didn't need a reminder that Robin isn't a Watcher at this point [and he never should've been - it was a stupid idea], and it didn't make sense to me to bring up Kendra not officially having a Watcher if they also weren't going to discuss why Sam isn't coming over from Jamaica or mentioning the Council reviewing candidates for the position, or pointing out that the Council has decided that Giles IS going to be her Watcher, or mentioning that Kendra may be returning to Jamaica since Buffy is still on-duty over Sunnydale.
Kendra staying in Sunnydale, even though Buffy isn't dead, isn't properly addressed here and really should've been - even if it was only with a few lines of dialog.
Page 11: Joyce tries to engage Buffy is some conversation about her day at school, but Buffy is withdrawn and annoyed. She tells Joyce that she needs to stop acting so weird.
Page 12: Joyce is dealing with her own trauma over the Hellmouth-Sunnydale-falling-apart by trying to be much more involved in Buffy's minute-to-minute comings and goings. Buffy had explained her missing during the Hellmouth-escapades as having been on a field trip, that she apparently didn't remember to tell Joyce about. But Buffy is also dealing with her own trauma and wants space.
Joyce is hovering. Buffy is denying how bad things were.
Page 13: Later that night, in an obvs dream, Buffy is wandering down a darkened corridor at school. She sees a different Buffy, and she's making out with Xander. Xan goes into fang-mode as he snears in real-Buffy's direction.
Page 14: Real-Buffy starts sobbing, while dream-Buffy also fangs out on her. Dream-Buffy asks real-Buffy if she thought she was the only one.
Buffy wakes up with a start. She whispers Xander's name, before sobbing into her sheets.
Commentary: Whew. I'm so, so glad that Xan's death is shown to have had an impact on Buffy, too. And I like that it's also tied with Buffy having met an alternate self who had things go badly. We can't know, but seeing her alternate self may have been the first time that Boom!Buffy actually had to confront that she may lose a fight, and that the consequences could be worse than just dying.
These two events - seeing firsthand what could happen to her, and losing Xander after fighting for him - should be plaguing her, so I really welcomed this short sequence.
Page 15: In the meantime, Giles is with Jenny in his bedroom. Jenny is restless and withdrawn. Rupert wants to help her with dealing with what she went through during the Hellmouth business, and wants to reassure her that what she saw of him (presumably -- this could've been scripted much better), wasn't really him. But this isn't what Jenny is focused on. She tells him that she keeps thinking about Buffy and Kendra.
Page 16: Jenny's problem is a bit of guilt and resentment toward Giles for even being a Watcher. She feels the deep unfairness that he could have a whole life while on the sidelines of the fight against evil, while for Buffy and Kendra, it's all they get. They don't get a husband and children someday. They barely get to have a life at all, outside of thinking about and training for fighting for their lives.
Rupert tries to get Jenny to realize how much he cares about those things, too, and that he has tried to make sure that Buffy has time to enjoy other aspects of life. But for him, she (and now Kendra) are duty-bound as Chosen Ones.
Jenny can't deal with what Rupert does anymore, not to two young teen girls, when they deserve to have so much more for themselves. She walks out, telling Rupert that she can't be a part of it.
Commentary: We've seen some of these uneasy feelings about Buffy's role and Rupert's being kinda-a-hardass Watcher, so this isn't coming from left field. But, this is another bit of relationship drama that would hit harder if we'd gotten many more moments of buildup in the affair between them, before the Hellmouth came along and revealed the cracks.
Page 17: That day in school, Buffy is in chemistry class and gets teamed up with Rose for a lab experiment. They awkwardly ask after how they're each doing. Rose brings up showing Kendra around Sunnydale, and asks after Buffy's trying to get to know her.
Page 18: Discussion, even awkward ones, probably wasn't the best of ideas. Buffy nearly accuses Rose of trying to pick up Kendra and Willow has barely left for her academic exchange. Rose tells her to mind her own business, and also informs her that Willow left her long before she left Buffy, so Rose has had time to deal with it.
Rose sighs that she and Buffy used to get along, so it would be nice if they could just be friends. But Buffy offers that her friends tend to disappear on her, so she wouldn't recommend it.
The conversation results in one or both of them doing something wrong, and the experiment goes into a chemical meltdown. They both earn an 'F' for the day, because of their lack of teamwork.
Page 19: That night, Buffy is hanging outside of the TunaVerse. She texts Willow... again. It turns out that she had also texted Robin that it was an emergency that they meet up.
When Robin gets there, he's flabbergasted when Buffy just dumps on him that she doesn't want to do these meetups anymore. Buffy accuses him of someday bailing on her, just when she needs him, so she just wants to cut this friendship off now, rather than later.
Page 20: Robin tries to reason out what is suddenly happening with her, and Buffy shouts that Willow totally left her there all alone.
He tries to make her see Willow's side, and how hard it was for her when things went pear-shaped around town. But Buffy can only focus on her own sense of betrayal at losing her best friend. And, she lost Xander because she screwed up in the Hellmouth (somehow... I'm not sure how she thinks she could've stopped anything that happened). She tries to walk away forever.
He stops her by more promises that he's never going to bail out on her. He kisses her forehead.
Commentary: Okay. Uhm. I hated this breakdown scene. I hated Buffy's not even acknowledging that Willow basically had to kill Xander to reclaim her soul-tie in order to get control over herself from the magic she tapped. I hated that Xander's death is all about her, when Willow and he had been best friends forever. I hated the "everyone bails on me", when in fact, there has been one bailer - Willow - and she explained why she needed to get away from Sunnydale and it is 100% understandable.
I'm assuming that Willow's not returning texts, which sucks and yes - Buffy has the right to be angry about that aspect. But then turning that into everyone else's problem was really self-involved and petty. Which okay - can describe stereotypical teen behavior, but Buffy isn't a stereotypical teen.
And I didn't like Robin's "I'm the nice guy, dammit and I need you" feel to his dialog, either. I don't think that was what was supposed to be coming across, but that's what it sounded like to me. I hated this whole page.
Page 21: The peck on the forehead turns into a full-blown kiss on the lips.
Page 22: Meanwhile, somewhere else, Willow can't return any text messages even if she were so inclined. She finds herself in a field, having just teleported or phase-shifted in with a bright dome of light and sound.
She smiles to herself. "Seems about right," she observes.
EDIT: So, I'm pretty sure that I was wrong about this last page, now. Going by Willow number 1, I now think that Willow's bright, happy "seems about right" was actually a comment on how Willow had thought that going to England for her study program was turning over a new leaf & leaving the Hellmouth behind her. Which was naive and doomed. Clearly the sound & lights were Willow's perceptions of being in a new place, and not a mystical thingie AT ALL. I blew that interpretation -- again, going by Willow, issue 1.
The Good: First, I like that the Hellmouth opening is having lasting repercusions on our principals and second tier characters.
I'm liking the dynamic between Buffy and Kendra, especially how it's Kendra who sounds reasonable and Buffy who is coming across as petty.
I really liked the nightmare with Xander Harris, because it was feeling like Buffy kinda forgot him. Instead, it's something she's avoiding deliberately and it's haunting her.
I did like the little interchange between Rose and Buffy.
The Bad: I dislike everything about Robin's character. But, I don't know how to fix him at this point, except a convenient mass amnesia, so we can stop talking about his backstory.
I hated the entirety of Buffy's self-involvement over Willow's having needed escape from Sunnydale -- and how Xander again isn't mentioned by name as the entire reason Willow may've needed to get out for a while. And the interaction leading to the Robin/Buffy kiss felt awkward and uncomfortable to me.
Other Thoughts: As far as Kendra goes, there are problems with how she's expected to remain in Sunnydale at all with Buffy not dead but more than that is nobody talking about how to deal with an official Watcher for her. It's awkward.
I have very mixed feelings on the Rupert/Jenny drama.
Also... really mixed feelings on the Buffy/Robin drama -- but I'm leaning negative.
The Score: 3.0 out of 5 stars