Boom!Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Writer: Jordie Bellaire, Artwork: Ramon Bachs & Raúl Angulo, Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Page 01: We open at Sunnydale Hospital, where we find Giles and Kendra standing at the edge of Rose's hospital bed. Rose lies in a coma.
Giles asks Kendra about how she is doing, but she blows this off to focus on Rose. He tells Kendra that she can't blame herself for what has happened, but Kendra isn't. Rupert assumes that she must be blaming Buffy, but Kendra denies this as well. She tells him that she is blaming him for how things happened at the Botanical Gardens. She points out that Buffy may be the sword, but Giles is the one who taught her how to swing it.
In other words, Buffy's uncooperative attitude has come from her lack of ability to let someone who knows what they're talking about take point. And that led to Rose getting hurt.
Commentary: I like this page alot for a few reasons. It's nice that more time is being paid toward Kendra to develop her, even though this is Buffy's title, since she isn't going back to Jamaica. And I like seeing the differing dynamic between her and Rupert vs. Buffy and Rupert. I also liked that she is straight-up pinning Buffy's refusal to take Kendra's word that she knows what they're facing due to her own experience on Giles. Where somebody else may've just blamed Buffy, I think it makes sense that Kendra would focus straight on the Watcher due to her own experience with Sam, who was much more demanding that Kendra be disciplined and trust in his experience. Whereas Giles seems to give Buffy a much wider latitude in handling things as she sees fit.
But I also like her comments toward Giles here, because it lines up with my general thinking on this version of Rupert Giles. As mentioned in last issue, I've found this Rupert Giles to be too distant with Buffy - and Kendra, both. This seems especially true, when it comes to Rupert checking in on his primary Slayer's emotional health. Buffy went through the ringer, but Rupert only seems to half-pay attention to how she may be doing in the aftermath of going to hell, and having one of her best friends killed.
Page 02: Giles argues that Buffy is capable, intelligent and economical, which Kendra retranslate as her being reckless, emotional and ignorant. He continues that Buffy is brave, strong and loyal.
Kendra accuses him of being a 'helicoptor-Watcher', only telling Buffy how great she is, when she needs to have a far more critical view of her performance in order to get better [and I'll agree as that would apply immediately... Buffy has to trust her gut, but when another Slayer is straight up telling her that she has fought the very threat that they're facing, she needs to play second-fiddle to someone else's expertise; Buffy needs some solid lesson planning on working in a team environment].
In the hallway, Buffy is standing frozen with flowers and her hand stuck about to knock on Rose's hospital room door - listening. Rupert continues to argue that he provides Buffy with needed positive reinforcement, and while he understands that she may think he has coddled his Slayer, she would say otherwise.
Page 03: Giles goes to exit the room, telling Kendra that he has no trouble accepting that Zabuto was a fine man, and that his training of her in tactics was no-doubt exceptional but that there is more to the Slaying Gig than just the slaying. He opens the room door to find the flowers left on the floor, with Buffy's signed card.
He tells Kendra that being the Slayer means having heart, as well.
Commentary: Which is a nice re-direct, Rupert, but that isn't what the issue has been. It has been Buffy's not wanting to share the spotlight with her Slayage Calling, and as a result, her being unable or unwilling to trust Kendra's instincts - even when Kendra tells her that she recognizes something that she has fought before. That has nothing to do with 'heart', or physical prowess, or loyalty, or bravery or.. or... or....
Kendra is a Slayer. She's been highly trained, too. Buffy is being pig-headed, because she doesn't really like Kendra. And that is leading to tactical mistakes in fight-or-die situations. And that endangers bystanders.
Page 04: We join Buffy later - clearly in a dream. She's riding the back of a large, yellow-orange dinosaur. With her is Xander. She complains that 'Zeppo' doesn't know where they need to go, and he's going too fast. Xander asks her if she even knows where she's going, and she admits that she doesn't.
Page 05: Buffy complains that they're already so late, as Zeppo crashes into the high school. The dino tells Buffy and Xan that they don't need more school when they're both so 'dino-myte!'
They uproar with laughter.
Page 06: Buffy wakes with a start. She goes to text Willow on her weird dream to find out what it could mean, mostly due to missing her so greatly. But, she realizes that this is a silly thing to bother Willow about. On her cell, we see that Buffy had sent Willow a text in regards to Rose being hurt, but hasn't gotten a response.
[As of Willow #02, she is in a hidden village with no phone reception having her own adventure.]
Buffy does some scrolling, and sees a message that has her on high alert, jumping out of her bed.
Page 07: Elsewhere, Jenny is up late. She sharing a glass of wine with herself, while trying to give her cat a tarot reading to her utter disinterest.
She accuses the cat of accusing her of being lonely and insists that she is fine, since her break-up with Giles. Then she self-deprecates by calling herself pathetic.
Page 08: She's interrupted by frantic knocking and doorbell ringing. The cat gets its back up. From outside, someone familiar begs for help.
Page 09: When Jenny opens the door, she finds herself shocked to see Xander Harris. Xan looks fearful as he begs her for help, as he barely escaped from someone. Jenny -- not thinking due to her shock and maybe the wine -- invites him in. And that is a critical mistake. For this Xander Harris is the demonic, vampire Xander. He grabs her wrist, observing that was much easier than he thought it'd be.
Commentary: So, I feel like Xander has been set up to play the Angelus role and I'm feeling ambivalent about this. Since we clearly saw Xan's vampire-body ash away after the soul-tie was returned to its rightful place, this is feeling like a retcon to me. I am relieved that actual-Xander isn't back, because his sacrifice for Willow would be completely undercut otherwise. And I don't exactly object to vampire-Xander being a thing to torment Buffy and threaten her few remaining friends and family. It's just that we saw him ash away, so I'm going to need an explanation for why we couldn't trust our lying-eyes on this one.
I also -- again referring to a comment I made in earlier issues -- wish that this had been put off until later... like, issue 36-40ish. We just lost him, so it'd have been better (imo, and it is my review/commentary) if we'd had a chance for Buffy and Willow to move on from the loss, and then have Xan's vampire-form make its horrible return due to dark magic of some sort. And rather than have him act as Angelus/big bad, have him be serving a greater plan of someone darker and more dangerous. I'd tie it into a crossover with Angel, and have him returning to Sunnydale with his support team. Make it an epic multi-parter tied into the 'Ring of Fire' branding they've got going and relate it back to the fact that the Hellmouth hasn't been properly closed from the first crossover. And then use this to bring Anya closer into the Scooby-fold, with her working/bickering with Lilith.
Page 10: At Giles', Buffy is explaing to he and Kendra [whom I'm assuming she's staying with] about that shocking text she received. It was from - purportedly - Xander, who is supposed to be dead and gone. Kendra immediately pegs it as coming from vampire!Xander.
Page 11: Giles is open to Kendra's interpretation, but Buffy resists that Xan would ever taunt her with such tasteless messages. Kendra throws up her hands in frustration, reinterating that he died as a vampire... 'halvsies or not' and that she needs to quit being so emotional and start thinking.
Page 12: Buffy mentions her dreams involving Xander recently, and Giles reminds her that her dreams could be messages about supernatural things happening around her. He asks her why she didn't bring this to his attention, after her dreams of the Hellmouth proved prophetic, and she offers that the dreams of Xan seemed more personal.
Rupert's cell now receives a message. It's from Jenny's phone, telling him that she's hot and he needs to rush over.
Page 13: Giles doesn't take it as a booty-call, and has Buffy and Kendra accompany him to her place. They find Jenny's entire home engulfed in flames.
Page 14: Rupert tries to stop Buffy from rushing into the fire, but Kendra tells him they can handle it. Both rush through Jenny's burning front door.
Page 15: The girls rush through Jenny's modest home, shouting for her. Buffy falls through the weakened staircase, but Kendra grabs her before she can fall into the fire below.
Page 16: With the ceiling falling in, Kendra makes a leap across the broken staircase, away from Buffy. She lands almost directly into the suddenly-appeared vampire!Xander's arms. He compliments her athleticism and then asks her how she handles falls.
Xander tosses Kendra out the second story window.
Commentary: How Xander isn't being burned is a question. Maybe Boom!Verse Vampires are less combustible than their Prime!Universe counterparts. I'm gonna overlook how close those flames are getting to him.
Page 17: Xander tells Buffy that it's now just he and she, but she tells him only in his dreams [I don't know, maybe he said that faux-seductively] as she kicks a piece of burning timber in his direction. It misses causes more fire between them, so he tells her she's playing hard to get.
Buffy retreats back toward the front door, but the staircase fully gives way. Before she can fall into fire, she's grabbed by the wrist again.
Page 18: It's by Xander... or at least a Xander, who isn't looking vampiric. But Buffy doesn't fall for it, and give him a two-foot kick into the nearby wall. To his offer of it being him and her together, she shouts that she'd rather die.
Page 19: The momentum sends Buffy onto the first floor. She leaps back to her feet to continue the fight against her former friend's body, but vampire!Xan has vanished. She does get an armful of scared Dolly the cat, though. But of Jenny, there has been no sign.
Commentary: This confrontation between Kendra, Buffy and Xander-not-quite-ashed was pretty good. I liked the artwork, especially, but -- I don't know -- Xander/Vampire!Xander feels a little dumb for hanging out in the midst of a raging fire, just to flirt with Buffy and try a seduction vibe. What was the point of that? Just to show her he isn't gone? Because surely his memories of Xander would tell him that Buffy isn't a good target for a seduction attempt, and it isn't like he cleverly tried to pretend to be Xander Harris, back from the dead, first.
It just feels really clumsily handled.
I seem to use the word 'clumsy' a lot when referring to the writing.
Page 20: Back at Giles' house, Kendra is picking thorns from her arms from her tumble into Jenny's rose bushes. Rupert is dealing with the fact that whatever has happened to Jenny, it won't be end up well for her or him.
Page 21: As Giles retreats to shed some tears for now-lost Jenny, Kendra and Buffy commisserate together. Kendra offers Buffy sympathy that she has to fight her former friend.
Page 22: Back at Rose's hospital room, a figure in shadow approaches her bed. It's Willow.
The Good: I liked the conversation between Kendra and Rupert at Rose's bedside, and getting Kendra's view of Buffy.
I also welcome the fact that Vampire!Xander isn't being stealthy and dragging his arc out; His immediate attack on Buffy's support system is good, and I like the scene of him shocking and getting the drop on Jenny Calendar.
I also did like seeing Buffy and Kendra working together solidly when in Jenny's burning house.
The Bad: Nothing.
Other Thoughts: My hesitations about this Vampire!Xan plot are mostly timing related. I just wish we'd gotten time to breathe and for Buffy and Willow to deal with Xander's dying before Vampire!Xan is again unleashed on them.
I also didn't like that Kendra didn't push back against Giles' platitudes about Buffy having heart, when that wasn't the issue and wasn't what Kendra was arguing against.
The Score: It's okay. There is some good stuff in here, but there is also a bit of clumsiness -- especially when it came to Vampire!Xan confronting Buffy in a conflagration.
3.50 out of 5 stars