Boom!Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Writer: Jordie Bellaire & Jeremy Lambert, Artwork: Andrés Genolet & Raúl Angulo, Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Marguerite Sauvage
Page 01: We open on an Elven man sitting in a chair made of a tree, surrounded by books. Our man reads to himself, when his attention is grabbed by a 'crack'.
Page 02: Our hero is Weslarion, and the 'crack' was three Gargoyles breaking into his sanctum. They pontificate that he's not been following the rules of the Varguuhl, and so has been sentenced to death. Our hero seems unconcerned by this threat.
Page 03: Weslarion pulls out double swords, and warns that he plays by his own rules. Our hero just dodges a sword swing at his abdomen, when he finds that he's pooped himself a little! Weslarion declares a time-out so that he can go clean himself up, and change his breeches!
Page 04: We're suddenly with a gentleman in glasses surrounded by a library of books. Weslarion turns out to be a fictitious creation on his laptop. Our laptop belongs to Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. And his fiction didn't actually include his character pooping himself, but is a recent change to his document by Ethan Rayne, who is a ghost and chooses to pettily torment him. Wes complains about Ethan's focus being on always messing with him.
Ethan is actually there to remind Wesley that he's late for a Council Meeting, however.
Commentary: So. Already, we've got some issues here in regards to continuity across this alternate 'verse. In the Angel issue which I'm about to post the review for, Angel makes it clear that ghosts in this 'verse aren't able to affect the physical universe, except for very specific circumstances - like righteous anger to avenge your own murder. Here, though, Ethan is able to affect the physical universe for nothing more than whimsy.
In addition, like with new Buffy as a whole -- we're not being given any proper introduction to Ethan Rayne or Wesley and their history because we already know both from original-Buffy, and that is seen as enough. Hopefully, we'll get some additional information about Ethan, since his death came in the BTVS-comics, and so can't be short-cutted in this reality --- or so I would pedantically assume.
Page 05: Wes makes no friends by barging through his co-workers to get to the emergency meeting that he is currently in the process of missing. Ethan follows along behind him.
Ethan's goal appears, at least, to be benign. He spends his time in the corridor prompting Wes to speak up when he feels the others are wrong and to not let himself be railroaded into following outdated ideas by group-think.
Page 06: Our Council Headwoman has the meeting in progress, where they're discussing the situation with 'Summers' and 'Young'. She mildly complains about the two Slayers. She's far more critical of the Watcher, Diedre's faliure to mold young Mr. Wood into a proper Watcher, and allows that they can still make something good come from the debacle if they play things right - as he's still involved in the Slayers' business as boyfriend to Buffy.
She turns attention to a pressing matter, and the actual reason for such an emergency meeting: She reports that they've lost one of the Council.
Commentary: I found it interesting that Travers isn't anywhere to be seen this time out. And I like that Wes' time with the Council is being fleshed out this way. I also like the peek into the otherwise-remote Watchers Council, since in the previous sources, they always seemed impotent and hostile toward Buffy and Faith. Seeing what they're actually doing, when not causing trouble for Sunnydale is a nice change.
Page 07: [I'm skipping forward a few pages to reveal our Councilwoman's name is Dorothy, so I can use it.]
Dorothy reveals that the Watcher who was murdered was the man who oversaw the previous Slayer, before Buffy was activated and Rupert Giles took over. She further reports that this is the third Watcher killed in a little more than a year, strongly suggesting that someone is targeting them. She assigns a team of three Councilmembers to immediately being an investigation into the deaths, including Diedre - who gets another dig in her direction.
Wes speaks up to ask about the Slayers.
Page 08: Under Ethan's supportive prodding, Wes suggests that the current policy of not informing the Slayers of internal Watchers business when there is a clear threat may be a disservice to them in the field. But seeing the severe frown on Dorothy's face causes him to immediately backtrack on the comment. He instead tells her that he, of course, disagrees with a policy change. He states that he did feel the need to bring it up, in order to clarify that the current policy stands and provide resolution to their mission of protecting the future and the greater good.
While this receives angry scowling from Ethan's ghost, Dorothy agrees with him that any risk to the Slayers are permissible, including the holding back of information to only internal Council sources.
Diedre is thrown under the bus again, as she was one of the original suggesters that the Slayers should be more well informed of threats the Council comes across - even if not immediately actionable by them. She left deflated at the council table, as everyone else basically play yes-men to Dorothy -- none more so than Wes.
Commentary: Also, interesting? That nobody in the heart of the Watchers organization can detect a ghost who isn't being shy about hanging around in their most heavily fortified rooms.
Page 09: Dorothy tells the others that it was necessary to raise the point, in order to clarify standing orders and she thanks Wesley for doing so. Ethan tells Wesley that he's a vapid lapdog.
In the hallway after the meeting, Ethan degrades Wes for is always imagining 'playing by his own rules', but when the moment comes to do so, he's feckless.
Wes gives us some details about Ethan, telling the spirit that he is sorry that he died young without ever completing his Watcher training. He also says that he's sorry that Ethan is stuck with thinking that Rupert Giles had a hand in his death, whatever happened but he's confused by Ethan choosing to haunt him.
He asks why he isn't bothering someone more senior in the organization, perhaps even Dorothy, since she's the one with the power to set rules in the Council.
Page 10: Ethan angrily tells Wes that he has the potential to champion change within the organization. He writes off Dorothy as far too set in her old thinking to start seeing the Slayers as more than robots to command.
Ethan all but demands that Wes help the Council to update their thinking. He urges Wes to go to California and speak directly to Rupert, despite his own misgivings about seeing Giles again. The argument is suspended by Wes, when he suddenly points out that Watcher Stephen was watcher to Slayer Morgan at the time she was killed. Which seems a non-sequitor to Ethan. But something in regards to this data point has Wesley in a tizzy and he rushes off to the library to research something.
Commentary: Okay, by this point, I'm onboard with this unusual relationship setup between Ethan and Wes and the involvement somehow in the Rupert/Ethan backstory. And I liked the sudden reveal of Ethan wanting the Slayers to not be treated as automatons by the Council. Even though naturally, I suspect ulterior motives from Mr. Rayne -- a much more personal goal of some sort to explain his haunting.
Page 11: Wes' research reveals a concentration of Watcher/Slayer related death in Ohio, centered around Cleveland, except for one kill-spot in MD.
[Though I must object to nobody having noticed that already. I mean everyone is getting killed in one of two bordering states of the U.S.'s? That seems to stand out.]
Page 12: Wesley sums up the group of events: Someone in Cleveland kills Council contact Charles Burke. At some point Slayer Morgan Palmer is slain in the same city. Some short time later, Council Intelligence Agent Raquel Bennet is killed in Maryland. And Raquel was the intelligence agent assigned to assist Watcher Stephen Reilly - Watcher to Morgan - just prior to his moving to Cleveland to oversee his Slayer's activities. A little over a year later, and Stephen is also murdered.
Page 13: Wes digs further into Stephen's itinerary prior to his death, and finds that he had gone to Bowie, MD after Morgan's death - presumably to visit with Raquel - with her being killed shortly after. With digging into Stephen's activities, Wes further develops their timeline: Someone in Cleveland kills Morgan Palmer first. Shortly afterward, Charles Burke is murdered, also in Cleveland. Stephen Rielly travels to Bowie, MD to presumably meet with intelligence operative, Raquel Bennett. He is presumably followed, and shortly after his visit, Raquel is killed. For reasons as yet unexplained, it is quiet for a year, where Stephen had his life working as a Council asset, still. Then, he has now turned up murdered, too.
Everyone was involved in Morgan Palmer's Slayer career in some capacity around Cleveland.
Page 14: Ethan jumps to the conclusion that Morgan, et. al.'s murderer may be targeting the Slayer and her support, meaning Rupert Giles, Buffy Summers, Kendra Young, Robin Wood and anyone else that could be seen as being part of the Slayer support structure is in danger. He urges Wesley to go immediately to Sunnydale.
Wes takes things more methodically, however, and heads to the head librarian's desk instead to speak with Edmunds. He's busy collating and entering the information still coming in from Stephen Rielly's tenure as Council asset in Cleveland.
Wesley in particular is concerned with anything that may've been missing from Stephen's belongings that should've turned up by now. Edmunds can report that the inventory listing of Stephen's residence didn't include his computer and their encrypted hard drives.
His inquiry is interrupted by the arrival of Dorothy, who is impressed that Wesley is working so hard into the night.
Commentary: So, I found the exact nature of Burke to be confusing. Was he a Watcher? Was he assigned to Cleveland as a matter of their having agents all over the country, until Stephen arrived to take over due to the Slayer being activated there?
The explanation for the sequence of events was also confusing me a bit, so I'm glad that Wes listed it out for me. I kept losing track of when Mr. Burke was killed in relation to when the Slayer had been. But despite my own fuzziness on the matter, I like the way this was written to show off Wesley in non-bumbler/toady mode. It's nice that the Council and Its members are being shown to actually do things competently from time to time. [I feel like S7 of Buffy tried to give them a little dignity right at the end, before Caleb blew up the Council and killed 'em all.]
And even though I find it poor writing that only Wesley would put the real obvious suspicious deaths concentrated in one area, among a suspiciously small group surrounding the dead Slayer, in context - I do like the mystery being set up that will get Wesley and Rupert in the same place to figure out what is going on, and by whom, before Giles is killed next.
Page 15: The reason that Dorothy is wandering the grounds turns out to about finding Wes, actually. She informs Wesley - misinterpreting his working in the library as being to assauge feeling slighted by not being in the investigation group - that she would've assigned him to research the deaths of the Watchers, but she has a more important task that she believes he's the best man for.
She tells him that this information is to be kept to a select few at the moment.
Page 16: Dorothy reveals that a third Slayer has been activated. This is shocking and unprecedented. But just as Kendra was activated due to Buffy being off-Earth inside of the Hellmouth, when Kendra went in after her, she too was 'registered' as dead.
Wes berates himself for not guessing that Kendra fighting with Buffy within the Hellmouth would have this exact affect, but Dorothy tells him that they were all taken offguard [presumably, Giles' updates to the Council are in nearly real time after each event -- maybe he even does so nightly].
Page 17: Dorothy has felt for awhile that Wes' talents should be better utilized, but has been putting off sending him away from HQ. Now, she's decided is the time for Wesley to enter the field. She has further decided that Wes will take the Watcher's duty for this third Slayer.
She tells Wesley that they all are instruments to serve the greater good, and that his time has now come to do so. Wes imagines his character, Weslarion, standing tall and heroic to protect the weak and innocent.
Page 18: Wesley, being utterly taken with her trust in him, starts to pledge his devotion to being the Council's sword, its shield... before Dorothy thanks him, and mercifully shuts him down.
She warns that according to early reports, this particular Chosen One is even more of a difficult charge than usual, with severe lone wolf tendencies. She offers that they need their best to wrangle her into her duty.
Wes' display of boot-licking only gets sickened looks of revulsion by ghost-Ethan.
Commentary: I like the direction we're moving in, with being able to follow several Slayers, but I really wish that Kendra had her own Watcher. I want to see the three Slayers headquartered in Sunnydale, but having three different Watchers trying to manage the Hellmouth's guardianship. Especially, technically, you'd think that either Buffy would remain the Hellmouth's primary guard -- or that third Slayer [they don't mention Faith's name, so it's still possible they're going to introduce someone else] would be expected to take over that task. It'd be neat to have a three-way argument over who has primary responsibility for what.
And I'd really like to have a BTVS-comic be more of a 'Tales of the Slayer' anthology - as that would be entirely different - with Buffy, Kendra and Third having their own individual arcs under the umbrella of Buffy's title [i.e. DO NOT INTRODUCE ANOTHER DAMNED TITLE I NEED TO (over-)PAY FOR].
Page 19: Later in Wes' room, as he's packing, Ethan rages that Wes was supposed to be an instrument of change for the Council from within the Council. He's incensed that Wes just agreed to Dorothy's request without even thinking about it.
Wesley argues that he has thought about it, being called to Watch over a Slayer is all he has thought about as the ultimate duty of any Council member. He feels that this is his best shot at actually making a difference. But Ethan isn't mollified, as he's making a difference for THEM. The backward-thinking old guard that Ethan so despises [for reasons unexplained yet]. He warns Wes that he has no idea what he is in for by risking himself out in the field.
Page 20: The next day, Wesley is congratulated on his assignment by the other Council Table members. He's escorted to the private jet by Dorothy herself, and presented with a former Watcher's 'stake of honor' and complimented on his reliability and thanked for taking on this important duty for the Council.
Page 21: While Wes imagines this as all part of the evolving tale of becoming Weslarion, his first steps in America are bumbling and almost gets his ass kicked by some sports fans who he inadvertantly insult over their wounds that their team just lost badly.
He's berated as an embarrassment by ghost-Ethan. He's able to make an escape before any physical violence happens, though, meeting a driver in front of the airport for his transport to a safehouse.
Page 22: It turns out, that he didn't actually escape danger though. His driver fangs out right after getting Wesley into the car!
Our vampire flies over the driver's seat, to tackle Wes in the back. But Wesley is prepared for a fight, by having the stake that Dorothy gave him close to hand. He stakes his attacker.
Ethan commisserates that they both seem to have walked into they-know-not-what.
The Good: Ethan's undercutting "Weslarion" was amusing. As was Ethan, overall.
I appreciated the balancing act with Wesley between his being a slightly bumbling, and toadying sycophant to actually being a talented Watcher who can hold his own when it's needed.
I do like Ethan maybe -- maybe -- actually having the heart of a Watcher and wanting to protect the Slayers more by reforming the Council, even though he can't do it himself since he's dead.
I also like the mystery introduced of the former Slayer's death and the murders surrounding her support staff, and how it'll tie into Buffy and Rupert.
The Bad: Nothing, I think. Everything irritating about Wes is deliberate, and it isn't taken to comedic extremes, so he doesn't come across as a cartoon.
Other Thoughts: I am really ambivalent about the three-Slayers thing going on. Is it interesting to think of Kendra meeting Faith, who is even more of a wild child than Buffy? Sure, of course. But it is also awfully fan-fictioney. And, I don't like the thought of it being so easy to fill the world with Slayers. It was awkward to deal with in BTVS S8, etc. and I'm not sure it's wise to revisit the idea. I'm hopeful though, that we're going to eventually be introduced to some bad byproduct of the Slayers existing where there is only supposed to be one.
I also really, really want Giles to not be Watcher to Kendra and Buffy both. There should be three Watchers for three Slayers. And it would be fun to have the Watchers clashing as often as the Slayers do.
The Score: I didn't start off liking this one, what with just throwing dead Ethan in there without explanation. But it grew on me as it went, with a right balance of humor and drama.
3.50 out of 5 stars