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After the stunning events of Issue #4, the Scooby Gang tries to recover and deal with a new threat that’s arising within the very halls of Sunnydale High itself.
The Slayer legacy – and the more mystical elements of it – are something I often felt that Buffy the Vampire Slayer the TV series shied away from. Yes the powers were there and the history was there. But aspects like Buffy’s prophetic dreams were often glossed over and used when the series needed them to help tell exposition.
Jordie Bellaire and the BOOM! Studios team has instead leant in to the lesser known aspects of being the Slayer and used them to help enhance the storytelling.
This issue opens with an intense figure sequence in one of Sunnydale’s many crypts as Buffy before exchanging it for another of Buffy’s prophet dreams. However its not long before the series gets to the crux of the issue… the death of Xander Harris.
It feels crazy even writing those words, the death of Xander Harris but that is what this issue is all about.
This issue features some of Bellaire’s strongest storytelling to date. With this issue she is able to tell an emotional tale fitting of the TV series but without any of the tropes of a live action series.
The scripting is so strong as Buffy and Willow both grapple with loss. This is really the first time we’re seeing the Buffy character show serious vulnerability and it’s about time. As they sit by the bedside and listen to their friend belittle them I could almost feel their hearts breaking.
These scene also offers a chance for Jenny Calendar to show a more maternal side towards the kids, something which has been lacking in this opening arc with Giles being portrayed as colder than I remember him being it the series.
There’s some equally interesting interplay between Drusilla and Spike. With their roles reversed, as they were for part of season 2 of the TV series, Spike is in the submissive role and is heavily emasculated by her power. It’s a classic Whedon trope but to play Dru as she was in the series would not fit with the notion that she is going to be the “Big Bad”.
David Lopez takes over artwork duties on this issue and it makes for an interesting change. Character models are a little further removed from the original actors to portray them in the series.
The recognisable features are there but Lopez instead leans towards his own strengths and to something more unique than simply rendering Sarah Michelle Gellar et al. Not that I’m suggesting that is what Dan Mora was doing but his artwork does feature some incredibly strong likenesses.
I couldn’t call either one as my favourite as there are huge strengths to both. But this is one of the best looking issues in the series so far.
Likewise if I had to call a downside to this issue at all it would be the instant quest to try and return Xander back to human form. Whilst I would entirely expect a headstrong Buffy to look for a way to save her friend it would underwrite the franchise entire ethos to have him return to his usual form unscathed.
Whilst that is an unlikely outcome it’s still a fear in the back of my mind because we all know how I feel about lacking consequences!
Another solid issues for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It tugs at the heartstrings of the reader whilst flexing some serious emotional muscle for its characters. This issue also cements the series take-no-prisoner attitudes when it comes to straying from the source material.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #5, is written by Jordie Bellaire with art by David Lopez, colours by Raul Angulo and a cover by Marc Aspinall. The series is executive produced by original series creator Joss Whedon.