BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (2019-) #9 review

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BOOM! Studios)

You can pickup your copy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer #9 now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

A HELLMOUTH TIE-IN! It’s up to the All-New Scooby Gang of Cordelia, Willow and Xander to save Sunnydale. There’s just one problem—the Hellmouth is spreading evil all over Sunnydale, putting everyone under its thrall. As the inhabitants of Sunnydale turn on one another, will the Scooby Gang be enough?

Review

In the midst of a crisis, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, disappears down a side-street this month in order to tell some important stories on its supporting cast. As I discussed in my recent review of Angel #6 what is striking about both these issues is that their supporting casts are able to carry the story whilst the lead is entirely absent.

With Angel that meant building the relationships between those characters. Here in Buffy it’s more about breaking them down.

Despite boasting a much larger cast, Buffy is able to handle all of its characters delicately given that each appears to be in an emotionally difficult position.

What was interesting to me on first read was the lack of distinction between the adult and teen characters. Giles and Joyce both feature heavily but neither’s dilemma feels particularly “adult” over that of Xander and Willow. Conversely Willow’s break-up with Rose and Xander dealing with his inner demons is not treated as immature or juvenile by comparison.

Instead writer Jordie Bellaire treats all the characters as emotional equals. Though their social standing and background differ no character’s circumstances is treated with higher regard than the others. Bellaire’s approach takes inspiration from the work of Joss Whedon in crafting the franchise but treats it with a contemporary elegance befitting of this new version of the story.

That being said, this isn’t the happiest comic book you will read this week. None of these characters is in a good place so prepare to end the book feeling humble about your own issues. The old analogy of demons representing our own social and personal issues is, for the most part, thrown out the window and replaced by real demons.

I felt particularly for Joyce who, in the wake of the previous issues events, see’s herself as a failure as a mother and in business. It’s a far cry from Kristine Sutherland’s portrayal in the TV series but I’m impressed by the level of depth that Bellaire has afforded her across the opening nine issues of the series.

Willow and Xander’s circumstances feel intrinsically tied together following her losing a piece of her soul to keep him from becoming a full vampire. This issue presents both of them trying desperately to hold on to their humanity but it does so from very different angles.

Willow has lost something, a spark of life that she can’t quite put her finger on what it is but without it there seems to be very little left to live for. Breaking up Rose and Willow makes sense from the perspective of the character’s current behaviour but the moment feels a lost as we haven’t spent much time with them in the series to-date. Rose isn’t a well developed character and so there isn’t much emotional connection to her as a person.

Xander’s predicament is more complex in that he doesn’t necessarily understand fully what is happening inside. He was bitten, Willow and Buffy saved him but no he is neither fully human nor fully vampire. In this issue he is described as “unfinished” by a vampire and in many ways its true.

He’s lost his identity but no longer fits fully in to either society to be able to regain it. Once the Hellmouth event ends it will be interesting to see where his character goes. He won’t be able to identify with Angel and neither would he identify with the re-souled Spike. He is the first of his kind – that we know of – and that puts him on an entirely unique path.

The scenes with Giles were the most difficult to identify with in this issue. He seems aggrieved by everything about him. He argues with Xander and then continues to argue with Jenny and comes off the aggressor in both situations. Jenny questions his health and his sanity so I wonder if he is being influenced by an outside force. But for the most part it feels like his character is being written as almost the antithesis of how he was portrayed on the show and it’s not fully sitting comfortably with me.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. A very interesting stinger introduces a new character who can only be Kendra and I’m thoroughly intrigued by who she appears to think is her Watcher.

Well played Bellaire, you have me hooked!

Verdict

BTVS #9 follows in the footsteps of Angel and crafts a solid story around the series’ supporting cast members. With the Slayer lost in the Hellmouth its reassuring to see characters like Xander, Giles and Willow are easily able to carry the book.

7/10

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #9 is written by Jordie Bellaire with art by Dan Mora and colours by Raul Angulo. Cover artwork is by Marc Aspinall.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #9 cover art by Marc Aspinall

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About Neil Vagg 3938 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG