Picking right up after the events of Hellmouth #4 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer #12, Buffy faces off with the Hellmother wearing an Angel suit, looking decidedly Sephiroth-esque. Things aren’t looking great for her until… well, let’s just say that Buffy’s greatest strength was always that she didn’t fight the forces of evil alone. After the devastating loss of a friend in Buffy the Vampire Slayer #12, Hellmouth #5 establishes the new status quo with what looks to be an even more ambitious scope and a tantalizing look at what seems to be a pretty wild alternate dimension.
Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert close out BOOM!’s “Hellmouth Event” in pretty explosive style. It’s got all of the usual fixins of an epic showdown. Dope action sequences, some incongruous humor thrown in, convenient empowerment of characters that haven’t shown real signs of knowing the pointy end of a blade before, and, ya know… bittersweet victory. A minor gripe with how Angel has been used in this storyline: It ultimately feels rather inconsequential, as if they just needed to have him away from his own series and perhaps just meet Buffy to establish some tension that feels rather unresolved here. As Anya rather bluntly puts it, “He hasn’t done more to help than he has to hurt, but his time’s not up on that.” While the climax is decidedly predictable, it’s the denouement of this arc that really hits home. The world has been changed - whether for better or worse remains to be seen. While Willow’s soul is whole again, her heart seems to be shredded right now. There are now two Slayers, and as Giles learns from Anya, even that may not be enough for what’s to come. Knowledge yields more questions, y’all! Speaking of Anya, her backstory has got to be fascinating, and I can’t wait to see more tidbits dropped along the way. Bellaire also wraps things up with an intriguing stinger of sorts at the very end.
Eleonora Carlini ends her run in fine form. The action bits are really kinetic with some great character work woven in. The exchange between Buffy and Willow is some of Carlini’s best work on the series to date. Marco Renna illustrates the short stinger piece at the end, and his work is definitely a return to a more traditional Buffy aesthetic. Cris Peter and Mattia Iacono split coloring duties, with the former coloring the main story and the latter taking over for the stinger piece. Both colorists’ styles work with their respective sections really well. Ed Dukeshire keeps the story going without ever bogging down the pace, even when there’s plenty of exposition happening. The placement and arrangement of the speech bubbles are intuitive and just really keeps the dialogue flowing.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since BOOM! Studios rebooted the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise. With that milestone in mind, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Fanbase Press’ #StoriesMatter initiative and how and why this rebooted Buffyverse matters to me. In my humble opinion, Bellaire et al. have created a spiritual successor to the original run. While the original iteration had Buffy find her tribe almost right away, this reboot has made her and the Scoobies work harder to stay together, and it would appear that perhaps, just like in real life, sometimes the closest friendships take a break. This reboot has also taken a deeper look at issues that affect teens (presumably the target demographic here), including depression, impostor’s syndrome, and acceptance. BtVS became a cult favorite because of its ability to mirror real-world problems as physical horrors, and if this reboot keeps that in mind, I think it’s well on its way to stake its own way into a new generation’s heart.
Overall, Hellmouth Pt. 5 closes out a 14-issue arc admirably and clearly sets the tone for future directions.
Creative Team: Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert (writers), Eleonora Carlini and Marco Renna (artists), Cris Peter and Mattia Iacono (colorists), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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