Sunnydale is getting busier by the day in BOOM! Studios ongoing “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” series. A few weeks ago, Angel spun-off into his very own ongoing series in “Angel” #0. Author Jordie Bellaire has been mixing up the continuity of the television series and introducing key characters out of the traditional sequence in the “Buffy” comics. Issue #5 also marks the debut of David Lopez. Previously Lopez worked at Marvel with titles like “Captain Marvel.” To complicate matters even further, this issue serves as the prequel for the Free Comic Book Day installment. Will “Buffy” #5 be able to tell a good story while navigating a shared Universe?
Written by Jordie Bellaire
Illustrated by David Lopez
Colored by Raúl Angulo
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
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.
Even though the plot of “Buffy” is starting to get complicated and layered, the title still enjoys the novelty of the premise. The opening scene mines some great one-liners and jokes from Buffy before introducing the larger scope of the narrative. Moments like these also serve to ground the series and show a more naive side to Buffy. Even with a dream sequence and sleepy opening scene, “Buffy” #5 still manages to pack a few important plot beats. For the fifth chapter, “Buffy” is starting to get an insanely big supporting cast. Bellaire has been introducing tons of characters from the television series next to a couple of new cast members for the comic.
This issue deals with the important cliffhanger from the last installment head-on. Xander’s new situation serves as a really interesting development for the plot. The cast of Sunnydale is just starting to develop relationships with each other and Bellaire’s recent twist adds a lot of tension to the narrative. The second half of the issue puts a great spin and shows off some of Xander’s inner thoughts in a horrifying manner. This arc has added lots of tension between these cast members who are all so new in each other’s lives. From the very first issue, Bellaire has managed to get the humor of the series so grounded. Joyce’s final lines of dialogue at the end are both funny and sad, capturing a strikingly poignant final moment.
David Lopez is an excellent choice to switch out for Dan Mora. Lopez’s clean and refined line is a strong pair to Mora’s past work on the series. Lopez is able to get animated with his facial expressions but still shows restraint with adding in greater details. In the second half of the issue, Lopez draws with a darker line that makes faces look inconsistent with how they were rendered before. The sudden change in art from the same penciller is almost jarring with a negative effect. Most of the issue is depicted in the traditionally beautiful illustrated style readers have come to expect with Lopez’s work.
The “Buffy” creative team did a great job folding the Free Comic Book Day story into the narrative in a relatively subtle manner. The book never slowed the plot down or speeded it up just to get to that core moment. It is going to be fascinating to see how BOOM! starts managing the Shared Universe of “Buffy” going forward with “Angel.” Each book has a few threads that tie-into each other that will likely become stronger in issues to come.
The series is already starting to get a really big supporting cast and I’m starting to see some characters lose the spotlight. Antagonists Spike and Drusilla have been working in the shadows since their debut. Giles is starting to come off as underdeveloped. While I can appreciate the limited page space, it would be interesting to see his role expanded on. Giles is an important member of the team and further characterization from this version of the beloved Buffy supporting cast member is needed.
“Buffy” #5 has a strong mix of plot and character beats without feeling too crowded or light on plot. The limited page count in the scripts is having a difficult time juggling the supporting cast members. With the series so early on in the initial run, the title is still working on establishing all the relationships and even restoring a couple from the television series. Artist David Lopez makes a great addition to the interior pages. The issue’s dark script can come off as melodramatic but usually becomes grounded with moments of subtle humor from Bellaire.Continued below
The comic book covers a lot of ground in 22-pages and catches readers up to the present of the “Buffy” property. Due to readers being so early in the series, it still seems that Bellaire is gaining momentum before the comic book is able to strike a large-scale payoff. Bellaire’s scripts have done an excellent job keeping readers interested while the full cast and premise heads towards a climax.
Final Verdict: 7.8 – “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” #5 keeps the narrative interesting while the title gears up for an emotional climax.