“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” just ended its very first crossover event entitled ‘Hellmouth.’ ‘Hellmouth’ brought in a lot of continuity from the television show and had a couple of key plot points that will serve to change the series. “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” #13 is the first issue that is already teasing a new crossover event called ‘Ring of Fire.’ Will the series be able to retain a level of focus switching off from one crossover event to the other? Also, without regular series artist David Lopez, what kind of visual definition will artist Rosemary Valero-O’Connell bring? Finally, will “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” #13 address the wild cliffhanger from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel: Hellmouth” #5?
Written by Jordie Bellaire
Illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Colored by Raúl Angulo and Eleonora Bruni
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
* After the shocking conclusion to Hellmouth, The Slayer must defend Sunnydale… AND IT’S KENDRA? * But as The New Slayer must confront an all-new threat to the ENTIRE WORLD, she’ll need to pull the Scooby gang together once more after what happened to Buffy… * WAIT…WHAT HAPPENED TO BUFFY? * The next big Whedonverse epic is here!
Instead of addressing the big changes to the continuity in the new “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” Universe after Hellmouth, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” #13 opts to tell an origin story about Kendra. Kendra is another Slayer similar to Buffy who fights vampires and even has her very own Watcher. “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” #13 tells a believable, nuanced origin story for Kendra that sheds light on some of the confusing plot elements from recent Buffy issues to be crowned as one of the best single issues of the series. Writer Jordie Bellaire crafts an origin for Kendra that has a lot in common with the original late ’90s television series.
Bellaire’s script for “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” #13 brings a really simplistic, back-to-basics script for the series. Kendra was introduced in the comic book series as a supporting cast member. Taking the time to flesh out Kendra’s role in the series will enhance the enjoyment of future issues in the series. I hope Bellaire will stop and reflect on issues involving entire characters in future installments of Buffy. Kendra’s tale about being a Slayer in Jamaica who can be called to leave at any moment served to be a gripping character-focused narrative that will strengthen the reader’s enjoyment of the overall series. Bellaire’s incredibly focused and streamlined script is one of the very best in the overall series.
Speaking of series bests, artist Rosemary Valero-O’Connell delivers the best interior art that the pages of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” have ever seen. Valero-O’Connell’s pencils are vividly expressive. Each page has characters emoting heavily. Lots of superhero comics featured stilted expressions in most panels and pages. “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” #13 features reactions that carry a sense of subtext in many of the panels. Zabuto in particular never smiles through a scene. Zabuto is a very conflicted and restrained person. “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” #13 is able to depict Zabuto’s emotions through the artwork alone. Valero-O’Connell’s stone-faced expressions for Zabuto hide the anger and depression bubbling beneath the surface of the script.
The other joy of Valero-O’Connell’s pencils is the incredible page compositions in the issue. Valero-O’Connell toys with the medium of comics and gets rid of panel borders altogether on some pages. Valero-O’Connell uses the negative space of comics to direct the eye to the emotion of the next panel of the issue. The last panel of the issue is a great example of how much emotion the art carries on behalf of the script. Valero-O’Connell’s illustrations of Vampires are particularly beautiful. Valero-O’Connell draws incredibly expressive figures that are contorting their face in a truly horrific manner. Valero-O’Connell draws the setting of Jamaica incredibly well. Kendra is in a completely different environment than Sunnydale which is rendered with beautiful plant life and delicious-looking food.
The ‘Hellmouth’ crossover got a little unwieldy and wasn’t able to touch on all the great aspects the series has built to this point. “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” #13 is finally able to deliver a stronger character-focused narrative that will serve to enrich the core series when we return to our regularly scheduled Buffy programming. Writer Jordie Bellaire and BOOM! Studios have done a great job researching the original series and remixing elements of continuity. Kendra’s supporting cast and character roster are still intact from the television series. Bellaire’s scripting streamlines continuity and Kendra’s history in a poignant manner.
“Buffy The Vampire Slayer” #13 is a great standalone chapter for Kendra. The series dives into an obscure aspect of the original television series. Bellaire picks an interesting time in Buffy continuity to bring Kendra’s past back into the limelight. The chapter can sit comfortably next to issue #7 as one of the best chapters of the comic. Going forward, I hope to see Bellaire take more chances and share more issues focused on single characters. I also hope that Kendra’s role in the main continuity will be better fleshed out in future chapters. Also, seeing some of the cast members from this issue be folded back into the main issue would be a work of magic for Bellaire’s future scripts. Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s hauntingly beautiful illustrations make for the best set of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” interiors yet.
Final Verdict: 9.2 – The elegant interior art and stark script of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” #13 achieve beauty.