Buffy the Vampire Slayer #4 // Review
In comics, it’s common to hear the claim that “this issue, everything changes,” or “after this, nothing will be the same,” but it’s rare to find an example of this that isn’t at least hyperbole. Buffy the Vampire Slayer #4 doesn’t make this claim, but if it had, it would deliver.
Most of this issue is a quiet one, focusing on the rebooted Scooby gang during some rare downtime. The chapter is narrated by Xander’s blog, as several previous segments have been, and it’s clear that he’s feeling, well, like the Zeppo. All of this is ground well trod, not just by previous issues but by the classic TV show as well--until everything goes horribly wrong. Oh, and also Angel shows up.
Writer Jordie Bellaire smartly uses this modernization of Buffy (and the Xander character specifically) to explore masculine entitlement and the pain it causes, and how it can poison an otherwise good person until they become someone or something unrecognizable. Her ear for dialogue continues to be appropriately Whedonesque, as does her use of humor throughout the issue.
Dan Mora’s art elevates the material nicely. His faces and expressions are particularly effective in selling both the comedy and the pathos throughout. Raúl Angulo’s colors continue to be moody and effective. Letterer Ed Dukeshire carries a great deal of the storytelling this issue, as several pages focus on an extended text message thread.
Boom! Studios’ reboot of Buffy has been solid from its start, but it’s this issue that really shows why relaunching the franchise opens up new possibilities in a way that continuing it couldn’t. This issue is a promising surprise; here’s hoping that what’s done here isn’t undone, as it so easily could be.