Buffy the Vampire Slayer #5 // Review
Five issues in, and the biggest unanswered question about Boom! Studios’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot is who this book is intended for in the first place. The previous issue ended with the shocking event of perennial sidekick Xander Harris being turned into a vampire by classic Buffyverse villain Drusilla. This moment was exciting because it was a huge sign that this reboot (rather than a continuation of the previous years-long continuity) was willing to try new things and go new places by really remixing and reimagining the characters and relationship. Buffy the Vampire Slayer #5, unfortunately, lays the seeds for that shocking decision to be undone.
Taking place both before and after the short story in the Whedonverse Free Comic Book Day issue, this month’s installment focuses on Giles explaining Xander’s new situation to Buffy and Willow and the team taking steps to reverse it. Xander, it turns out, is between life and death, not yet actually a vampire, a situation that creates stakes (pun intended) but takes some of the bite (pun further intended) out of the shock of him getting turned at the end of the previous issue.
Series writer Jordie Bellaire makes a host of baffling decisions with this issue. Most of the exciting action alluded to in this issue--Giles finding Xander left on his doorstep with a note, Jenny Calendar creating a protective barrier around Xander, and even the events of the FCBD story--happen off-panel, making this issue primarily consist of people discussing the situation. Further, the reveal that Giles’ girlfriend Jenny Calendar is a witch is handled entirely without any context or setup--this is, of course, canon from the TV show, but introduced here wholly out of the blue in such a way that could be confusing to non-viewers of the show…but are there any readers of this book who aren’t Buffy fans?
The art by new artist David López (it’s unclear whether López is just filling in or taking the series over) is exciting when the story allows it to be. The panel layout during a brawl between Buffy and some unsuspecting vamps early in the issue is particularly dynamic. Colorist Raúl Angelo and letterer Ed Dukeshire continue to bring their best to the installment as well.
So who is this series for? If it’s an exploration of these characters made relevant by rebooting their situation entirely, then this issue takes a bit of a coward’s way out, backing off on one of the series’ boldest moves. If it’s a clean slate meant to introduce the classic characters and concepts to new readers, then it assumes the audience knows more than they should. Either way, it’s lacking.