Boom Studios’ first Buffy arc got things off to a great start, acting as a modern reboot that introduced us to fresh contemporary takes on our favorite characters. The core of each character is still there, their personalities and the things we love about them haven’t changed, but there are changes and most of them are pretty smart. Willow, for example, is already out and has a girlfriend. Characters like Anya and Robin Wood have also popped up, despite being introduced much later in the original series, so it’s interesting to speculate how things will change having them in the mix from the beginning this time.
The biggest change to the status quo came at the end of issue #4, however, and it’s not something that can be discussed without spoilers as it sets up the whole plot of this issue and the new arc that’s being established. In that issue, Xander got lured into a trap by Drusilla and Spike and was bitten. When we pick up with #5, Xander is in the dying state already in the process of becoming a vampire. There’s some fun to be had here as well, as it’s something we’ve never really seen in the Buffyverse before. Xander will slip in and out while the demon will slip in for a few moments to torment Buffy and Willow with all of the things Xander kept bottled up and hidden that he certainly didn’t want them to know about.
Drusilla’s plan is also made a bit clearer, and it’s interesting to see how that’s going to play out. At this point it looks as if she plans to turn all of the men of Sunnydale into her slaves via some form of mystic dagger mind control. In classic Buffy tradition, that mystic dagger also appears to be on display in Joyce’s art gallery. While enslaving the men of Sunnydale is a little on the nose, it’s also a bit more of a grand and lucid scheme than we would ever have expected from the Drusilla of the original show. But with her dom/sub relationship with Spike, it makes sense. This version of Drusilla seeks much more control than her earlier counterpart on the TV series.
We get our first real interaction with Jenny Calendar here as well, as she’s introducing her pagan side right out of the gate, helping Giles with a spell to keep the demon at bay before it can overtake Xander and fully turn him into a vampire. Of course, some of the fun of speculating here is wondering whether or not Jenny will meet the same tragic fate in this new series as she met on the show. It also looks like we’re building to Buffy’s first meeting with Anya, which I can’t wait to see.
The heart of the issue though, as it should be, is the relationship between Willow and Xander. Their friendship was a constant throughout the show. They’ve been best friends since before kindergarten and that hasn’t changed here. The love between them is deep and powerful and it’s really important as a fan of those characters that the issue doesn’t shy away from allowing Willow to deal with what’s happening, to be confronted with the fact that her best friend in the whole world is dying and that she may have to sit there and watch it happen.
Jordie Bellaire continues to nail the characters’ respective voices while taking the story in new and unexpected directions, just the balance I was hoping for when the book was first announced. David Lopez’ art is moody, dynamic and sets a darker visual tone while allowing the wry sense of pop humor to flourish. Going into the second arc, this book continues to be a breath of fresh air and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #5 is available now.
WICKED RATING: 8/10