Robin Wood is a high school kid with a secret. He's a Watcher-in-training... but not only does nobody know, but he doesn't even have a Slayer.
All that's about to change.
Meanwhile, life surprisingly continues at a relatively normal pace for all of Sunnydale despite the Hellmouth ripping wide open and hordes of demons pouring forth. Willow's ex Rose has a new normal, though, and is struggling to cope with their recent break-up. But destiny's about to come calling...
And that's to say nothing of the new Slayer who just rolled into town...
The other miscellaneous adventures of Buffy‘s supporting cast mosey on in issue ten, with the actual events of “Hellmouth” getting barely more than a cursory mention this issue. Instead, the spotlight falls on Robin and Rose, two tertiary characters who have barely gotten any page time thus far and are nowhere near strong enough to anchor this issue. Robin, at least, has the whole secret-Watcher-backstory thing working for him, but Rose has pretty much just been Willow’s token girlfriend so far in this book and that is amply reflected in the pages of this issue.
Robin’s story, though, does at least get expanded upon in a major way. Out-of-towner Slayer Kendra shows up unannounced (I guess in this reboot there can be more than one Slayer at once without Buffy having died first – writer Bellaire doesn’t bother to explain for sure though) at his house and starts calling him “Watcher.” Kendra’s presence alone presents a major wrinkle in the current narrative; with Buffy currently running around in Hell (with Angel in tow, natch) that makes her to default Slayer to protect Sunnydale. This in and of itself upends the so-called natural order of things, assuming she sticks around once the arc is over.
Robin seems to find his determination and courage and acceptance of his role in light of Giles’ abrogation of his. Throughout “Hellmouth,” he’s been deteriorating mentally, seemingly unable to be anything other than dick who alienates everyone around him. (Incidentally, in artist David Lopez’s hands, he sweats profusely. It’s kind of gross.) But by keeping everyone at arm’s length, he inadvertently creates the perfect scenario for Robin to step up and embrace is destiny.
Lacking in destiny, though – or genuine purpose as a castmember in this book – is Rose, who gets a brief moment to shine by stumbling onto Cordelia’s kidnapping at the hand of another student. Unfortunately, it comes completely out of left field, throwing a spotlight on a character Bellaire has done nothing to justify earning it. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said she’s just been a token character so far. Throwing her into the spotlight – to the detriment of the book’s actual supporting characters, Xander and Willow and Giles – just doesn’t work. There’s no reason for readers to care about her. Maybe if Bellaire and Boom had taken more time to establish these characters and their world before leaping into the event crossover fray, it could have worked. As it stands, though – it’s the opposite of too little, too late. It’s too little too soon. Similarly, the subplot with her stumbling onto the kidnapping of Cordelia comes utterly out of nowhere, and ultimately contributes nothing to either character. It’s the women-in-peril trope for the sake of it.
David Lopez is hit or miss on the art. I didn’t mind his style at first on this book (although following in Dan Mora’s footsteps couldn’t have been easy), but the longer he stays on board, the more egregious and chafing his style becomes. Faces and expressions are contorted and exaggerated to the point of cartoonishness; eyes sometimes bug out of the skull, and for some reason, everyone has a giant vein bulging in their forehead. Oh, and that sweat I was talking about earlier…? Everyone has it. Apparently it’s just how Lopez indicates stress. Again: gross.
As I’ve stated before, Buffy the comic continues to flounder under a lack of focus caused by its lead being shanghaied into the Hellmouth mini. There’s a lot of pieces of a puzzle here – but the reader isn’t given much of an inkling as to what the picture they’re supposed to form is.
Buffy continues to be lost without its title character, choosing instead to focus on tertiary characters to flesh out any variety of subplots. Maybe these issues will look better in hindsight once "Hellmouth" is complete, but for now, they're treading water and in search of deeper meaning... or relevance.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #10: The Secret Life of Robin Wood
Writing - 5/105/10
Storyline - 4/104/10
Art - 4/104/10
Color - 6/106/10
Cover Art - 6/106/10
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