In the wake of "Hellmouth," everything has changed. Xander is dead. Willow has left town. A second slayer, Kendra, has made Sunnydale her home. Everyone is trying to adjust to the new normal. Bereft of her best friends, Buffy is trying to start a new friendship with former Watcher-in-training Robin Wood...
She's also having to share Giles and training time with Kendra, and the fit is somewhat awkward.
Her mother's overprotectiveness isn't making it any easier.
Buffy isn't the only one having a hard time, though. Giles and Jenny's relationship is on the rocks, too!
With all this change afoot - not to mention Sunnydale being vulnerable to even more evil than ever thanks to the events of "Hellmouth," it's a wonder Buffy can function at all! Good thing Robin's there to give her a shoulder to lean on...
The last few months have been rough on both Buffy and Buffy. No sooner did this reimagined world of Sunnydale’s favorite slayer get rebooted for the 21st century, than the title’s main character was abruptly yanked away from the pages of her own book for seven issues and thrust into a hastily-planned crossover with Angel, creating huge issues of focus for this title – or rather, lack thereof. It might not have been such a bad thing, had the title itself been around longer and been allowed to develop and flourish a bit. But that wasn’t the case, and Buffy was suddenly about the supporting characters, not the star. Not exactly a strong way to start a series with a fiercely devoted fan following who are more than a bit overprotective and perhaps a bit jaded about the notion of a reboot.
With all that in mind, I’m happy to report that writer Jordie Bellaire seems to be moving swiftly to get this book back on track with this issue. The focus is 100% Buffy, and as if to hammer that point home, the first page is a nine-grid character study by new series artist Julian Lopez (not to be confused with former series artist/current cover artist David Lopez) that is, essentially, a character study for the artist but also a firm reminder of who this series is about:
Before seguing more deeply into the story, though: THAT looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar. Kudos to Boom for hiring an artist who draws the characters to look like who they’re supposed to look like in Julian Lopez. That’s not meant as a knock to previous artist David Lopez, but his loose, cartoony style wasn’t conductive to translating these characters very well. (Key example: It’s telling that at the end of issue eleven, I had no idea if I was looking at Buffy or Anya.) That sort of thing isn’t just frustrating as a reader, but it’s distracting, too. (On the counterbalance, David Lopez’ cover for this issue is simply amazing.)
Moving on, if Bellaire’s mission statement was to upend the slayer’s world with this reboot, then mission accomplished. Without the familiar supports of Willow and Xander at her side, it’s up to newer and/or reimagined characters Robin Wood, Rose, and Kendra to fill the void left by the now-non-existent Scooby Gang. Bellaire does a good job of making them likeable and interesting. Robin, especially, has an interesting slant as a former Watcher-in-training who just happens to be ripe boyfriend material. Rose’s dynamic with Buffy is a little more fraught, since she’s Willow’s ex, but I’m glad she’s being given space to breathe and flourish as a character in her own right rather than as an appendage to Willow.
In a lot of ways, not a lot happens in Buffy #14. But that’s by design. This issue is all about the characters, and Buffy in particular. It’s about getting back to basics, refocusing, and just giving everyone time to adjust to the new status quo post-“Hellmouth.” And that’s great, because some focus is exactly what this title has been lacking for over half its run now. Welcome back, Buffy. You’ve been missed.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #14 is a quiet, character-driven issue that lets everyone settle into the new status quo. With gorgeous art, this issue is a great jumping-on - or jumping back on - point for new and lapsed reader alike.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #14: Moving On
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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