As the events of "Hellmouth" continue to unfold, the residents of Sunnydale cope with them in their own - generally unhealthy - ways. Willow, sans half her soul, self-destructs her current relationship...
Xander and Giles bicker...
And then, Giles and Jenny Calendar bicker and self-immolate their relationship.
With Buffy inside the Hellmouth, what can the Scoobies do to marshal their forces when they're coming apart at the seams themselves?
Buffy #9 reads like a comic that’s completely forgotten the plot. “Hellmouth” kicked off two issues ago, and yet, it’s gone absolutely nowhere in the time since. The main story has segued into the Hellmouth miniseries, leaving this title to spin its wheels, not moving the overarching plot forward one iota. Worse still, each of the Scoobies has turned into the worst version of themselves.
The problem is that this title has been so hot and heavy to move into “big event story” territory as quickly as possible, the individual characters haven’t had time to band together and become the likeable family fans know them to be. So now, when Sunnydale needs its heroes the most, they’re all separated individually, falling apart or sniping at one another. Giles, especially, has gone so far off the rails that he honestly doesn’t even seem like himself. He doesn’t care that Joyce was almost killed when Drusilla attacked the museum? And he would willingly – easily, even – let Jenny Calendar suffer a worse fate for the greater good? That’s not Giles. That’s the Watchers’ Council, the very institution Giles would eventually rebel against. The Giles presented in this issue is an ugly, cracked-mirror version of Buffy’s Watcher.
So little time has been spent developing these characters that it’s hard to care about their personal struggles. Willow’s current relationship is falling apart because of the loss of half her soul, but this issue doesn’t even bother to name her girlfriend. Readers are just expected to care because it’s written that way. Similarly, Xander is struggling with the fact that he’s been partially sired (don’t ask, it’s weird) and will slowly lose his humanity – but the comic has been so busy accelerating toward “Hellmouth,” it hasn’t taken the time to explore what these current circumstances really mean for the character.
And then there’s “Hellmouth” itself, an even that’s supposedly big and world-changing, but has completely receded into the background for this issue. The Hellmouth itself is cracked open, with all Hell pouring forth, and the characters are responding with a sense of urgency akin to the stoplights at Sunnydale’s main intersection being out of commission. There’s no rallying cry, no banding together, no real sense of crisis. Just a bunch of unlikeable versions of characters fans know and love moping around and not doing anything at all to fight evil.
David Lopez’s art is passable, but readers would be hard-pressed to recognize Willow or Giles as the actors they’re supposed to be portrayed as. It’s a little too loopy and soft-edged for the world of Sunnydale, or at least at this juncture. Dan Mora’s art in the opening arc fit the world wonderfully: the characters all looked like who they’re supposed to. Lopez – who is a talented artist, make no mistake – would be better suited to a story that’s less cannon and more “Tales of the Slayers.” As it is, trying to reconcile who we’re supposed to be looking at versus how they’re actually portrayed is a distraction from the story. Points further deducted for a cover portraying a character who’s not even in the story.
"Hellmouth" comes to a grinding halt this issue, which chooses to focus on the morose tales of Giles, Willow, and Xander instead of actually advancing the story. Readers are going to find themselves frustrated on multiple levels, ending with a very strong sense of "Why should I care?"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #9: Down and Out in Sunnydale
Writing - 3/103/10
Storyline - 3.5/103.5/10
Art - 5/105/10
Color - 7/107/10
Cover Art - 6/106/10
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