As I’ve been saying since the first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, BOOM! Studios has gone all out to show us that they are ready to tackle the Buffyverse. It was safe to say that many of us feared the worst when they picked up the licensing to these stories, and decided that they would take us back to the early days. However, time and time again between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel we have seen that they are able to give us the same new experiences, and without rewriting any of the things we know and love about these characters. All of those things leading up to the boldest move so far being this crossover event.
So far I would say that they are also off to a great start. Both the prelude to Buffy and Angel served as an excellent opener for where both ends of this story intercept as the flood gates are opened. The prelude for Buffy in particular was excellent because no time was wasted at all in bringing everything full circle between the mysterious circumstance of Joyce Summers’ new museum exhibit, and the dreams both Buffy and Xander have had warning them of what might possibly come. Now of course with that said, it is important to address how accessible this book is for readers who did not read the preludes. Not always can you expect them to, even when they probably should before jumping right into an event book. By the end of this issue I will say that it will benefit you to be caught up on everything up to this point. They haven’t advertised this as a jumping-on point, and as such I would personally recommend it considering there are new twists to this series that you don’t want to scratch your head about.
With that said, Hellmouth #1 jumps right into the madness that is the door opened for the demons on the other side to flood into the human world. From the second you flip to that first page you can see how the town of Sunnydale is quickly changed by those opening moments. This I liked of course since the last thing you ever want from a story like this is for the troubles to be contained. This is the time to go wild, which means people feeling the ground rip open from beneath their feet, fleeing from the demons now running amok, and in general just noticing their presence among them in a way which stirs fear. All the things you need to see in order to be immersed in this world set on fire.
Now catching up with Buffy, Xander, and Angel was where the fun began. These three have seen and experienced their fair share of craziness in this town, but this right here takes the cake. Their reaction to this was priceless, as well as the involvement of some other students who surprisingly took this all better than you would have expected. That said, what stood out to me most was seeing how Buffy began to rise to the occasion. This would be that time where you might assume that Buffy will hesitate or struggle with accepting all of this responsibility, but tht is not the version of Buffy we are dealing with. She is at that point in her journey where naturally the thing to do is spring into action, and the scenes were a thrill thanks to a very capable art team too. Through her first taste of real evil unleashed, there was no better time than this issue to set the tone for what’s to follow. For better or for worse, I enjoyed seeing the fire in Buffy’s eyes which remind you of her older self when facing impossible odds.
One thing I appreciated most about Hellmouth was the choice to go with Eleonora Carlini as artist. Never once did she disappoint me when she drew Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers, so I expected the same quality of work to go into this book too. I mean that’s exactly what we got as well. Not the same expressive style that we get in the Buffy books, but it goes without saying that Eleonora offers the excitement of these characters looking closer to their tv counterparts. This isn’t make it or break it for an artist on books like this, but it is certainly something you tend to welcome above all else. From there it was creative to see the design of these demons unleashed. Much of them were demons and creatures that you for the most part have never seen before. Aside from this, the color work was excellent as well. What jumps out at you most is definitely Cris Peter’s use of warm colors. I love when colorists made those fires and flames more of their own, and Peter’s did just that. Even taking steps forward to make the fires look more supernatural, like let’s say hellfire.
It also goes without saying that the lettering was also on point. For that voice which kept popping up throughout the issue, both the font and color scheme added the right levels of sinister to the plot.
Hellmouth #1 is a must read. This is not the big story that I thought we would get from the Buffyverse through BOOM! Studios, but it is the story we deserved. This is what happens when you take the guidance of the show, and allow the books to do the things you could have never done in live-action.