Hellmouth is all the drama in Sunnydale. This isn’t the first time that we have jumped into a story where we explore a world without Buffy, but it is the first time for this book! Especially when Buffy has left behind her friends who currently find themselves facing some difficult hurdles in their lives. Dark witch influence, half-vampire, affliction from a demonic hell gate, the list goes on for what is keeping the rest of our heroes from rising to the occasion. This made it a brilliant idea to at the same time introduce a new slayer in the form of one Kendra.
From the start we jump right into Kendra beginning her integration into this town and the madness that comes with it, and the Hellmouth of course. It was very interesting to take things from the perspective of Kendra as well because even though she is the new slayer, there is no denying that she may very well be one of the most sane people around. This isn’t to say that she is too likable right now, because I don’t think they have done enough to make her someone who you would genuinely invest in yet. This could change in time, but the approach is understandable considering what Kendra knows about being a slayer versus the firsthand experience she is getting right now in Sunnydale.
What I appreciated about this issue was that by the end they got to the point for where there was clarity about what’s going on with the guys in this town. I liked seeing what different effects the Hellmouth had on them, but there was only so long they could go on with this before it would eventually feel like things were dragging on. I mean, by this issue it was pretty easy to pick out where something wasn’t right with some of these characters. The aggressiveness, the violent nature coming to the surface, the sweating, not to mention the many veins which lowly popped out of their faces as if they were about to burst a blood vessel. This was that time to give us answers for it all. The answer to that I will say was satisfying. Much better than what could have been initially assumed about what was happening to those being consumed by this darkness.
With that said, the best takeaway from all of this was the way in which the afflicted were used as entry ways to address deeper concerns about the well-being of these characters that they are too young and prideful to confront on their own. When you are a teen in high school, your worst nightmare is always going to be being confronted by truths about yourself that you aren’t willing to accept. Whether it was Giles, Robin, or even Xander, you had to love how from each of them it was nothing but truth with no punches pulled.
As I said above, there has been no greater source of drama in this town than what the Hellmouth unleashed upon everyone. This issue because of that turned out to be one of the strongest from this art team. This goes double for Lopez who did a standout job of capturing these characters in their most feral state. Tensions are high, and that was believable through their expressions, their body language, and as I said before, the nasty bulging veins which engulfed some of their faces. Even the coloring made an impact in setting this mood. Especially when it came down to creating the atmosphere which shifted from he cold colors of night to the sense of impending doom stirred up through warm colors taking over the sky. This issue also offered some of the best work that we have gotten from the lettering. Red is a good color, and the additional markings added to the word balloons made a big difference in making the voice of this big bad pop and create intimidation.
Since the start of the Hellmouth tie-in, there has been no denying how refreshing this story has been following the lives of the rest of The Scoobies and town in a world without Buffy. She couldn’t have left at a worst time, but there is no better way to challenge the mettle of these other characters when they only have each other to rely on to save the day.