What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer #14! This was one of those books which made you feel like you had to take a step back and remind yourself of what happened in the previous issue. Fortunately there wasn’t much to get yourself caught up on when Buffy the Vampire Slayer #14 was just the story of Kendra and what her life was like before being chosen and making her trip to Sunnydale. That’s of course not to say that it wasn’t an important chapter moving forward, because again this is new territory for those who are more used to Faith being the that other slayer.
With that said, Buffy the Vampire Slayer #14 was one to look forward to after Hellmouth since this is now a time of big changes. Xander is deceased, Willow has gone off on her own to begin healing, and we don’t know how Buffy is going to cope with all of those changes in her life. To see how all of that plays into this world post-Hellmouth is what we’re here for.
Honestly, it was worth the wait to finally see what life was like for Buffy. After all this time between the end of Hellmouth and now, how they even eased us into that first scene was excellent. It wasn’t hard to believe that Buffy was really struggling. It was written on her face, the things she said and yet her body did opposite. They nailed giving her that moment to reflect what it looks like when you are doing your best to keep it all together. Her first real conversation was perfect as well. It’s definitely something to get used to seeing Robin so relevant in this story, but so far nothing makes you question the decision. Even before he knew Buffy was a slayer, he was a cool guy who simply knew how to connect with people. It only got better when after I would say he has handled things better than most. Being there for Buffy, understanding what she needs versus what he clearly wants.
Even then, Bellaire kept pushing into the mental health of Buffy, which was heartbreaking. The drama was cranked up, and it was understandable for the fact that everyone copes with loss in different ways. They grieve, they push people away, they sometimes try to punish themselves for things which are out of their control.
From there, little time was wasted showing what is now different about having two slayers operating in Sunnydale. As much as I do like Faith, it was hard to deny the fact that the dynamic between Buffy and Kendra is better. They bicker and butt heads, but that is better than the cliche of having one slayer trying to kill the other because they only see it possible for a single slayer to exist. So we got to see how these two interact, including the stress that is now piled on top of Giles after everything which has happened up to this point too. That said, it was also worthwhile to slip in a moment for Kendra as well. This was a great time to also show what goes through her head when she sees this other slayer who was allowed much more leniency than she ever was.
Now I know it might be unfair, but for me I liked this change to Julian Lopez as the illustrator for the book. Nothing against the artist before, but this was the kind of style to the artwork that I found myself used to in the previous Buffy books. There was more detail put into the characters, settings, and so forth which immersed you deeper into the world. Obviously this isn’t to say that detail is everything, but it goes a long way when creating the likeness of the characters. This looked like Buffy. Even characters like Robin’s looks improved because small things stood out like his lips, hair, mannerisms. It also helped that even greater attention put into making the expressions and body language more natural. Speaking of natural, the colors were also more grounded. I had no arguments there because a tamer palette I think works better with the atmosphere of this series. At the end of the day you want to go for highlighting the darker elements, rather than the fantastical.
There was no lie, this issue answers the question of what happened to Buffy. I walked away satisfied with the state she finds herself in, among other changes which have come with a post-Hellmouth world. Overall, Buffy the Vampire Slayer #14 did well to set the tone for everything to follow. Things are going to be different now, and this also creates a lot of room for this creative team to play around with the new possibilities.