Buffy The Vampire Slayer #5, published by BOOM! Studios, is the start of the second arc in the new series based on the television show of the same name that was created by the renowned Joss Whedon. Written by Jordie Bellaire, with colors from Raúl Angulo, letters by Ed Dukeshire, and with David López, a new illustrator is joining the Scooby Gang. Buffy The Vampire Slayer #5 picks up with Buffy fighting and a friend in trouble.
In the first arc, told over issues number one through four, we were introduced into the new world of Buffy. Pulled into 2019 with updated lingo, electronics, and wardrobe, the trio of Buffy, Xander, and Willow have put an ancient protector back to sleep, killed vampires, and were introduced to the big bads, Drusilla and Spike. But through it all, Xander was left feeling alone. Willow had her girlfriend and Buffy had vampires to slay and a crush on Robin.
With Xander feeling alone, he was the perfect prey for the evil Drusilla, with issue number four ending with his seeming transformation into the thing Buffy was made to slay. Now, Buffy The Vampire Slayer #5 finds the Willow and Buffy taken aback by the news with the arrival of Ms. Calendar signaling an attempt to save him.
Much like previous issues, Buffy The Vampire Slayer #5 has a cold open, with Buffy waking up from a dream where she’s fighting a nest of vampires, focused on slaying them and on finding the one to “just go shopping with.” While this opening felt more like filler than impactful narrative building, I appreciated how Bellaire worked in Buffy’s charm and humor in a dark situation. The opening is also the only time that I didn’t find myself questioning the choices made by López with his rendition of the characters, as the action is dynamic and well drawn.
That being said, as much as I enjoy the emotion and world building in this issue from Bellaire’s writing, the art is off, a stark contrast to Dan Mora’s work on the first four issues. Where Mora offered corners and defined lines, with points, everything about López’s art is curvy, softer, and a mismatch for Angulo’s strong colors. Sadly, the art was so off that the illustrations of humans seemed like distorted faces with the pupils floating in the whites of the characters’ eyes as if they’re in a permanent state of shock and the vampires’ iconic bumpy look is smoothed to almost any run of the mill vampire.
Truthfully, the characters don’t bare a resemblance to Mora’s character nor the actors who portrayed them in real life. Instead, the art is too campy without enough horror and strong angles to build an immersive experience. The fact that Mora not only nailed the appearances of the characters but improved on them, made López’s work disappointing at best and distracting at worst – the latter of which happened with every close-up of a Scooby.
The largest disservice is in the illustration of Spike who is no longer the muscley vampire with a stare that cut through the page, but instead, a skeleton faced man with some rounding in his arms where definition should have been.
Thankfully, Anguli’s colors hold the visuals together, as they are the only thing keeping Buffy The Vampire Slayer #5 feeling it belongs in the same world as issues one through four. The colors are rich, with the darkness easily flowing from one panel to the next, building a heavy atmosphere.
Overall, Mora’s art is missed and López’s just plainly misses the mark. While Bellaire’s writing continues to capture and improve on the largest characters in the Whedon-verse, it’s let down by the art. It pains me to say that bad art can ruin a good story, but López’s inability to show an emotion other than eyes wide open in shock undercuts any emotion built by Bellaire’s script
Pick up Buffy The Vampire #5 because of the cliffhanger left after the last issue, but don’t expect for it hit you in the Buffy-feels like every issue preceding it was able to.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.