In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer #6

I'm walking away from this title because of the subpar visuals.

The covers: A lucky seven covers to track down for this sixth issue. The Main cover by Marc Aspinall is a glorious image of Giles holding several tomes protectively to his chest as a seam appears in the floor. Fire spews from this fissure, reaching towards other books and items on the floor. The background is colored a strong violet in broad brushstrokes. I really like this, with Giles looking angry at what’s occurring. The Spotlight cover by Kevin Wada is one to track down. Cordelia is leaving Sunnydale High after cheerleader practice — she’s still wearing her uniform, walking through the student parking lot turning her head to check her phone. She looks gorgeous, the attitude on her face is perfection, and the colors are spectacular. I’m not a fan of Cordelia on Buffy, but this is a perfect frontpiece. The Chosen One cover by Alexa Sharpe continues to show Slayers throughout time. This time it’s France in 1820, with the setting and date in orange in the upper left corner. A woman with gray hair is standing on a wire balcony of an tall building keeping a vampire from falling over by holding its cravat. She has a wooden stake in her left hand poised to strike. I love the characters, the setting, and the colors. This is a really striking cover. The Episode Preorder Variant cover by Becca Carey has a portable television on a black background a la Poltergeist. There’s some disturbing 80’s computer text on the screen. Above the television Mother’s Milk is Red Today is written in red. At the bottom it states the episode title “Conversations With Dead People.” This is okay, but has nothing to do with this issue. Ethan Young does the Variant cover that is a heavily lined black and white cover of Buffy walking down an alley with a stake in her hand. The reader is looking down into the setting, with the Slayer in the center foreground and a broken window at the top given a red background so the reader can see the vampire that’s rising up. This is really cool and I’d love to see Young illustrate an issue like this. The Unlocked Spike Variant cover by Miguel Mercado has the iconic blonde bloodsucker slurping from a styrofoam cup, his cheeks sucked in as he imbibes, against a black night. He’s looks to the right focusing on something that’s caught his attention. This is cool and it looks like James Marsters. As much as I like this I would want to pick up the Unlocked Vampire Spike Variant cover by Mercado. This has Spike moments later, casually tossing his empty cup to the right and smiling as he’s transformed into a vamp. This is terrific. Overall grades: Main A+, Spotlight A+, Chosen One A, Episode Preorder D+, Variant A-, Unlocked Spike Variant A-, and Unlocked Vampire Spike Variant A+

The story: Jordie Bellaire starts this issue right in the thick of the action as Willow and Buffy are battling some giant beetles. As Willow is trying to keep one off of her she tells Buffy she regrets inviting Robin to date Buffy and for not calling Xander. Buffy says, as she battles the big bug, that Willow can’t blame herself. At that moment Buffy kills the bug, causing a gusher of violet goo to spew over the fiery haired future witch. Willow pulls out a map that they’re using to seek out a Soul Tie. They’ve already gone through the first three challenges and don’t feel like they’re progressing. Willow is losing her drive to continue, overcome by Xander’s dire situatiuon. “What if he dies before we get back?” Buffy grabs her by the shoulders and says, “He won’t. He’s got you looking out for him, and that’s enough to keep him going. I know it.” These words make Willow feel better, but they’re not prepared for who appears behind them. The story then moves to Giles and Jenny taking a break watching over Mr. Harris who wakes and says something is going to swallow everything. The story then moves back to Buffy, Will, and another, with all three encountering a surprising character. This individual is neat and I would love to see more of this character. Something major goes down, or should I say “comes up,” with this individual and Willow. Just as one thinks the book will end on a high note for the characters, there’s a major reveal on the final page that spells future troubles and heartache for the cast. This was a really solid issue, though I’m still having issues with some of the character actions, such as Willow battling giant bugs — it seems a little too soon considering how long she’s been friends with Buffy. Still, Bellaire is telling a great tale. Overall grade: A-

The art: This artwork is not good. David López’s art is just not suitable for this series because of his character work. The characters’ faces look horrible, with Buffy looking the worst. There’s no defending Buffy in the final panel on Page 3, unless Kate McKinnon is Buffy’s inspiration. How big is Buffy’s nose? The bottom of Pages 4 and 5 show it to be huge and her eyes are extremely distant. Buffy’s nose goes through a transformation in the bottom three panels on 10. If this isn’t a sign of poor artwork, take a look at the first panel on 13. This should not be happening to the lead character. Willow fares better as she sports her Furiosa coloring, but even she gets abnormally spaced eyes on Page 15, as does Jenny Calendar on 7. The character that surprisingly joins Buffy and Willow on their quest also gets widely spaced eyes on 13 and 15. The individual on 11 looks good, with an element of her visage floating around her head. This is the only decently drawn character. The inconsistency and horrific characterizations are enough for me to cease purchasing the book. I’ll be back when there’s a new artist, but I cannot continue to purchase a book with this art. Overall grade: F

The colors: The work by Raúl Angulo is fine. I like that Buffy and Willow’s location is given a sick light green that makes everything they do uncomfortable. Willow’s red hair and violet Furiosa inspired goo has her as an eye magnet whenever she appears, as it should since something major occurs to her in this issue. Giles’s apartment is fairly bright when he and Jenny talk, as it is when Xander speaks to them. There’s no reason for it to become so dark when the three show up at the end. The darkness adds nothing to the seriousness of their situation, serving to only make the reader believe Giles can’t pay the electricity bills. I would have liked to see the individual that enters on 11 in a different color from the background because she blends in to it too easily. Overall grade: C+

The letters: This issue’s text includes dialogue, sounds, whispers, a yell, and cellphone text. All are created by Ed Dukeshire. As with the art, I’m done with the look of the dialogue on this book. It’s overly thin and extremely difficult to read. The use of a lower case u among all the caps is a stylistic choice, but it stands out as I read and takes me out of story. The whispered text exasperates my reading of this book. The sounds are fine, the yell okay, and the cellphone text realistic. This dialogue needs an overhaul. Overall grade: D-

The final line: If the characters don’t look good and the dialogue too difficult to read, this book should not be purchased or read. I’m walking away from this title because of the subpar visuals. This is a shame because the story has become interesting; I’m still not thrilled with some of the changes from the television series, but with this issue I got on board with the majority of them. This is the first Buffy book I’ve dropped in twelve years. In just two issues Angel is a much stronger looking series and I’ll continue with that. When Buffy looks better, I hope to come back. Looking at her like this mars every outing that’s come before. Overall grade: D+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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