Updated: Sep 29, 2020
Hellmouth #1 Written by Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert, Illustrated by Eleonora Carlini, Coloured by Cris Peter. Created by Joss Whedon.
But you already knew that part.
It's finally here, folks! The first major event of the surprisingly strong Boom Buffyverse comics. They've been teasing and building towards this for months now, and it's all lead to this!
Which makes it all the more surprising, that the whole thing is vaguely disappointing.
On paper, this issue has everything required to succeed. Classic WhedonVerse humour, some solid action, gallons of snark, and the first official meeting of everyone's third favourite BuffyVerse 'ship. Angel and Buffy.
But, while Buffy spends the whole issue tearing around, smashing demons, back-talking literally everyone, and really trying to build up some manner of tension, it all just falls a little flat.
You can't help but feel a sense of the inevitable around it all. Buffy and Angel spend the whole issue trying to prevent the opening of the Hellmouth. They even give themselves a little leeway, by informing us that Drusilla needs two more steps after her activation of the Hellmouth in Buffy: Hellmouth Prelude.
Except, it doesn't really matter what those are. In fact, it matters so little, they don't even show Drusilla doing one of them. The first barrier is overcome in one of the few scenes of the issue with any real feeling to it. But from there, they jump right to "Okay, the Hellmouth is open now, lets get in and get it on!" We can make a few assumptions as to how she achieved her goals, and in the end, it doesn't really matter how it happened, but the whole thing feels fairly unfulfilling.
So, while I'm sure Bellaire and Lambert were going for "tense build-up" it felt more like "20% of this event is already filler." as two stages to opening the hellmouth are introduced, and summarily overcome, all within 30 pages. All this, despite there being zero buildup for either requirement, and a lot of focus being placed on the dagger and it's part to play in the current event.
Overall, despite loving these runs so far, and being very excited for this issue, I can't help but feel somewhat let down.
It's not ALL bad, though; the art remains fantastic. The scene of Xander, Buffy and soon to be dead traitor boyfriend was fun, especially when their special guest showed up.
Angel and Buffy's introduction was weaved into the issue well, and even though their characters have been tweaked a bit from their TV counterparts, the chemistry there is still instant.
And, as I mentioned before, the scene where they find that Drusilla already has the Hellmouth open is strong. There's some real emotion there, and in an issue which literally hadn't stopped since page one, having everything slam to a halt in such brutal fashion really causes the reader some pause. I just wish the rest of the issue had been as well planned. And, I guess most importantly, for the start of a big event like this: The final panel grabs you JUST enough to ensure that despite the opening being luke-warm, you will definitely be back for issue 2.
I guess I'll see you then!