A Slayer Without A Cause: Reviewing ‘The Vampire Slayer’ #7
by Scott Redmond
‘The Vampire Slayer’ turns its gaze to the former and would-be slayer that began it all, giving us a fantastically deep character study surrounded by an increasingly tense horror story befitting of this world. Buffy’s struggle here is relatable and handled well, as we’re given a different side to the character we thought we knew, depicted gorgeously dark and tensely.
In this world, there are a large number of people trying to find their space in life or even their destiny. Some people are able to find that role in life, the one they believe they were meant to inhabit, while others can’t find it or are left behind. Then there are those like Buffy Summers who had a destiny and a role, but it was taken from her.
Too bad for her she can’t remember that destiny, especially since her very life depends on it now.
I’ve really enjoyed how Sarah Gailey has moved the narration focus around in this series since it began, mostly avoiding really diving deeply into what is happening with Buffy till now. As the others live their lives, and Willow struggles with the effects being the Slayer is having on her mentally, Buffy in a way fills the role that we saw Xander inhabit in the show. The friend that is “normal” that can’t figure out how they fully fit in, the weight of this all resting firmly upon their shoulders. Compounded by the fact that Buffy is dreaming about being the slayer, and is unconsciously tapping into some of the physical benefits that came with the role.
A major aspect that I appreciated about this issue is how almost three-fourths of it was just focused on Buffy moving through the world as she narrated her struggles and situation. Buffy was the title character of this world for so long, and it’s really intriguing to get a look into her head now that she is more of a supporting character, and believes she always has been. Gaily captures the voice of Buffy, and all these characters, so well while also altering it so that it fits within the changed world we’re witness to in this series.
Numerous storylines, some of them ominous, are growing in this series and with the focus shifting in each issue to different characters’ perspectives they aren’t all being addressed. Which is really great. Clearly, Gailey is building to something, but every issue is so full of great character and world-building stuff that we don’t have to see all the plotlines every time to recall that they are there, their absence actually making the intrigue grow. I’m more invested in the characters, world, and the story overall as I await and anticipate but also enjoy where its all going.
We get a new artist on board with this issue, as Claudia Balboni brings the world to life alongside regular colorist Valentina Pinto. There is a slick smooth dynamic energy to Balboni’s work that pairs well with the bright but muted color palette that Pinto uses, a lightness with lots of shadows and creeping darkness to bring a more and more ominous tone to the pages. Like the other artists, Balboni does a great job of capturing the spirit of each of the character’s appearances without them needing to be spitting images of the actors that portrayed them on the small screen. Visually through appearance as well as body language, we know that this is Buffy, and can feel the energy that Sarah Michelle Gellar infused into the character, plus a whole new modern batch of energy of their own.
Peppering spiders into the scenes was a really neat move, one that truly I didn’t notice at first till just before the point where the spider being Hungrus the Slayer-Eater emerged to take Buffy. Upon a second read-through, there are spiders dropped into various panels, some prominent and others a bit more out of the potential eyeline, speaking to the horror that is to come. And that panel where the Hungrus around and up into the panel was terrifyingly awesome. (I might dislike spiders, like a lot, but still awesome!)
As noted before, there is a lot of ominous darkness and shadows permeating things as Pinto makes sure to set the tone right away. All of the night scenes inside just feel real with the darkness feeling oppressive but also freeing, with the bit of light to help with things. And Sunnydale is bright and shining but darkness lurks around every corner, as it always has and should when depicting this cursed city over a Hell Mouth.
Ed Dukeshire is the master of words, and there are a lot of words to deal with in this issue. Thanks to the great work that Dukeshire puts in with the letters we can feel and hear Buffy’s voice and character bleeding through the narration boxes that dot the pages, flowing around the character and panels in an easy-to-follow way. Bold and italics bring the right emphasis to certain words, giving them even more power, as does the larger and very red font that Hungrus comes inside of ominous red bubbles with an almost chalky-looking bloody stroke around them.
Altogether they make this issue, not just a fantastic character piece, but through the use of the shadows and inspired paneling and placement of words (even some pages being wordless) the horror of this issue is amplified and it palpable.
The Vampire Slayer #7 is now available from BOOM! Studios.