(w) Jordie Bellaire, Jeremy Lambert (a) Eleonora Carlini
As far as a complete reboot of one of the most beloved properties in pop culture go, BOOM! Studios’ reboot of Buffy and Angel has been a great success. Both series have managed to capture the general feel and spirit of their source material while offering readers a new experience updated for today’s sensibilities. That also goes for Hellmouth, billed as the first comics event for Buffy and Angel comics. While it is an “event” by definition, it does not possess the same amount of spectacle that readers have grown accustomed to. Instead, Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert have made Hellmouth a character-focused story that just happens to occur during a world-ending situation.
Hellmouth #3 engages readers by very quickly changing up the character dynamics. After an ominous introduction by an unseen narrator, an earthquake (or something of the sort) throws the characters awry, resulting in the unlikely team of Buffy and Drusilla while Angel finds himself in the familiar territory of being alone. The Buffy/Drusilla pairing is entertaining, but by stripping away the vamp’s original eccentricities she ultimately reads like one of the dozens of other vampires featured in Buffy and Angel. The real draw is Buffy’s reactions to the situations, and how she continues to forge ahead despite the hand she’d been dealt.
On the Angel front, the ensouled vampire faces his own challenges. He finds himself in the home of a peculiar-looking demon. Basically, it’s his own version of Yoda, complete with a tiny hut in a swampy environment. The two discuss paths for Angel to be completely restored as a human, and not stuck in the limbo he’s found himself in. This development really stands out, as Angel has been typically portrayed as someone that willingly accepts the burdens he’s been given, rarely does he express a desire for anything (except Buffy, of course).
The issue’s conclusion, and the events of the next issue, will deal with subject matter that is pivotal to both series. While withholding judgment until Hellmouth #4 releases, it’s doubtful that this moment will match the emotional resonance that was seen in the television series. However, taken on its own, it seems to be well executed and leaves readers wanting more. To be fair, this whole series has left readers wanting more, as after three issues, there hasn’t been much in terms of actual plot development or progression.
Eleonora Carlini’s artwork continues to be solid, though overall unspectacular. While she continues to bring a lot of energy and expressiveness to each panel, the whole look of the book is safe. There’s few artistic risks taken, which keeps the scale of the story unnecessarily small. Throughout the years, it’s been proven that event comics can be character focused while still providing spectacle. With two issues left, hopefully Carlini shows herself capable of providing something to that effect.
Hellmouth #3 continues to be an enjoyable story, with several great moments from its lead characters. Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert’s tight script does not waste any space, perhaps proving that this story needed more than five issues. Despite its name, there is little to no emphasis on the impact the Hellmouth is having on the world at large, which in turn is keeping the stakes artificially low. After three issues, Hellmouth reads very much like an issue of Buffy or Angel. Without anything to make it stand out from the characters’ own series, it’s a wonder why this story wasn’t just confined to the pages of those books.