It’s the beginning of the end with the release of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #21, as Andrew Chambliss kicks off a brand new story arc that sets the stage for the season’s looming finale. With only 4 more issues left, ‘The Core, Part One’ significantly pushes the narrative forward with a new mission, and wastes no time delivering exciting (though slightly ambiguous) plot twists that will leave readers dazed, but not surprised.
WRITTEN BY: Andrew Chambliss
ART BY: Georges Jeanty
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE: May 8, 2013
Following last month’s example, this is also one of the least contrived and most entertaining installments of the season thus far. Xander, battered and bruised, returns after his forced rendezvous with Severin (The Siphon) and Simone; both of whom spoon-fed him promises of a better future if he betrays Buffy and provides them with intel in the form of the infamous VAMPYR book. Willow, having returned in issue #20, successfully manages to wake Dawn up, though the results are less than positive. She needs to juice up on magic in order to effectively save Dawn’s life, and she can acquire this magic in the Deeper Well; so, a new mission is born.
With the aid of Giles’ VAMPYR book, the gang reads up on The Deeper Well, while Georges Jeanty, Michelle Madsen, and Dexter Vines provide two visually fantastic panels bringing their research to life. Besides being designed to hold an abundance of magic inside, the Deeper Well is also a tomb for the Old Ones—the first demons to walk the Earth—who were too powerful to be defeated by mortal creatures. If anything goes wrong on their mission, Buffy and co. can inadvertently unleash hell on Earth.
The artistic team get an A+ for their take on the Deeper Well, especially considering their inclusion of Illyria in original form. But, Madsen steals the show with her colours, as she uses a noticeably larger and brighter colour palette in a mere panel, which, surprisingly, livens up the entire issue.
The rest of ‘The Core, Part One’ continues with confirmation of Xander’s betrayal, unbeknownst to Buffy and Willow. Debatably, his betrayal had more empathetic merit in issue #20 when there seemed to be no options for saving his girlfriend; but it’s a hard pill to swallow knowing he’s putting his trust in the bad guys.
The last 4 panels need mentioning as well, as Chambliss and Jeanty amp up the excitement in both script and art. It’s rare that Jeanty hits the mark with his artistic style, but his sequential illustrations of a main character’s return, The Scoobies’ stand-off with the guards, and Severin and Simone seemingly succeeding in their master-plan, is pure visual entertainment; only made better by Chambliss’ engaging plot developments. Arguably, even his variant cover is preferable over Phil Noto’s, this time around.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9” #21 offers a handful of great moments, but there are a few problems to be shared. The first deals with continuity errors. It’s revealed in the VAMPYR book that the last Old One to be imprisoned in the Deeper Well created the first vampire. But according to the BuffyVerse, more specifically in Season 5 of Angel, episode 16, Illyria blatantly confirms the existence of vampires during the days prior to her banishment to the Well. So, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding this fact. Moreover, there are believability and plausibility issues regarding the guards’ strategically bad judgement calls when protecting the Deeper Well; and product placement in the form of an obnoxiously featured iPhone makes an obvious appearance.
All that said, this installment is very enjoyable, and the fandom will eat it up.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd