Hellmouth TPB Review

by Nick Devonald on July 14, 2020

Writer: Jordie Bellaire & Jeremy Lambert
Artist: Eleonora Carlini
Colours: Cris Peter with Mattia Iacono (Chapter 4)
Letters: Ed Dukeshire

Hellmouth had a lot of things riding on its shoulders, and plenty to deliver. It promised the first iconic meeting of Buffy & Angel, after Angels surprising appearance at the end of Buffy #4. It was the first event in Booms! Rebooted Buffyverse, promising readers an epic crossover. It was also the conclusion to the first series overarching storyline. With so much pressure it’s a good job that not only were readers expectations blown out of the water, but a new standard was set for what a comic book event should look like.

Each individual issue scored highly here at CTG, but reading the event as a complete graphic novel showed what a well planned out series this was. A well written comic not only works week to week, but when colllected as a graphic novel tells a complete story as well, which is exactly what Jordie Bellaire & Jeremy Lambert have crafted here. It's not until reading the mini-series as an entire event that readers can appreciate the clever bookending of the series from Anya and Giles, which begins to explain Anya and her importance to the overall series. In addition each issue began with a narration which initially appeared to be from Drusilla, but was later revealed to be the Hellmother. Reading the series in one sitting makes this narration flow much more naturally than having a months wait between issues, and shows the clever misdirection that Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert used on the readers.

In addition it is an excellent example of what a comic book event should be. There weren't dozens of unneccesary tie-in issues to bloat the story. While both Buffy and Angel tied in intrinsically to the Hellmouth event, neither were required reading to understand events, and Hellmouth is mostly stand alone from the two parent series. Of course reading everything gives the reader the complete picture, and is highly recommended anyway since both series were fantastic. And it was an incredibly important story, to both the larger universe and the individual series and characters. The big two could learn a lot from looking at how Boom! have handled this event.

It also served as a fantastic season finale, or comic equivalent anyway. The stakes couldn’t possibly be higher, there were prophecies involving Buffy which was a clever parallel to the first TV season, and a larger multiverse was introduced which left the reader with even more questions and mysteries to be solved.

Of course we can't forget the first meeting of Buffy and Angel, with Angel's classic entrance through the library doors in a way that was reminiscent of the TV series. While the pair found themselves working together for the greater good, the banter between them growing, there was also a sense of distrust between the two, made all the worse once Buffy realises Angels true nature. It did everything that the reader wanted, and gave us the potential for their relationship to further down the line.

And despite the fact that most of the series relied solely on Buffy and Angel, toward the end of the series it's the appearance of the Scooby gang, and their subsequent saving the day, which will really have fans cheering. In the TV series it was always suggested that Buffys friendships not only separated her from previous Slayers, it was one of the ways in which she was better than those who’d come before. Without saying it the implication here is that her relationship with her friends is what made her defeat the Hellmother, as opposed to the multiverse of Buffy's who didn’t.

Despite generally favourable reviews there were a few questions about the pacing of the series. By the time we’ve reached Hellmouth Jordie Bellaire has not only got the pacing spot on, but it carries on past the events conclusion and into the main Buffy series. Whatever the reasons behind it the Buffy series is in great hands, and is sure to delight fans of the original while also appealing to readers new to Buffy.

As well as being an incredible conclusion to the first big story arc it also teases plenty to come in the future. Angels desire to be human is briefly featured, as well as the reveal that the path to getting there won’t be pleasant. The Buffy multiverse is teased, with Anya giving us a number of clues but no concrete answers, and a stinger at the end which leaves readers with their mouths open wondering what they’ve just witnessed. It’s an exciting time to be a Buffy fan.

Eleonora Carlini’s art was exactly what this first Buffy crossover needed. She managed to recreate all of the iconic characters brilliantly, with a fluidity in the scenes which practically brought the characters to life on the page. From Angels entrance, to the action scenes, there’s a kinetic energy in each panel. Carlini was faced with a particularly difficult challenge with the series as well, since she had to bring the Hellmouth to life. She manages to make it suitably otherworldly and Hellish, doing an incredible job bringing it to life. Then she had the challenge of creating a whole host of new and iconic creatures for the series, which she did admirably. A particular favourite was Augie, whose first appearance helped readers realise he wasn’t a threat, rather a more harmless type of demon. Cris Peter’s colours are a great match for Carlini’s art. The alien landscape of the Hellmouth is truly brought to life with the colours he uses to do so.

If this is what events in Booms! Buffyverse are going to look like in the future then this series is going to go from strength to strength. Perhaps this could become an annual occurrence, a conclusion to the years story arc and a fantastic high to end the series and begin the next, perhaps even having Lambert return for writing duties, with Carlini and Peter resuming their art duties. Perhaps that’s just wishful thinking on this reviewers part though.

As events go this was done incredibly well, managing to set an incredibly high standard for other publishers on how crossovers should be handled correctly. The entire creative team was firing on all cylinders and it did an incredible job of not only connecting the two main titles in the Buffyverse but also expanding the mythos and setting up future storylines. It achieved a number of things, not least of which the iconic meeting of Buffy and Angel. It’s an exciting time to be a Buffy fan.

Our Score:


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