Review - Hellmouth #1 (@boomstudios)

"The prophecies, the legends. All leading to destiny."

Buffy is no stranger to danger. Whether that danger is mortal or immortal, Buffy always finds a way to prevail. In Hellmouth #1 from BOOM! Studios, it's going to take a lot more than just Buffy to save Sunnydale from the latest threat. The issue is written by Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert, illustrated by Eleonora Carlini, colored by Cris Peter and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

Buffy Summers, the Slayer, has one job... keep the forces of hell from coming to Earth through, uh, Hellmouth. Here's the bad news: she might have failed. The Mistress Drusilla and her ally, Spike, have found a weapon to open the Hellmouth and unleash unspeakable evil across the town and the world. With time running out, Buffy must team up with a new ally that she doesn't fully trust the vampire vigilante known as Angel! Can these two find a way to work together before the Hellmouth opens - or these two decide they might be each other's greatest enemy?

If you haven't been following the new Buffy (or Angel) series you might be a little lost in Hellmouth #1 as Bellaire and Lambert drop the reader in the middle of chaos. That actually works in the book's favor somewhat as the frenetic pacing is buoyed by a sense of the unknown and trying to figure out what exactly is happening. Bellaire and Lambert don't really tread new ground in terms of plot as far as the Buffy universe go, but they pretty deftly capture the unique personalities of each of the main players well. Each of the characters shine in their own way--with Buffy in particular leaping into Vampire Slayer mode without hesitation--as Bellaire and Lambert infuse the book with plenty of snappy dialogue. The inclusion of Angel raises the stakes that much more, although if this is a crossover to kick off the rebooted universe it's a very high bar to start with.

Carlini's artwork is thoroughly enjoyable and adds a tremendous sense of elan to the otherwise dour proceedings. There's an abundance of kinetic energy in Carlini's stylized linework that eschews traditional character outlines for characters that tend to blend in better with their surroundings. Most of the characters are easily recognizable, although there are some instances where Buffy and Anya look very similar; thankfully, there's a Halloween costume that makes them distinguishable from one another. Drusilla is illustrated in a way that very aptly captures her off-kiltered personality and helps reinforce the notion that she's not entirely all there. Peter's colors provide more intensity to the action, reflecting the fires of the Hellmouth in reds and oranges that contrast with the darker settings of the high school where they hatch a plan to stop it.

Hellmouth #1 is pretty unapologetic in its demands on the reader, but it still manages to pull off an engaging first issue that even fans of the franchise at large will have an idea of what's going on. Buffy is tasked with saving the world again and it's going to take the help of everyone to do so. The script by Bellaire and Lambert is fast-paced and hits the expected notes, setting up the potential for some entertaining future issues. Carlini's artwork has a youthfulness to it that reinvigorates the decades old franchise. Hellmouth #1 demands a lot of the reader and isn't going to be a good starting point for fans new to the series, but if they don't need to know all the intricate backstories then they're still welcome to dive in.

Hellmouth #1 is available now.