Buffy the Vampire Slayer #4

Written by: Jordie Bellaire
Art by: Dan Mora
Colors by: Raúl Angulo
Letters by: Ed Dukeshire

A Slayer’s work is never done, but if your watcher is nice enough, you may still get a night off from killing monsters. In Buffy #4 Giles allows the Slayer and her friends to go on a much needed night off. In the preceding issues Xander has quietly resented his friends for not hanging out with him as much. So this night off surely must be a happy occasion for Xander? Wrong.

The Scoobies decide to go to a horror movie night at the Bronze. Because even on a night off, these kids would like to see more monsters. Unfortunately for Xander, Willow adds some fire to the fuel of his ‘it’s not fair’ schtick, by inviting Robin Wood to the Scoobies’ movie night. Robin Wood has been reinvented as a high school student rather than the school’s principal. This reinvention makes sense, as it allows for Robin and Buffy to be on even footing. But of course Robin is everything Xander dislikes; athletic, friendly, and able to talk to girls without crushing insecurity. All of which are within reach for Xander, if only he let go of the huge chip on his shoulder.

Bellaire has put her finger on the uncomfortable truth of the character of Xander. In the previous Dark Horse run of Buffy comics, Xander had grown as a character from the preceding TV show and managed to quash some of his insecurities. But the truth of Xander is, that in today’s context, Xander’s hang-ups and character traits are a lot less affable. Instead Xander is quietly resentful of the fact that he doesn’t get the girl and resentful that he does not get the attention he’s entitled to. These are the kinds of seeds that lead to young men finding solace in more radical groups, that promise the respect a man deserves.

Any worries about whether the reboot would be in good hands are wiped away by these extremely strong first 4 issues. Issue 5 will hopefully reveal the strength of Xander’s character. And I think that is the first time that the end of an installment of Buffy leaves me wondering: ‘what will Xander do next?!’.

8/10

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