Available now, Boom! Studios’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer #17 combines the written talents of Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert. Artistic contributions come from illustrator Andres Genolet, colorist Raul Angulo, and letterer Ed Dukeshire. Continuing the Ring of Fire arc, the book welcomes Buffyverse favorite Watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Price, into the fold.
Wesley of the BtVS TV series was an uptight rule-follower, drawing the ire of his Slayer charge Faith, Giles, and the rest of the Scoobies. His run on the original series was brief, however, and he gained most of his popularity as a main character in the Angel spin-off. Played for laughs in the series, Wesley’s uptight nature was part of his charm and set the tone for his introduction in #17.
The book hilariously opens with Wesley writing self-insert fantasy fan-fiction. It reveals his strong desire to be a hero–and introduces the ghost of Ethan Rayne. Our favorite warlock interrupts the Watcher-in-training to alert him to a council meeting. Here, ghost-Ethan acts as Wesley’s conscience, prodding him for comedic effect and encouragement.
Ethan wants Wyndham-Price to stand up to the status-quo loving head of the Watcher’s Council, Dorothy. Mysteriously, three watchers and a slayer have died in the Cleveland, OH region. Ethan encourages Wesley to investigate and confront the council, partly blaming the murders on the council’s tendency to view Slayers and Watchers as expendable.
But despite Wesley’s desire for heroism, he prefers to be a “boot-licker” instead of a rabble-rouser. He’s a new Watcher, after all, and taking such a risk could lead to unwelcome council scrutiny. Fortunately for Wesley, being a boot-licker works in his favor as Dorothy sends him on his first assignment as a Watcher. He’s to guide an unexpected third Slayer, another apparent fluke of the Hellmouth battle.
With Ethan’s ever-present specter by his side, the new Watcher is welcomed to Sunnydale by a vampire. Shocked, he stakes the demon with Dorothy’s parting gift. Maybe he’s in over his head.
Characteristic fast-pacing and warm, saturated coloring provide the familiar, inviting backdrop to this exciting new subplot. The heavy use of wide shots emphasizes Wesley’s bashfulness, on occasion diminishing him so much that he almost blends into his environment. This artistic choice and others make issue seventeen a unique character study when compared to others in the series.
For one, Wesley’s interior self is revealed through the fanfiction instead of the more conventional choice of captions as employed in Kendra’s issue (#13). He also gets a purple Ethan ghost torso bearing a strong facial resemblance to the Watcher himself, acting as his conscience. These artistic choices ultimately streamline the story, making it more cinematic while complementing the overall tone and pace of the series.
Nonetheless, it’s the big stakes (in terms of both wooden weapons and plot) that entice. Will who or whatever murdered the Cleveland Watchers pose a threat in Sunnydale? And could this third Slayer possibly be… Faith?! We’ll just have to bite our nails in anticipation.