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Buffy The Vampire Slayer: volume four Frenemies “Ring of Fire”

Jordie Belliare, writer

Rosemary Valero O’Connell, artist chapter 13

Julian Lopez with Moise’s Hidalgo, artist chapter 14

Ramon Bachs, artist chapters 15 and 16

Raul Angulo, Eleonora Buini, and Fransesco Segala , Colorists

Ed Dukeshire, Letters


This book includes issues 13-16 of the current series, which begins with the backstory of Kendra, the new slayer to enter Sunnyside, and ends with Buffy and Kendra hashing out their relationships while fighting new and old foes. The graphic novel begins by providing insight into Kendra’s character, her earliest teacher, and her call to be a slayer. It transitions to a slice of life arc that resets Buffy as a high school student post Hellmouth and the loss of all of her friends. The book pivots again to showing the differences between Kendra and Buffy and what makes it hard for them to get along. Finally, the book ends by providing a common enemy that forces the two slayers to find common ground. 

I love the first half of this graphic novel for the granular view of Kendra’s upbringing and the art style. Kendra is this sassy little girl with superpowers being reigned in by her elder with the backdrop of the country of Jamaica. The narrative begins:tourists are not only ruining the country but they’re being attacked and turned to vampires, which is reeking havoc as well.  We learn what Kendraknows, how she became the confident slayer she is in the current time, and the mechanism that placed her in Sunnyside 

The middle issues are important reminders that these are teenagers, with young people’s hopes and dreams, and their drama. I enjoyed being pulled back into the lens of a young girl who is concerned about friendships, trying to find autonomy, and struggling with the right closeness and distance with friends and family. Ultimately, the story challenges Buffy’s independence and her need to always take on challenges alone while acknowledging her need for relationships and help. For example, she’s never have another slayer, like Kendra, now she must learn how to work with someone who is her equal rather than always taking on the role of the hero.

Ultimately, there is nothing like a good enemy to bring two frenemies together. And, that is what happens in this story. Kendra and Buffy are confronted by a new threat which targets Giles, the watcher for Buffy, through Giles’ partner. The attack leaves Giles vulnerable and gutted emotionally. Therefore, Kendra and Buffy have to be each other’s eyes and ears. To cloud the circumstances even further, the enemy was a former close friend to Buffy, which distracts her from having a clear perspective. The dynamic places Kendra in the unique position of helping Buffy, something Buffy is not comfortable accepting. 

The story is unique yet relatable. Especially the parts where Buffy faces important challenges like, where does she go for support and help? Who can she relay on? And, Who can listen to her and relate to her challenges. The answer is right before her eyes, she just has to face up to a few things first.

The art is perfect, especially in issue 14, which was the highlight of the book visually. It captures the emotional tone of the story: a high school girl returning to her life after fighting a cosmic level threat. The characters are playful, moody, engaged, pulling away, struggling with finding their place in the story – and the art captures these things with beautiful renderings of emotion-packed faces on the backdrop of small town scenery. I highly recommend this graphic novel for fans of Buffy and of this evolving landscape of Sunnyside. Overall = 9.5/10  

I am a licensed clinical social worker and trauma therapist. Comic book heroes have been a passion of mine since I was a small child. However, making the weekly trip to the local comic book store to redeem my pull list has become a regular occurrence only…

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