Mirka Andolfo and Siya Oum’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tea Time is a what-if one-shot that poses the question, “what if Giles was a vampire?” Tea Time is part of Boom! Studios line of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, which act as a modernized reboot of the tv series created by alleged abuser Joss Whedon; set in the modern-day, the comics have little to do with Whedon beyond his name being on the covers.
As I mentioned earlier, Tea Time is a what-if story wherein Rupert Giles; Buffy’s watcher (a mentor for slayers), is a vampire. Right of the bat, Tea Time was not at all what I expected it to be. For starters, rather than being a single story, Tea Time is framed as several stories that the Scooby Gang (in this story consisting of Buffy, Willow, and Xander) tell as they research the monster of the week; a vampiric altar.
Xander’s first story opens the issue and positions him as the hero saving the day, referring to himself as the heart of the team in the process. It’s also very much not rooted in reality, with Buffy even pointing out how “Xandercentric” it is. As well, Xander’s first story emphasizes both Giles being British and his role as the team (specifically Buffy)’s mentor and his role as a librarian with Giles’ tombstone even reading “Beloved Librarian.”
On the other hand, the first version of Willow’s story shifts the focus to Giles’ expertise in the occult, placing him as a vampiric cleric performing a ritual to blot out the sun. Also contrasting Xander’s first version is that Willow’s takes on a darker tone (with a darker ending to boot). Her second version is a tad more light-hearted, with the Scoobies coming up on top – at the cost of Giles’ life; something that Oum’s art clearly shows having an effect on Buffy, especially considering that she’s the one who kills Giles.
After Willow’s second version, we get to see Xander’s second story. This time his takes place at The Bronze, Sunnydale’s only club, where Giles and the rest of the older population of Sunnydale attack; revealing themselves to be vampires. As you can tell, this story is just as fantastical as Xander’s first. This time rather than focusing on Giles being British, Xander chooses to focus on the fact that he’s old; something that Giles calls out, along with Xander’s focus on Giles’ Britishness in the first story when he eventually decides to tell his version of events – more on that later.
Buffy’s story isn’t one that she tells so much as imagines when Giles eventually asks her to recount her version; in it, she imagines herself joining Giles, even referring to him as her father at one point. Andolfo hones in on the fact that Giles acts as a father figure to Buffy and uses that in Buffy’s story to show how Buffy perceives him.
Across the book, Siya Oum’s art is great; it’s consistent, feels dynamic when it comes to fight scenes, and the layout works really well; at times feeling like shots you would see in a tv show. Take, for example, the close-ups on eyes and faces in smaller boxes layered over larger panels. Most importantly, it’s easy to follow as the reader’s eyes are easily guided from panel to panel. Something like that can be easy to mess up and Oum handles it perfectly.
Complimenting the art nicely are Eleonora Bruni’s colours which are vibrant and elevate the art. Bruni is colouring several different types of scenes in this issue, with scenes taking place in everything from a graveyard to a nightclub and each of page looks just right, with the colouring fitting the mood of each scene to a “T”.
Tea Time does what a good what-if style story should; it offers a premise and delivers are the premise while being fun along the way. As well, it ends with a twist just for the fun of it. All in all, Tea Time is a good time and, in my opinion, worth picking up.