Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 // Review
On the first two pages of Boom! Studios’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot, Buffy Summers’ shift at work is interrupted as she saves Willow and Xander from a vampire. Don’t let that fool you, though—this may be a 23-year-old franchise, but this comic isn’t a retread, more of a remix. By dropping the Scooby Gang into 2019 and starting the story over, this comic is able to take familiar elements and build something surprising and unexpected.
Just as in the first season of the original TV show, we meet slayer Buffy Summers just as she and her Watcher, Rupert Giles, have settled in Sunnydale. Buffy doesn’t want to be a loner, and is thrilled when a chance vampire attack leads her to make friends with classmates Xander Harris and Willow Rosenberg. But trouble looms in the background with a mysterious magical artifacts dealer named Anya...
Writer Jordie Bellaire avoids retreading ground already covered in the TV series. There is no overwrought will-they/won’t they tension between Xander and Willow; in fact, this version of Willow is already out of the closet and has an as-yet-unseen girlfriend. In fact, Bellaire avoids fan-service (mostly, anyway), choosing instead to focus on establishing characters and situations. This may be a long-standing, beloved franchise, but this reads like a true first issue.
The art, by illustrator Dan Mora and colorist Raúl Angulo, is excellent. The storytelling is clear and the pacing is dynamic. Mora’s character designs are particularly strong; while the likenesses of actors like Sarah Michelle Gellar, Allyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendan, and Anthony Stewart Head are clear, the art doesn’t fall into the trap of stiffly attempting photorealism that many licensed comics do (see Marvel’s Star Wars titles for an example of this). The book shifts from action to horror to humor without missing a beat, thanks in no small part to the fluidity of Angulo’s colors. Letterer Ed Dukeshire does strong work as well, though a moment where Xander’s blog and Buffy’s captions use the same colors and typeface is momentarily confusing.
This debut issue is a promising beginning, reuniting the reader with beloved characters and dropping seeds for new and exciting storylines. After years at Dark Horse, it’s clear that moving the Buffy franchise to Boom! Studios was a great opportunity to revitalize the beloved property.