BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #1 review

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BOOM! Studios)

You can pickup your copy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

Go back to the beginning as the critically acclaimed pop culture phenomenon Buffy The Vampire Slayer is reimagined under the guidance of series creator Joss Whedon. This is the Buffy Summers you know, who wants what every average teenager wants: friends at her new school, decent grades, and to escape her imposed destiny as the next in a long line of vampire slayers tasked with defeating the forces of evil. But her world looks a lot more like the one outside your window, as Jordie Bellaire (Redlands) and Russ Manning Award-Winner Dan Mora (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers) bring Buffy into a new era with new challenges, new friends…and a few enemies you might already recognize. But the more things change, the more they stay the same, as the Gang faces brand new Big Bads, and the threat lurking beneath the perfectly manicured exterior of Sunnydale High confirms what every teenager has always known: high school truly is hell! WELCOME BACK TO THE HELLMOUTH, FOR THE FIRST TIME!

Review

Anyone who has been following my reviews will know I have a love-hate relationship with Buffy comics. Each year I say I won’t read the latest ‘season’ because I had issues with the previous one. Each year I still read it and end up grumbling about poor mid season pacing.

So here we are again Super Friends. A new series of Buffy but not a new ‘season’. Instead we’re back to season 1 but from a new, contemporised, angle. This time around we also have a new creative team and a new publisher.

So is this new Buffy the Vampire Slayer worth the read… hell(mouth) yes it is!

Everything about this book screams creative reinvigoration. The character designs are some of the best I’ve seen in a Buffy comic. Dan Mora has found a way to echo the facial expressions of the actors without becoming beholden to replicating their exact appearance. There are flashes of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan and Nicholas Brendon throughout the book but the characters are still able to live and breathe as their own entities.

Similarly, though this isn’t a re-telling of the series pilot there are still familiar locations. Mora has rendered Sunnydale High, particularly the library, exactly as it is seen on the show.

The vampires are a little bulkier; Joyce looks a little younger and there’s (currently) no Dawn but on the whole you will feel safe in familiar surroundings.

But make no mistake, this is not entirely the Buffy we know and love.

Writer Jordie Bellaire injects a good amount of fresh twists on the mythology of these characters. She also sets out the book like an episode of the show. There’s a short teaser before the credits and then the bulk of the story comes after.

Buffy is once again new in town. There’s no mention of burning down the highschool gym but Joyce does ask her if she has managed to find trouble yet. When we first meet her she is working in a fast food joint, no it’s not the Doublemeat Palace.

In this universe (more on that later) she’s working in the Tuna Verse. A restaurant being frequented by Xander and Willow when they are attacked by a vampire in the parking lot. Buffy swoops in to save the two with the first dusting of the series and this serves as the characters new first meeting.

There’s something electric about seeing this moment for the first time again. There’s such a flair to Bellaire’s writing that I really felt like I was watching the pilot all over again for the first time. I actively felt myself falling in love with the characters all over again.

Xander and Willow are equally reflective of their live-action counterparts. Xander is hapless and easily falls in love with Buffy. He spends much of the issue moping around following her. It’s his intrigue over being rescued by this mysterious new girl which brings the two in to the library.

Willow is perhaps the most altered of the OG Scooby characters. There’s a casual mention that she has a girlfriend and there seems to be a little more rebellion about her than we are used to. It was fun to see her being excited by the idea of witches knowing where her original story would ultimately end up.

There are fleeting glances of a few other Buffyverse characters in this issue, namely Giles; Anya and Drusilla. Giles appears briefly in the library scene, he’s cold and uninviting to Xander and Willow. He also shows genuine anger at Buffy for revealing herself to fellow students. This is long before the two have the loving father-daughter relationship of later seasons of the show.

Anya’s appearance will come as a surprise to many. Introduced in season 3 of the live-action series here we find her once again in charge of the magic shop. This time around it’s more of an underground magic speakeasy however. Her intentions are mysterious for the time being and it has not yet been revealed if she is, or has been, a vengeance demon.

Lastly Drusilla appears in the final panel of the book. She’s clearly altered from her TV appearances but I don’t want to spoil the ending.

Reconextualising the story has instantly refreshed the franchise. We’re immediately in unknown territory with a set of characters we felt we already knew inside out. I’m sure some will be unhappy with the changes but I found the entire book exciting to read.

It’s now been confirmed the reason for these changes will become apparent as we move down the line. Could this be an alternate universe? Has time been altered much like when Dawn was first introduced? I cannot wait to find out what is going on.

Verdict

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is back and means serious business. This creative refresh has presented up with the most original version of the franchise since its original debut in 1997.

This is Buffy 2.0. Fresh writing and character designs have brought a new creative energy which makes the book electric from start to finish. Overall an outstanding start to this new series.

9/10

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1, by Jordie Bellaire, Dan Mora and Joss Whedon, is set to be released on Wednesday, January 9 from BOOM! Studios.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 cover art by Matt Taylor

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About Neil Vagg 2760 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG