'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' #1 Review: A 21st-Century Spin on a Modern Classic

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Boom

Buffy Summers is back in a brand-new Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book series from publisher BOOM! Studios. The new series reboots the Buffy canon, Ultimate Marvel style, to present an intriguing, modern take on the Buffyverse.

Written by Jordie Bellaire, drawn by Dan Mora, and colored by Raul Angulo, the new series goes back to the beginnings of the Buffy mythos. Buffy Summers is still the Slayer, the one girl in all the world chosen to inherent superhuman abilities to fight vampires and keep humanity safe from demons and other creatures of the night. She is once again a new student at Sunnydale High School, where she attends class by day and patrols the area for bad guys at night. She lives with her mother, Joyce. She's overseen by her watcher, Giles. She makes friends with her classmates, Xander and Willow.

Aside from the fact that the story is taking place in the 21st century instead of the late 1990s, this is all pretty familiar ground for Buffy fans. The differences start to show in characterization. Buffy seems pretty consistent with her television series counterpart. She’s at the stage where she’s only begrudgingly accepting her responsibilities as the Slayer. She and Giles have a tense relationship, with Giles putting a lot much pressure on his young Slayer. Joyce is still oblivious to her daughter’s “extracurricular activities” and can’t help but remind Buffy of the all the trouble she’s gotten into. This Buffy does seem more reserved and resigned than she did in the TV show’s high schools years, coasting through her fast food job and shying away from social entanglements.

The most striking change actually comes from Willow. Fans will remember that Willow was a timid social outcast early in Buffy. In their first interaction, Willow basically apologized for potentially ruining Buffy’s standing with the in-crowd. Here, Willow is confidently extroverted. She’s the one who reaches out to Buffy, offering approval and friendship. The confidence, as well as the fact that she’s already out as a lesbian, makes her feel like the more developed Willow from the middle seasons of Buffy’s TV run.

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(Photo: Dan Mora, Boom! Studios)

Mora draws the characters so that they are recognizable, but not distracting. The characters look like the actors who played them, but Mora’s thin lines, used sparingly, create an impression of the actor, not an exact recreation. It’s a great fit, allowing him to flex emotional muscles in the characters and easily shift to more action-packed moments. Angulo’s colors establish compelling moods and environments, creating a chilling atmosphere with blues in the graveyards, a sense of safety and secrecy with browns and shadows in the library, and impact with red when a Buffy lands a blow.

The artwork and characterizations are all there, but the issue only offers hints at the story to come. This feels like an introduction to our players and our status quo just before it is all disrupted by the newcomer who appears in the issue’s final pages. There’s another twist that comes in from the narration as Bellaire plays a bit with readers’ expectations; it raises some interesting new questions about another Buffy character (we won’t say which one here) that fans should be eager to explore.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 feels like it’s setting the stage for much bigger things to come. It’s an overture that sets up a world that will feel familiar enough for Buffy fans to feel comfortable while hinting at unexpected twists to come. Mora and Angulo’s provide great, clean visuals. It's a little too early to say, based what little we’ve seen so far, if the changes to Buffy and her supporting cast work well or not, but Bellaire does have an obvious handle on who those characters are and a clear idea of how to play into and against the expectations of longtime fans. The clean slate of this Buffy series will also offer comic book fans who have heard about Buffy but never taken the plunge into the television series an opportunity to find out why the show’s characters and mythology have stood the test of time for so long. Buffy fans new and old will likely find themselves hooked on this modern reimagining of the Buffyverse.

Published by BOOM! Studios

On January 23, 2019

Written by Jordie Bellaire

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Art by Dan Mora

Colors by Raul Angulo