[REVIEW] New ‘Buffy’ Comic Book Series from BOOM! Studios Is the Perfect Way to Revisit Whedon’s World.
It’s hard to believe that Joss Whedon’s beloved supernatural dramedy television series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” turned 22 a few months back. With it’s well-defined characters, witty dialogue, impressive creature effects and metaphorically weighty storylines, “Buffy” redeemed its lead characters good name from the poorly received theatrical feature which introduced her in the early 90s and went on to run for seven successful seasons. The show, which was a critical darling and frequent awards nominee, garnered a sizable fan base throughout its run and beyond, building a cult following which remains strong today.
Due to its popularity and the expansive nature of the world Whedon crafted for it, it should have been a no-brainer that a sizable amount of tie-in material would result from the show. In addition to the spinoff television series, “Angel”, “Buffy” would see a number of different additions to its canon throughout the years – including novels, video games, and, perhaps most significantly, comic books. Beginning in 1998, Dark Horse Comics began publishing a line of “Buffy” and “Angel” comics, which told numerous tales set within the Buffyverse. Though many of the stories would be considered non-canon, Dark Horse would eventually publish the canonical, Whedon-produced “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” starting in 2007, which picked up after the events of the television series’ finale. The run was a success, and the company continued publishing Buffy books up through “Season 12”, which concluded in September of 2018.
Once that final arc was completed, comic publisher BOOM! Studios acquired the rights to the property and fully rebooted the franchise. Rather than continue on from the dense, layered mythology set forth by the television series and the dozens and dozens of issues of story found in the comics, BOOM! elected to create a jumping on point for uninitiated readers new to the characters and world that Whedon had created. In doing so, they started back at the very beginning, with Buffy in high school, having just met Xander, Willow and Co. for the first time. The twist? This iteration, while boasting characters bearing the likenesses of the original actors who played them, would be set in the present, with modern concerns like social media, cell phones, etc. altering the tales in subtle ways (even as far more major changes present themselves throughout the story).
Written by Jordie Bellaire and illustrated by Dan Mora, this new take on Buffy begins with an arc titled “Welcome Back to the Hellmouth” (a nod to the original show’s pilot), which finds Buffy juggling her fast food job, meeting soon-to-be-best pals Xander and Willow for the first time (while saving them from a vamp), and butting heads with her new Watcher, English librarian Giles. The first issue teases a storyline boasting magical jewelry which gives its wearers absolute immortality (even vampires), all while narrated by Xander via his blog. By the end of the very first issue, the first arc’s Big Bad has been introduced, teasing a surprising departure from what fans might expect from a retelling.
And that isn’t the only surprise this reboot has in store. Though the characters are perfectly rendered and the dialogue stays true to Whedon and feels like a mostly spot-on updating of his trademark snark, the story takes some fun detours from the original show. Rest assured, this is no mere retelling with cosmetic alterations to account for the contemporary setting.
Examples? By the end of the first four-issue arc, longtime fans may have been shocked to see that: Willow is already out, with a girlfriend named Rose; Anya runs a neutral magic shop that caters to vamp and slayer alike; Drusilla and Spike are introduced very early as the lead villains; Wolfram and Hart, the antagonistic law firm from “Angel”, is name-dropped; and Cordelia Chase is introduced as a kind, well-meaning member of the student body, as opposed to the bitchy mean girl initially presented in the original show.
As penned by Bellaire, this Buffy comic is a welcome return for the character, acting as a perfect welcome for new readers while welcoming old fans with open arms. The characters and dialogue are true to their source, while the story benefits from the lack of any TV show-level budgetary restrictions (the introduction of red Kaiju bat Camazotz, a Slayer protector that Buffy dubs her own personal “Pegasus”, could never have worked on the small screen in the mid-90s – but it’s incredible on the page). Aiding Bellaire is Mora’s marvelous artwork, which perfectly captures the likenesses of the original actors and provides a real energy to the dynamic action sequences. Also worth noting is Raúl Angulo’s gorgeous color work, especially in the second issue’s stunning, nightmarish opening sequence.
With the first arc having just been released and the new issues coming out now, there’s no better time to jump aboard this comic. It’s a smart, respectful reboot of this beloved property, and one that fans of the character (and great horror comics in general) should give a shot. And for the diehards – it’s worth noting that Angel has not only made an appearance in the main title, but he already has his own spinoff book on the shelves now as well. While fans continue to wait and see if we’ll ever get another screen story featuring Buffy and Co., these comics are the perfect way to revisit Whedon’s world and enjoy the characters and their fantastic, strangely relatable struggles.
Here’s hoping you enjoy.
Original article at Bloody Disgusting
This article has been reproduced for archive purposes.