Review - Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 (@boomstudios)

"I think it's difficult to tell people what's really going on in my head."

Buffy sort of has a lot of baggage at this point. The movie and TV series were revelations and the Dark Horse comic was essentially a continuation of the series. There was a lot of mythos created around Buffy that it almost got to be too heavy on the underlying concept: a teenage girl is a vampire slayer. BOOM! Studios is going back to square one with the character and universe in Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1. The issue is written by Jordie Bellaire, illustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Raul Angulo and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

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 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.

It's very clear that Bellaire is rebooting the franchise and giving everyone a new start, introducing the reader to Buffy, Xander, Willow and Giles in the first issue and immediately starting their burgeoning relationship.
Bellaire's take on Buffy certainly isn't a new one per se--she's still a smartass high school student with a penchant for beating the undead and struggling to find herself. Just because familiar faces are present doesn't mean that Bellaire is tapping into previous storylines; rather, she's looking the new series accessible to new fans without alienating long-time fans. Bellaire spends most of the first issue getting through introductions and laying the groundwork for the series, pacing the issue very well. There are also plenty of nice nods to the previous incarnations of the character and universe, allowing Bellaire to demonstrate her appreciation of the source material.

Mora handles the artwork and does a remarkable job of capturing the looks of the actors who played the roles in the series. The linework is very refined throughout the issue, with Mora infusing the characters with a subtle delicateness that allows them to interact well with one another. Mora also does great things with perspective, giving many of the panels a depth that makes the world feel fully realized and immersive. The panels are very clean and organized throughout the issue, but Mora still manages to make the fight sequences feel relatively chaotic and fierce. Angulo's colors are rich and oftentimes the wardrobe of the characters are brightly contrasted against the dark, night backgrounds.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 is an extremely strong reboot of the franchise that capitalizes on the popularity of the property to this point. Buffy is given a modern feel that's both refreshing and entertaining to read, walking a fine line between tribute and reboot. Bellaire is locked in with the script, jumping right into the thick of it in getting readers (re)acquainted with the players and the new direction. Mora's illustrations are phenomenal for tapping into an anchor point visually in that his renderings of the characters hew very closely to their on-screen counterparts. Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 is the shot in the arm the franchise needs as it uses the concept as a strong foundation for plenty of new adventures.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 is available now.