Writer: Jordie Bellaire
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Despite being off the air for over a decade, the adventures of Buffy Summers and the Scooby gang have continued long after the end of the epic series finale. Up until recently, Dark Horse Comics held the license to tell stories set after the events of the seventh season; however, that license has now moved to BOOM! Studios. This new series takes us back to the beginning with Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Giles returning to Sunnydale High. Not content with just rehashing the first season, it’s clear from the very first issue that this is a complete re-imagining of the original television series. Of course, revamping (sic) such a beloved franchise would be no easy feat, but is it worth the read?
Taking a slightly more modern approach, writer Jordie Bellaire introduces a Buffy that is instantly recognizable but has a few added wrinkles. She’s more of an introvert, acting both lonely and angry, not at all enthused by her role as the Slayer. However, her kind, yet snarky attitude is intact, and she can still kick butt like nobody’s business.
The way she handles the other characters we know and love has mixed results. Rather than simply transplant them into modern day, Bellaire uses the current landscape to develop and add new layers to the existing cast. Willow is still awkward and reserved, but is already openly gay (arguably much less taboo in 2019 than it was in 1999) and is even in a relationship. Xander, meanwhile, is still his quippy self, but he’s far less confident, showing signs of angst and depression throughout, which ultimately leads to one of the book’s most dramatic moments. Others, such as Cordelia and Drusilla, differ significantly from their television counterparts. Cordi is friendly to a fault, while Dru is evil but lacks the insanity she had in the series. In other words, they’re just not as interesting.
Bellaire, best known for coloring basically every comicbook ever, proves to be a capable writer and clearly has a lot of love for these guys. She manages to get each character’s distinct voice down-pat, but there are instances where the dialogue is weak and even repetitive. This improves with each issue, but it’s a far-cry from the snappy Whedon-esque lines that the show was known for. The story moves ahead at a good pace, especially in the second half of this four-issue collection. If you’ve managed to avoid spoilers, the final issue features some pretty intense reveals that definitely change the status quo.
The art by Dan Mora is simply fantastic in each issue. The core cast is depicted in subtle yet stylish versions of the actors who made them famous. They’re not photo-realistic, but each image is an homage to the actor, and it works very well. Like the writing, however, there are a few missteps. Fan-favorite characters like Anya and Harmony both appear, but end up bearing more than a resemblance to Buffy herself, resulting in some confusing panels. Raul Angulo’s colors work nicely with the modern aesthetic, and they are particularly effective during some of the book’s darker moments.