Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a show that resonated with myself, and so many of my friends growing up. It was the show that convinced my parents to extend my bedtime by an hour, just so we could watch together. It’s a show whose series finale left my mother speechless, my brother holding a triumphant fist up in the air a la Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club, and myself in tears that it was over.
The past few years have been a wild ride for Buffy fans. We’ve seen the 20th Anniversary celebrated with a clothing line from Hot Topic and a photo-shoot of the gang all back together again (minus our dear Giles), Buffy: The High School Years filling in lost stories from Buffy’s first year of high school, talk of a new TV series with a new slayer, a woman of color, in the spotlight, and now, this. After 20 years, five follow-up seasons, and several spin-off series, Dark Horse Comics has finished their time with Buffy, and BOOM! Studios has taken up the mantle with Buffy The Vampire Slayer #1.
Into every generation a slayer is born, and now it’s time for generation Z (or…whatever you want to call them). BOOM! Studios takes us back to the beginning, back to freshman year at Sunnydale High with your favorite members of the Scooby Gang re-imagined. Matthew Taylor’s cover immediately puts us in that frame of mind. We see Buffy, rendered in the likeness of Sarah Michelle Gellar, in her signature sassy stake holding pose with a smartphone and AirPods. This cover is eye catching and beautifully colored, with the bonus of making you think of that delightful meme going around: “Oh no…girl, a vampire, and she can’t hear us, she’s wearing AirPods”. This is a cover that if teenage me saw in my local comic shop, I would snatch it up in a second.
Re-imagining something that has over 20 years of content that has cult of followers is a huge undertaking, and BOOM! Studios found some capable hands to carry it out. Jordie Bellaire writes Buffy in a way that works for this new age. We get to see the eponymous slayer with some of the qualities we know and love, and some new.
She wishes she was back in the city where there is more to do, she makes sassy quips as she slays her foes, she has a part time job she’s embarrassed of, and she reads comics. This new Buffy feels familiar, and yet there is one major difference. What you might expect to see, the part about being called, meeting her watcher, having to train and learn how to slay — that’s all gone. We are instead introduced to a slayer who knows her calling, and has presumably done quite a bit of slaying already. While a part of me can’t deny I’m going to miss seeing Buffy come into her own, Bellaire endears us to the slayer with a running inner monologue that went through the head of every teenage girl and the energy of the narrative sits well in that new avenue without those norms intact.
There’s also so much to like about the way the comic is illustrated. Dan Mora’s character design and Raul Angulo’s coloring work hand-in-hand to transport us to the 21st century. We see Buffy in flannel, Xander in t-shirts and button ups — okay that’s pretty much classic Xander but hey, they look less wrinkled — and even Giles gets a new look with a more defined features a gray suit. That’s right, I said gray suit. Gone are the days of Giles’s signature tweed. The biggest character change however, is what we see with Willow. Originally the shy “nerdy” girl who took years to come out of her shell, as a badass queer who wears fishnets, crop tops and dark lipstick. Buffy looks strong, she looks confident (when she’s slaying, that is) and the fight scenes so far will have fans hearing that signature wail as the vampires poof into dust. And, the Scooby Gang aren’t the only things to grab your attention. In this modern-day Sunnydale, Mora provides us with vampires that actually look frightening, a magic shop full of items even Dark Willow would be afraid to use them, and panel after panel of scenery that fits the mood so well it could fit right into the TV show’s opening theme.
There is no denying this is very much a new Vampire Slayer. That being said, Bellaire is able to retain the underlying emotions, fears, and questions that Buffy, and almost every teenager I have ever known have: How do I balance school, work, and fun? How do I fit in? How do I please my parents and my friends? And most importantly, what is my place in the world? I can’t wait to see where this team takes the Chosen One and her gang, and what “Big Bads” will get taken down along the way. A very worthy reboot. Into every generation, indeed.