We open Buffy #2 with a nightmare sequence. Fans of Buffy have seen that before. Part of the gig of being The Chosen One is getting premonitions – visions of the terrible things that could be coming. This feels different though. It’s not often we see Buffy Summers having a nightmare just out of fear.
The nightmare is jarring, and far more graphic than anything The WB would have put on TV back in the late 90s. Artist Dan Mora does an incredible job of bringing horror to Sunnydale as we witness the first few panels full of Buffy’s closest friends rotting and possessed, writhing their way towards her in a transformation that reminds me of the reveal of “The Other Mother” in Coraline, telling her she’s “failed them”. Giles, her protector, becomes perhaps becomes the most terrifying vision of all as the two of them are engulfed in flames.
And then – she wakes up. We are brought back to Buffy’s witty humor as she takes a few jabs at Joyce, her mom, and her mom’s boyfriend (which by the way I am all here for and I am dying to see Joyce get the attention and character development she deserves). We are thrown back into this sassy-posing, eye-rolling world of Buffy. Jordie Bellaire writes Buffy in the way only a fan could. The one liners and awkwardness that she brings feel so true to this character that you can almost hear Sarah Michelle Gellar speaking.
Through the issue we meet a familiar face with a fresh new take in the form of a kinder, earth conscious Cordelia. After an adorable scene of Rose, — Willow’s girlfriend — trying to boost Willow’s confidence, and a hilarious display of just how awkward Buffy actually is, we witness the return of some of Sunnydale’s biggest bads: Drusilla and Spike. Spike looks exactly how you remember – bleach blonde hair, scar above his eye, and his signature leather jacket. Drusilla, on the other hand is a surprisingly new vampire. Her all white power suit is a distinct contrast from the Victorian gowns she frequently sported.
There are certain aspects of these character reVAMPing’s that I’m so excited to see. I love that Cordelia is now a well-rounded person with concern for other human beings. I love that Anya gets to be a part of this story from the start, and that we get to see her as the Demon Witch we didn’t really get the chance to witness before. I love that Buffy references a deflector shield and notices that she sounds nerdier than Giles. But it’s also here where I start to struggle with my absolute love for this story, and the ability to separate it from its reference material. These characters are so iconic to so many, and if you are going to change up their clothes and their make-up, and heck even their ideals, why not take this opportunity to bring in more diversity and representation? We are introduced to two new potentially main stay characters: Rose, mentioned above, and Robin, a charming potential love interest for Buffy and a POC. So far this is the only character with a name that is not represented as Caucasian, which let’s face it is one more than the first 4 seasons of the TV show, but still. With this modern-day setting, part of me hoped to see one of the main characters be re-imagined with more representation in mind.
The issue ends with Xander. Ditched by his friends who have slaying duties and girlfriend duties that take priority over him. He sits, dejected, with his thoughts full of the harsh reality that he is alone. While the sentiment behind his feelings is certainly one that can ring true with so many, to end the story on this note feels like a bit of a letdown. Not but one page before we are introduced to a giant bat that kills vampires as Drusilla stands before it seemingly helpless. This is the page that makes me feel excited for the next issue — not Xander (sorry, Xander). This is truly the only action we get this issue at all, and then we’re swept to a page with panels full of moody blues and a pouting Xander, and it just leaves you feeling indifferent (sorry, again, Xander).
Overall, there are aspects of this story that will keep me hooked, no doubt. Dan Mora and Raul Angulo’s work on the first few pages are enough to keep me rushing to my local comic shop to pick it up next month. Buffy is still as endearing as ever and while I could probably read an entire trade of her and Joyce just having a mother daughter sass off, but I hope the next issue brings a little bit more to the table in both character development and pacing.