In Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1

An enjoyable first issue that's a fine introduction for new fans.

The covers: Fifteen different covers for this first issue from new home to the Slayer’s adventures, BOOM! Studios. The Main cover by Matthew Taylor shows the Slayer based on Sarah Michelle Gellar in a white long sleeved top, a pink camouflage jacket, and black skirt with yellow stripes on the sides. She’s holding a cell phone in one hand and a stake in the other. Behind her is Sunnydale High and a mass of silhouetted figures with glowing red eyes. The coloring is stylish, but too over the top: harsh pinks abound against a gray-black background. The coloring kills this for me. The Spotlight cover by Kevin Wada features a modern day Buffy just off the bus for school. She’s got on a black tee that says SLAY, torn blue jeans, a thin flannel shirt tied around her waist, and sporting an orange backpack. She casually tosses a stake in the air in anticipation of what the full moon in the pink sky promises. This is really nice. The Chosen One cover by Royal Dunlap features a Slayer on the west coast sitting atop a classic topless car. She’s wearing a rainbow shirt, a classic high school jersey in blue and white, matching blue shorts, tube socks with pink stripes, leather gloves, and white sneakers. She’s got some dried blood on her skin and clothes, but she still manages a slight smile against the sunset on the beach. Neat, but I don’t know who she is, so why would I buy this? An Episode Preorder Variant cover by Becca Carey is interesting, I’ll give it that. The cover is red, with pink words “Welcome to the Hellmouth” about a quarter of the way down. Below it is a really small photo of the entrance to Sunnydale High School in blue and pink. The school is situated atop a matching pink dais which spots a tube below it containing classic illustrations of medieval monsters, demons, and ghosts. Okay, but it’s just a lot of empty space to me. There are a pair of Variant covers from Jen Bartel. Willow, Buffy, and Cordelia are standing before an inside stairwell at Sunnydale High. They look much tougher than they did on the television series: Miss Rosenberg has on a powder blue denim jacket, green turtleneck, and torn blue jeans; Ms. Summers has her back to the reader to show off her black jacket’s back design featuring a SLAYER image, contrasted against her black leather skirt, pink tights and black leg warmers; Ms. Chase has on a Bengal tiger white tee, poofy pink jacket, and tight black jeans. Magical blue smoke comes from Willow’s snapping fingers and Cordelia holds a stake. Nice, though a little rough for what I’m used to seeing these three wear. The colors are really cool. The second Variant is the same illustration but is without colors. Neat to see the original work. Miguel Mercado has crated a cool Unlocked Choose Your Side: Slayer Variant cover. This shows a young woman from the nose of her bridge down. She smiles as she holds a stake to her chest. She’s wearing a white tee shirt and has short red hair, making me think I’m looking at Willow. This is awesome. Another cool cover is the Unlocked Willow Variant by Kaiti Infante. It’s a bust shot of everyone’s favorite witch from her left. Her hair is frozen as she turns her head and her mouth open in the beginning of happy recognition. She’s against a light orange and pink background. I love Willow and I love this cover. In the foreground of the Secret Slayer Variant cover by Dan Panosian a Vampire’s face emerges from the left, tongue out to lick the flavor from his fangs of the woman whose throat he’s just imbibed. In the background a door opens and a female figure in silhouette enters, a large stake in her hand. The doors are composed of squares of glass colored different shades of green and yellow. Neat moody piece, but I want to see the Slayer! Mercado has a second cover, it being the Unlocked Choose Your Side: Vampire Variant cover. This shows a female vampire from just below her nose to the start of her chest. She licks her smiling lips, revealing her fangs, as she beckons the reader to her with her right hand. I love this. It looks like the Slayer from his first cover has been turned! A sequel to her first frontpiece, the Unlocked Vampire Willow Variant cover by Infante has Sunnydale’s witch transformed into a vamp. This, too, is a bust shot, but the character is shown from her right with her head slightly inclined. Her eyes are orange, she has fangs, large hoop earrings, and a black jacket that features skull and butcher knife pins. She’s on a light violet and black background that makes the character’s hair and skin pop. Wow! I love this cover, too. The Secret Vampire Variant cover is also by Panosian and features the bad boy vampire Spike. He has his hands on his hips, looking down at the reader. His open mouth is wide in a smile, revealing his fangs and the blood that drips from them onto his Hawaiian shirt. Blues and blacks dominate this cover, with the reds for his eyes and the blood drawing attention. Really cool! The ALA Midwinter 2019 Variant cover by George Schall features the world’s greatest Watcher, Rupert Giles enjoying a cup of joe in the school library. The background is composed of books stacked sloppily on shelves and the character looks peacefully forward after undoubtedly enjoying a sip from his steaming mug, which proclaims KISS THE LIBRARIAN. The coloring is different, with pinks and yellows for Giles and dark browns with gold markings for the books. More traditional coloring would have been better. The only cover I couldn’t find an image of is the ComicsPRO 2019 Variant by Jonathan Case. Good luck with that one, collectors! Before the first issue ever came out BOOM! announced there would be a Second Print Variant cover by Amelia Vidal. This is a fantastic cover of Willow sitting in the grass, complete with daisies, with her legs crossed. She’s wearing a black choker, a short black tee featuring a simple illustration of a smiling devil, black jeans, and matching black hightops. An open book lies before her because she’s practicing a spell, as shown by the pens that she’s levitating. Great illustration and gorgeous bright colors. Overall grades: Main C, Spotlight A, Chosen One B-, Episode Preorder Variant C-, Bartel Variant colored B, Bartel Variant black and white B, Unlocked Choose Your Side: Slayer Variant A, Unlocked Willow Variant A, Secret Slayer B, Unlocked Chose Your Side: Vampire Variant A, Unlocked Vampire Willow Variant A, Secret Vampire Variant A+, ALA Midwinter 2019 Variant C, and Second Print A+

The story: Buffy is dying from boredom at the work. There’s nothing for the cashier at Tunaverse to do but look at the only couple in the store finish their meal. She asks to take her 15 minute break and is told, “You better come back this time, Buffy. You’re on octo-junk duty. It won’t scrub itself out of the sink, you know.” Going behind the store, she takes out her cell and sees the pair of customers walk away and attacked by a vampire. Buffy leaps into action, delivering a kick to the monster’s head, saving the ginger haired woman, and then smashes a box to create a makeshift stake. The creature recognizes he’s fighting the Slayer and says, “The rumors are true!…You really work at Tunaverse?” The couple are Xander and Willow, with the former asking their rescuer if she’s a superhero. Buffy says she isn’t, but she likes the idea that he thinks she is. Willow says, “You’re weird. I like you.” The pair saved, Buffy walks back into her paying job. This is a solid introduction to the reboot of this series that looks to retell Buffy’s adventures with changes. Writer Jordie Bellaire then moves to Sunnydale High School the next day with the pair spotting Buffy going into the library. They follow her because they want to befriend her and come upon the Slayer speaking with her Watcher, school librarian Rupert Giles. Awkwardness ensues. At home, Buffy’s mom (CRY!) Joyce asks her about her day, before the story transitions to a fight at night that has a surprise. Also surprising is where her foe goes, whom he speaks with, and what ultimately happens to him. The holy trio of this series is established and the book ends with a familiar femme fatale arriving to create some major trouble next issue. This was enjoyable, but I’m taken a bit back by the slight changes. The biggest being the inclusion of one character so soon in the storyline, but she’s my favorite so I’m very interested to see what happens with her. Overall grade: B 

The art: Dan Mora does really good likenesses of Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, and Joyce. The vampires also look like those created by John Vulich. The vamp’s attack on Willow and Xander on the second page looks great, with him looking threatening and the pair looking fearful. When Buffy kicks the bad’s face, its reaction to the blow is awesome and she looks incredible strong delivering it. When the title character takes a stand in the second panel on Page 3 she’s perfect. The staking of the vampire is good, with plenty of smoke coming out of the creature. I also like the location of the moon in the final panel on that page. The rescued couple’s reactions on Page 4 are terrific. I’m not keen on that full-paged splash for Page 5: did that need to be a full page? It doesn’t increase the emotional response, nor does it have interesting visuals. Sunnydale High looks just as it did on television and Xander’s antics before entering the library are fun. The library also looks as it did on TV and it’s curator looks good. Buffy’s emoting on Page 9 are excellent. I was taken back by seeing Joyce, for obvious reasons, but she looks fine. Page 10 is highly effective for how each panel is laid out and the reveal of the third and the shock of the fourth. Really cool! The first panel on Page 14 sets the scene beautifully. The character that’s encountered on the next page does not look like the actress from the show. This was disappointing as all the other likenesses had been so good. I love the final panel on 16 — gorgeous! The laughter and camaraderie on 17 is delightfully infectious. 19 introduces a new foe and she gets a full-paged splash on 20 that’s a great tease of troubles to come. I’m liking the art, though it does bug that my favorite character doesn’t resemble her screen persona. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Completing the art well are the colors by Raúl Angulo. The muted colors of the interiors of Tunaverse are those one associates with franchise dining. Buffy’s thoughts are given a dark blue so they stand out against the visuals and alert the reader that the Slayer is pondering something. The reds used for the vampire’s eyes on Page 3 are wonderfully luminescent. Sunnydale High is colored in muted tans and golds, giving the setting an aged feel. The next three pages have some really neat shading on characters’ skin, giving them a three dimensional feel. The fourth panel on Page 12 uses reds and blues extremely effectively to make the action intense. The coloring of the first panel on 14 sets the night well. The colors on 19 and 20 make the night time activity very believable. Overall grade: A

The letters: Ed Dukeshire creates Buffy’s thoughts, dialogue, whispered speech, yells, signage, a note, and the classy three word tease promoting next issue. By having Buffy’s thoughts in their own unique font allows the reader to instantly recognize what they’re reading after the first few pages. I like that. The dialogue is good, but is the same speech is used for humans and vampires. I would have preferred to see it be different fonts, as it would be an additional visual of how different the vampires are from humans. Xander has the book’s whispered speech early in the story and it’s easy to read and is funny due to its size, forcing the reader to hear it in a tiny voice. The sounds are solid, as is the signage and the sole note. The font used for the final three words is awesome. Overall grade: A- 

The final line: An enjoyable first issue that’s a fine introduction for new fans that maintains enough familiar elements to please faithful followers. It will take a while for me to get used to the changes in the story, but this was fun. The visuals are good, with the majority of characters resembling their television personas and the action being solid. Overall grade: B+

To order a print copy go to https://shop.boom-studios.com/comics/detail/9179/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-1-wada-variant

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer-1/digital-comic/741778?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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