BOOM! Studios’ reboot of the iconic Buffy franchise continues to recontextualize the familiar without totally reinventing them. Personally, I think that’s a wise choice, as Joss Whedon’s original creation stands on its own, even today, but a fresh take that speaks more directly to a newer generation is not a bad idea, as sensibilities have evolved. As established in the first issue, even the core Scoobies have been shaken up a bit and remixed for a more contemporary feel. While Buffy is still the slayer dealing with balancing the weight of the world and her desire to be just a teenager (dealing with her mom’s live-in boyfriend, no less), with Giles serving as her oftentimes disapproving Watcher (We’re still very much in the infancy of their relationship, as Buffy has just recently moved to Sunnydale, a point that is brought up several times.), Willow and Xander show the most reshuffling of their character traits. While Willow seems to be pretty well-established as being an out queer character (She’s in a relationship with a fellow student, Rose.), Xander’s characterization seems to focus more on introspection, almost as a response to the criticism of some of his more toxic masculinity issues from the previous iteration.
Now that we’re done with the nitty-gritty, it’s probably noteworthy that aside from the core Scoobies, we’re getting reinvented versions of several other familiar characters in this issue, namely Anya and Drusilla (introduced in the first issue), Robin Wood (a co-ed at Sunnydale High), Cordelia Chase (erm… She’s overly nice?), and Spike (sorta introduced in an Angel-y way, bloody awful poetry yet to be seen). Some of this reshuffling may potentially upset long-time fans that are invested in Buffy’s romantic entanglements, but it’s all left up in the air for now. This issue seemed like setup for the rest of the arc, meaning that the plot isn’t progressed much, but we do get some great character moments.
Artwise, Dan Mora’s work captures a nice balance of dynamic shots and close-ups, with some really nice work on the expressions of the characters. His linework is clean, and it lends a certain lightness to the series, serving as a visual reboot to this iteration. Some of Mora’s best work happens right of the bat, with an opening sequence that manages to be creepy and insightful at the same time. Raul Angulo’s colors nicely complement Mora’s work, and I really like his lighting effects, especially with Spike’s introduction and Xander’s closing sequence.
I’ll be honest, I was initially apprehensive about a Buffy reboot. That being said, I think that Jordie Bellaire is doing some really good work here. The reboot serves up some familiar stuff but isn’t so precious with it that it all just seems like a retread. Bellaire’s take captures what it feels like to be a teen today, with all the trappings and sensibilities that feel more “now.” It’s “high school as hell” recontextualized, and this first arc seems to be about turning the isolation of being a slayer on its head a bit, with the narration being Xander’s thoughts. It’s actually pretty cool how Xander’s insecurities mirror Buffy’s deepest fears about being inadequate. I feel like it’s a comment on how despite how connected we’ve become with the Internet and cellphones, personal isolation is still a very real thing.
- No Mr. Gordo seen on Buffy’s bed.
- Jenny Calendar is a teacher at Sunnydale High (as referenced in the school bulletin).
- As per the same bulletin, the basement is still a no-go, and I wonder if that sinkhole under the science wing hints at where the Hellmouth is.
Final thoughts: While the Scoobies are definitely a thing (sSe the group text name.), they don’t quite feel liked they’ve totally gelled yet. Meanwhile, Drusilla’s plan for the Hellmouth smells a little like what the Master had envisioned in the original iteration. Oh, and I’m not sure how I feel about the Gossip Girl-style “Previously on…” blurb.
Creative Team: Jordie Bellaire (writer), Dan Mora (artist), Raul Angulo (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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