It was honestly surreal to read the first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, from Jordie Bellaire, Dan Mora and Raul Angulo. That’s not at all to say it was a bad experience—in fact, far from it—but it was a weird one. After all, this was the first Buffy comic I’d ever read at a new publisher. From 1998 to 2018, all those comics had been published by Dark Horse. Much more than that, though, all of those Dark Horse comics had always kept—or at least tried their best to keep—the continuity of the show. When the show ended, we got the official season eight, which was a huge deal for me as a fan who was missing that show terribly. That continued into seasons nine, ten, eleven and twelve, until it felt right to bring that series, which had evolved so far beyond where the show had started, to an end.
And now here we are, back at the beginning. It’s even made clear in the issue’s title, “Welcome Back to the Hellmouth,” obviously a play on the first episode of the show. This feels exactly as I’m sure it’s meant to feel: like a fresh start. We’re back in Sunnydale, we’re back at the high school, and we’re basically back to basics. Buffy has to keep her identity as the slayer a secret, but she meets two new friends, Xander and Willow, who find out pretty quickly. It’s familiar territory, but there are some major curveballs thrown into this first issue as well, so it feels as if anything could happen from here.
Some of the biggest changes are made clear right out of the gate. This is not set in 1997. This is a contemporary reboot, but it interestingly mixes that with the likenesses of the actors, so that it genuinely feels like Buffy, but is still being retold from the ground up. Some of the major elements of the issue are influenced by things that happened much later in the show, like Buffy working at a fast food joint and Willow having already come out, and some characters make an appearance that did not appear in the show’s first season. This mixtape approach is exactly what I was hoping for, as it feels like pretty much anything can happen from this point forward.
Just as a speculative fan, I could easily imagine that this comic is actually set in an alternate universe. After all, Buffy was the show that introduced me to the concept of a multiverse in the first place, something that comics have always embraced and TV and movies have finally caught onto as well. It would be easy to imagine this reality existing parallel to the Buffy of the TV show. But it could also be more than that, especially as whatever’s happening seems to revolve around Anya.
Even though she died in the season seven finale, it would be possible to imagine Anya finding her way back, or even any vengeance demon getting one of the characters to say “I wish we could go back to the beginning.” If someone said something like that, the wish would be made a reality as simple as that, and it’s easy to think that it would look a lot like this comic looks.
Being this curious about where it’s going just feels like watching the show again, and that’s the highest praise I can give the issue. It’s new, it’s different, but man is it Buffy. Dan Mora’s art is dynamic. The vampires and action sequences are fantastic. The likenesses are there, but never distracting. It never feels like the characters are modeling, just talking. It flows incredibly well. The artwork, just like the story, is a new take on a series we’re incredibly familiar with. I know I just recently called Kiersten White’s Slayer the shot in the arm this mythology needed, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 just gave the whole concept a can of fresh paint and I am very excited to see where things go from here.
WICKED RATING: 8.5/10