New Era, Same Old Dangers: Reviewing ‘Buffy The Last Vampire Slayer’ #02
by Scott Redmond
Buffy The Last Vampire Slayer bucks the trends of most nostalgic stories by taking what is known and building off it to reinvent the franchise and present a vision of what could have been or still could be. In just two issues this team has created a world that would be very interesting to see explored well beyond the four-issue confines of this mini-series, as there are so many avenues and characters and aspects yet to be seen.
One of the beauties of stories that ask the simple question ‘what if?’ within ongoing stories/franchises, is that it often gives us a glimpse of what could happen to characters if they are allowed to age and grow, or their worlds are allowed to be really shaken up. While the franchise that has grown out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer over the years has taken many world-altering leaps, a prolonged glimpse of what the future might have been like for the beloved characters is an interesting one.
Much like the first issue, Casey Gilly fills the pages of this second one with a lot of backstories (namely about Willow and Tara and their daughter Thessaly) and exposition. What keeps it flowing and intriguing is not only the bits of character seeping through but the fact that stuff like the flashbacks is intercut with what is happening in the present day of the story. We get to see Buffy and Thessaly interact in various ways that feel real, we get some really great back and forth between Buffy and Anya again, and then some action as the overall plotline begins to become a bit clearer.
Stories like this rely heavily on characters, especially when the story is about very popular iconic characters, and that is not lost at all here. Building lore is something that can be very fun but it needs to be balanced with other aspects to truly hit otherwise it becomes an info dump. There isn’t a single moment of this that feels like an info dump because there is emotion and humor and power behind what is being presented.
Despite pulling heavily from the franchise’s past, there is not that overwhelming sense of nostalgia that can often be found in projects like this. There is respect and love for the characters and what happened before, but that has been taken and allowed for a reinvention to occur to build something beyond what came before.
Art wise the work of Joe Jaro and Joana Lafuente follows this same energy, as the characters we know appear just like they always have without going for that photo-realistic exact copy of the actor’s image that we can sometimes see in adaptation. We see the similarities, aged up as they are, and the energy of those characters just radiates off them and does the rest of the work for us mentally. Again, showing love and respect for the franchise while in a way making it partly their own thing which is really nice.
As there are a lot more talking scenes before the action, they are framed and brought to life in ways that help boost the energy and make them feel appealing to move through. It being beloved characters help, but even though this is a sort of post-apocalyptic story of a kind there is a lot of bright colorfulness to be found here that makes things feel warm and inviting. Yet, muted and shadowy at the same time befitting of the darkness and sense of loss that permeates this series and the characters that are still around.
We get a ton of that aforementioned energy from Ed Dukeshire’s lettering, where we can see personality flares within the way specific words are emphasized or the way bubbles change for characters once their demonic sides take over. Anya and the vampires get a lot of those changes, and it makes things stand out more and reiterates that a change is happening when they let that other side come into play.
Buffy The Last Vampire Slayer #2 is now on sale in print and digitally from BOOM! Studios.