A Familiar Story Gets A Remix: Reviewing ‘The Vampire Slayer’ #1

by Scott Redmond

Overview

The Vampire Slayer kicks off with a story ripped right out of what most know about the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but gives it a bold new twist while leaving plenty of mysteries and intrigue on the table for future issues to explore. This is a fun issue that mixes things up but hits all the right notes for the supernatural fantasy feeling that this world does so well.

Overall
9/10
9/10

When it comes to long-running well-known franchises, the more stories that are told the harder it can seem to do something completely new or different from what has come before. A return to well-worn status quos or circling around the same eras/ideas are issues that come up all the time.

Sometimes though, with the right team of creators something different and unexpected can be achieved with known properties. The Vampire Slayer #1 is proof of this.

All the way back in 2018, BOOM! Studios became the new home of all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel when the license for the characters was moved to them from its longtime home of DarkHorse Comics. At the time the publisher kicked off a fully rebooted Buffy book that started at day one again and took things in different and familiar directions, giving birth to an Angel series after a big crossover, before it came to an end earlier this year with a big multiversal event.

At the time it seemed pretty clear that the book would be relaunched in some way, much like how Angel (which became Angel & Spike) ended before getting relaunched as a new very meta-style disconnected series, and of course, it did but not in an expected way. Taking a page out of the new Angel limited series, The Vampire Slayer is completely separate from that previous Buffy book and is closer in tone and seeming continuity to that of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series.

Not only that though, through some twist that we have yet to see Buffy has been replaced as the Slayer by a close friend and she and Xander have no memory that she was ever the Slayer.

With this first issue Sarah Gailey, Michael Shelfer, Valentina Pinto, Riccardo Giardina, and Ed Dukeshire have brought some new life to this now 25-year-old franchise in a totally unexpected way. There is a whole lot of the same sort of energy or style to this story as what Gailey brought to her recently concluded miniseries Eat The Rich (which everyone for sure needs to check out ASAP). Pairing that with the work of Shelfer, Pinto, Giardina, and Dukeshire is a perfect mix.

These characters feel familiar to what the audience of old will remember, without the weight of needing to know anything but the basics which makes it very reader-friendly and refreshing. Plenty of character and plot things happen but the overall issue is mostly a good old-fashioned battle with an otherworldly (giant Crab god) threat while the Scoobies quip and fight and save the day. Gailey has nailed all their voices, with enough room to mix things up with this new status quo.

Shelfer’s art has a lightness but weight to it, and meets that great middle ground where the characters resemble what we know without sliding into that far too close to the actor’s likeness realm. Plenty of depth and detail but also plenty of panels where the background focus is faded right out to make sure that the foreground is the focus it needs to be. Things are partially serious but there is a lot of that previously mentioned fun energy permeating this artwork.

This is enhanced by the colors that Pinto and Giardina bring to the table, with enough brightness to give life to the colorful and supernatural elements of the story while keeping a lot of darkness and shadows nearby to fit the darker tone and setting aspects of the story. Everything to do with the characters feels smooth in various ways while the giant Crab god and even some of the buildings feel naturally rougher in their depiction and their coloring.

Comic book SFX are fantastic, especially when they are huge in stature but also in their impact on the book. There is a lot of that here with the roaring of this crab God, and it’s terrifying and fun at the same time.

Dukeshire has been handling quite a bit of lettering with Buffy books lately and does such a great job of it all. All the voices are correct, and the lettering brings that character energy to it, alongside great little choices like bigger or smaller fonts to make sure the volume of any given statement would be.

The Vampire Slayer #1 is now available from BOOM! Studios.

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