Boom Studios reimagined look at the universe of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ continues with a really great character-focused issue forging a new friendship duo bonding over the trauma that being a slayer brings. A heavy and deep issue that still finds ways to have fun and continues to find ways to spin familiar characters in new directions and roles to give this 25-year-old franchise different life.
With well-known characters that are to the point of having been in the public consciousness for multiple decades, it can be difficult at times to find ways to really do new stories of a surprising nature with them. The Vampire Slayer though makes it seem very simple.
With the first issue, Sarah Gailey focused on just setting up this new status quo of Willow as the slayer, with Buffy seemingly unaware of having ever been the slayer, getting right into a big battle to showcase what the characters are doing in this changed world. Mysteries of this level have a shelf life where going too long without answering the hows can dilute the story or feel dragged out. Gailey avoids that by getting right to it in the second issue, while also giving us a really great character-focused issue.
Through Willow and the introduction of this universe’s version of Faith, we get a look at what being the slayer means through new eyes, and relationships that long-time fans were used to are turned around giving us new avenues to explore. Faith and Willow the slayers is a really cool duo, and it was nice to see Faith take Willow under her wing to help train her to help deal with the responsibility that magic thrust upon her. Keeping the issue to basically the two of them and Giles, with Buffy only showing up at the very end, was a good choice because it not only gave us the background to what changed in this world but gave us room to get to know these versions of the characters far better.
We get an artistic change from the first issue with Sonia Lee taking over from Michael Shelfer who drew the first issue. While Shelfer’s artwork has a lightness to it (with weight and depth) which fits the monster of the week sort of focus of that issue, Lee’s artwork has a slightly rougher quality to it which fits the tone of this issue. Willow talks about trauma and how she’s dealing with it, and Lee’s artwork makes that trauma something that can be felt. There is a ton of detail and depth with inherent darkness lurking with some of the shading that can be found in various areas of panels.
Valentina Pinto is still on colors with assistance from Ricardo Giardina, and they complement the heaviness of the artwork with their color work. There are bright colors not just darker or shadowed tones, but there is a darker filter and tone added to them all that helps with that overwhelming feeling that the characters are dealing with at this moment. There is a page early on that is horrifying, and the imagery sets that tone, and the colors highlight and enhances the horror to an even higher level.
There is still a bit of the smooth nature to the colors that we saw in the first issue, but there is also a roughness to them to match the energy of the artwork. It all fits thematically because in that first issue Willow was coming off as sure of herself as the slayer from an outside perspective as everything was flashy and colorful, but here we see her perspective and the weight of it all can be felt through every page.
Ed Dukeshire makes sure that this heaviness is also felt through the lettering, as the emphasis is put on various places to make sure we hear the exhaustion coming from Willow as she shares her thoughts with us. Like many other letterers lately, Dukenshire likes to make sure that volume/tone is always clear by doing little things such as changing the size or style of the font so that we know that they are whispering or yelling or just talking normally the moment we see the given dialogue. Also, love the loud Vampire sounds that burst right out of their bubble because they are just that loud and powerful.
There isn’t a ton of action here so SFX are lighter, but that’s okay because the big right there in the moment perfectly rendered ‘Use It’ SFX that came during Willow and Faith’s slayer training was perfection. I got a chuckle out of it while also wanting to cheer them on, which means it did its work quite well.
The Vampire Slayer #2 is now available.