Avoiding Third Wheel Syndrome: Reviewing ‘The Vampire Slayer’ #3

by Scott Redmond


Boom’s reinvention of the Buffy universe continues as this character-heavy series turns its gaze towards one Xander Harris, often the odd one out in a world full of slayers, watchers, witches, and vampires. Every aspect of this modernization of the Buffy mythos just works because it not only knows and loves the characters but brings them into the 21st century with graceful ease.


Creating a new take on a character or characters that have been around for decades and had various reinventions, doesn’t have to be something done in a huge way. Previously BOOM! Studios did a big relaunch/reboot of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe when they got the rights to publish comics back in 2018. Everything was started over again and characters were reintroduced, with some big changes made to many of them or their given paths.

Their latest series The Vampire Slayer is taking a whole other route.

What we get with this series is a version of Buffy that could have been almost ripped right from the television series, but yet its different. Not just with the plotline of Willow having the Slayer powers to save Buffy since it was destroying her. There are small and major changes made to many of these characters but they are just stated as matters of fact without needing to make big waves about them. Faith just comes into their world now rather than when they were in high school, Buffy works in a bar, Xander is a phlebotomist and he’s in a relationship with another man.

It modernizes this world in a great many ways without the need to shout that they have happened. It’s just part of who these characters are in this world and that is fantastic.

I like that Sarah Gailey is using each issue so far to really focus on specific members of the group with Buffy in the first and Willow in the second. Xander gets this third issue, and we get a deep peek into who he is and what he’s going through in this time, dealing with a boyfriend that he feels is ignoring him and a worm that wants to feed on his issues while becoming the first to meet the vampire Spike in this world. That relationship especially is intriguing because it turns the “they hate each other” relationship of the show on its head, and we’re given a version of Spike that is far more charming and cunning and willing to play the long game.

Michael Shelfer and Valentina Pinto are back in this issue with the art and colors, after taking the second issue off. I like how Shelfer’s artwork has a light sort of fun feeling to it that makes the darker and more dire aspects of the issue even more powerful in a way. All of the characters are very familiar-looking without diving too far into that uncanny valley sort of resembling the actors too much realm that licensed books can sometimes have. There are a ton of great paneling choices on display, using white space to divide panels and guide the reader while also letting panels overlap each other in really great ways.

Pinta’s colors have a bit of heaviness to them in many respects, with the addition of the shadows and darker colors to match the tone, while also having plenty of brightness to them. It’s quite smooth in execution, making sure all the supernatural elements really stand out from the more standard colors of the characters and their world.

Ed Dukeshire remains aboard to handle the letters and does it so well. Just like how I mentioned that the colors really go all out for the supernatural aspects, so too do the letters. Plenty of bubbles of various shapes and colors with fonts of varying sizes and colors to make things stand out as ‘not normal’ such as the speech of the Hallyx Wyrm. I’m always a sucker for the changes to dialogue bubbles for vampires between their vampire face and normal face changes, and we get that here well with Spike. Personality, energy, and tone are all quite clear and tangible within these letters and it’s really great.

The Vampire Slayer #3 is now available.

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