Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1
Written by Jordie Bellaire
Art by Dan Mora and Raúl Angulo
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by Robert Reed
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Buffy, Xander, Willow, and the denizens of Sunnydale are back - but not quite as we know them. While the previous series existed within the same continuity as the television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 presents a fresh start in the modern era. Written by Jordie Bellaire with art by Dan Mora and Raúl Angulo, the debut honors the legacy while carving out its own mark.
From the opening lines, it becomes clear that this isn’t quite the Buffy readers know. She types on a computer for one. Jordie Bellaire captures the voice of Buffy Summers through the use of an electronic journal (rendered beautifully by letterer Ed Dukeshire). It’s a change that new readers might not be able to appreciate, bringing forth a stark contrast to the television show that had to adapt to there being a computer in every home.
It’s the smallness of the changes that allow Jordie Bellaire to ease readers into this new world. As Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 progresses, the world becomes simultaneously more familiar and more alien. Characters are introduced slowly and with distinct voices. Dan Mora’s artwork helps in this process, capturing the likenesses of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, and Nicholas Brendon (and maybe a few more familiar faces). There’s always a concern with licensed comic books that the memorable live-action characters won’t quite blend with the other characters, but Mora has found a nice middle ground in the detail that makes them both recognizable and fully integrated in their world on the page.
The visual balance between the dialogue and artwork is really exceptional. A page in which Buffy receives a note in class is rendered completely without dialogue, which allows the reader full immersion in the moment. Mora also does well with the action sequences. It’s not much of a spoiler to say that vampires are slain in this book, and Mora crafts some entertaining combat that helps establish the Slayer concept. Raúl Angulo’s saturated colors provide a lot to the story, keeping the tone adventurous rather than dour, while also allowing for rich shadows in the artwork.
Bellaire, Mora, Angulo, and Dukeshire build this world beautifully, and neither die-hard Buffy fans nor curious new readers should feel alienated. In part because of the familiarity, the issue is able to avoid a lot of the expository woes that plague debut issues. Buffy fans may feel the issue starts too small – that sense of newness that exists in the periphery of the pages may create some anxiety that this wasn’t quite new enough to justify the jettisoning of prior continuities.
Ultimately, Jordie Bellaire and Dan Mora have found the right pace for this new adventure. Rather than rush through a Wikipedia section of “Differences from the Source Material,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 makes its mark by putting the characters first. Strong character moments make the book stand out, and that makes it the perfect new start.