REVIEW: ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ Issue #3

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #3

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #3 is published by BOOM! Studios and is the third issue in the revamping of Joss Whedon’s classic series of the same name. Written by Jordie Bellaire, with illustrations from Dan Mora, colors from Raúl Angulo, and letters by Ed Dukeshire, issue three picks up where the last left off as a big demon hunting bat creature smashes Anyaka’s magic shop.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #3 we get to see more action and baddies than before. After Drucilla accidentally unleashes a vampire hunting demon bat from Anyanka’s store it begins to run through Sunnnydale, dead set on exterminating vampires. With Spike now in the picture fully, the cast is rounding out with the character dynamics and new personalities beginning to unfold. But the best part of this issue is the introduction of first non-humanoid big-bad.

Like I’ve said before, this update on the Whedon classic is not only updating the year but the characters as well. Willow has a girlfriend already, Xander is isolated, Drucilla is not a wilting flower anymore, and Anya is playing the middle already. But the largest character update is Cordelia.

Cordy is no longer the character that avoids fighting in order to save herself. She is aware of others and actively tries to help, even putting herself in danger. She is closer to the women we know at the end of her tenure in the Buffyverse than she is the mean girl of Sunnyvale High. It’s refreshing, if not a little weird. As much as it’s weird to see Cordy being selfless, it adds much-needed depth to the character. Similar to creating Drucilla as the Dru we knew in flashbacks, intimidating and powerful, Bellaire is bringing out the best parts of the characters early on.

Where there is change, there is also consistency. Giles is the dad librarian through and through and Buffy is the defiant yet noble daughter. Although there haven’t been much of their direct interactions showcased in these first three issues, Bellaire uses Buffy’s internal and external dialogue to outline their relationship in a way that has me excited for the development of their father-daughter bond through the series. Then, there is Spike. He is a presence with his signature red and black clothing making him stand out and leap from the page.

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer #3, there is a panel where he stands opposite of Buffy and I can already hear the ‘Spuffy’ fans crying out in joy. There is a tension in the way the two are drawn. Buffy is unaware of his power and he is unaware of hers. In all honesty, I am even excited about a new ‘Spuffy’ romance that can erase the problematic and scary one of the past. Could Bellaire be writing that now? Or is this for a later time, or even, not at all? The series has done well to change things in Buffyverse for the better which has left me in the dark of the future of the story while still in love with it as a fan of the original universe.

It’s also in this character design that you begin to realize that as much as Bellaire’s ‘Buffyisms’ work to keep the core of these characters intact, the illustrations from Mora keeps them recognizable in spite of updates. Spikes’, evil but oh so well defined cheekbones, blonde-white hair, and strong brow make him imposing.

Beyond killer adaptations of the on-screen counter parts, Mora’s creature design is yet again perfection. Much like the horrific and beautiful art of the spider-legged Scoobies in the last issue, the bat monster is imposing with his fur and head detailed in an exquisite way. Then you add in the red palette used by the colorist, Angulo, and it’s creature feature perfection. There is almost a tactile quality to the creature. His fur is distinguished in different reds, giving it depth and his long extremities, thin and hairless are clawed nightmare factories. The attention to detail on the monster is visible in the veining of his bat wings and the illustration of his teeth.

As a pair, Mora and Angulo have proven, in two issues their ability to create horrific designs that suit Sunnyvale and Hellmouth perfectly. This was also shown in the exquisite execution of bumpy vampire faces shown in issue number one. This is taken even further with the way Mora illustrates action. By showing the characters and creatures fully interacting with their environment there is a fluidity in the action sequences. When Buffy battles the big bad bat, I can add in pieces of choreography in between the panels, leaving me excited to see more action in the future.

Ballaire and Mora have been able to pull off a feat I didn’t think possible. They’re able to both keep the cores of the characters intact in personality and appearance while also moving them well-passed the tropes that weighed them down, early in the television series’ history. There is enough familiarity for me as a fan but also enough updates to make the story fresh.

All that being said, Buffy the Vampire Slayer #3 also leaves with my biggest critique since the start of the series. The Scoobies, as much as love that they have been moved to past their hinderances of personality in these three issues, they are also more competent to the ways Buffy’s slaying world. Now, this may seem like a natural progression, but with the time between issue one and two being small, and two and three being back to back, when did the Scoobies become capable?

Xander and Willow by no means need to remain the people getting in the way and holding Buffy back in fights, but their capability in a fight is off-putting. This may be a gripe from my position as a fan of the television series, but the journeys the pair go through to come into their ability to help without hindering is some of the best character development. Now, this could mean that the two can be slotted to become even more helpful in this comic series, but even so, there is no path to this point. Instead, they just show up ready to join the fight and don’t get in the way, but actually help.

Overall, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer #3, this series has the burden of needing to maintain the characters from 20-years ago while also updating a franchise steeped in the 1990s to 2018. It’s no small feat, especially with hardcore Buffy fans picking up issues. That being said, the series is a success in honoring the source material when it needs to and deviating to tell a new story that has me excited for new plot points and ideas. Although this isn’t the first Buffy comic series, it has the unique position of not continuing but rebooting, which is a massive weight to carry. But damn, is it carrying it without breaking a sweat.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #3 is available to purchase now.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #3
5

TL;DR

Overall, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer #3, this series has the burden of needing to maintain the characters from 20-years ago while also updating a franchise steeped in the 1990s to 2018. It’s no small feat, especially with hardcore Buffy fans picking up issues. That being said, the series is a success in honoring the source material when it needs to and deviating to tell a new story that has me excited for new plot points and ideas. Although this isn’t the first Buffy comic series, it has the unique position of not continuing but rebooting, which is a massive weight to carry. But damn, is it carrying it without breaking a sweat.