REVIEW: ‘The Vampire Slayer,’ Issue #1

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The Vampire Slayer #1

The Vampire Slayer #1 is part of a new Buffy universe published by BOOM! Studios, written by Sarah Gailey, art by Michael Shelfer, colors by Valentina Pinto with assists by Riccardo Giardina, and letters by Ed Dukeshire. In this brand new series, a giant crab monster is attacking Sunnydale. Giles, Willow, Xander, and Buffy group together to try and defeat it. But Willow must try and fight it on her own because Buffy is no longer a slayer…

The plot of this issue is a clever misdirection. Set up like a standard monster attack situation, it has the air of a usual Buffy adventure. The gang is together, preparing to take on the crab monster. Maybe the crab monster is a slightly strange first enemy for this series, considering the book’s title is the Vampire Slayer #1. But ultimately, it’s a giant monster that is threatening enough.  The story’s trajectory hints that something is different, but when the battle itself happens, that is when the biggest problem is apparent. The fight is full of energy and enthusiasm; the gang disorganized and struggling to maintain a rhythm. But it is also clear that what happened occurred before the beginning of this series, which was certainly unexpected. The mystery is intense and engaging but will surely come into its own as the series progresses.

The beloved characters from a treasured universe are back, even if they are in a new series. Most of the characters are similar to those in the TV show and other media. The actual cast is relatively small, considering the size of the Scooby Gang. As it stands, it is only four, and it raises questions about which characters do exist in this universe and the relative timeframe that this world is set in. The biggest surprise is the change in Buffy, who has somehow wilted in her personality. There is still bravery and willingness to help defeat evil. But she lacks confidence, too, a huge surprise for fans that know her.

In Buffy’s absence as a slayer, the responsibility falls on Willow. She appears to have a crisis in confidence, too, questioning her new role. But she is almost channeling her friend’s power when she steps up to the plate to wade into battle. Xander is slightly on the sidelines after the opening, while Giles remains the comforting, supportive father figure. However, there is guilt hidden in his conversations with Willow. There is a subtlety to Gailey’s dialogue, which should be commended. The facts aren’t in your face and have to be discerned instead of them being directly revealed.

The art is really lovely. All of the characters look adorable. They represent themselves and their personas without necessarily looking identical to the actors that played them in the TV show. Perhaps the most similar is Willow, whose large, expressive eyes are akin to Alyson Hannigan’s. The facial expressions are brilliant, especially for Buffy. That timid sadness that appears in certain moments is heartbreaking. It is really touching when she thinks she has failed and doesn’t know how to help otherwise. But again, these pieces are subtle and gentle. The crab itself is detailed and impressive in its scale. The fight itself is entirely of dynamism and movement. Schelfer puts special dedication towards showing Willow and Buffy always trying to protect each other in the heat of battle. They are close, sometimes touching as a display of intimacy.

The colors are relatively muted for much of the issue, with the real vibrancy being saved for the characters. The locations and backgrounds are gray or brown, creating a glum atmosphere. But the shades are much brighter on the figures in the foreground. Willow’s red hair and the stark blonde hair of Buffy are crucial as it aids identification even from afar. The lettering is big and easy to read.

The Vampire Slayer #1 is a surprising start to a new universe. It’s a very brave move to start this new world where the character it is named after is weakened. In a way, however, it opens the door for a raft of new and different stories to tell without constraint. Thankfully, Gailey isn’t sidelining Buffy, as she is still prevalent and important to the story.  But the subtly of the writing and the art is excellent, and this is a comic brimming with emotion. If there is a criticism, it is that this issue feels like a prelude, more than a first issue. There is a lot not yet explained or even begun.

The Vampire Slayer #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.


The Vampire Slayer #1
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TL;DR

The Vampire Slayer #1 is a surprising start to a new universe. It’s a very brave move to start this new world where the character it is named after is weakened. In a way, however, it opens the door for a raft of new and different stories to tell without constraint.