In the tradition of Old Man Logan, the last couple of Halloween films, and Terminator: Dark Fate, Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer #1 is set in an alternate universe about thirty years or so since the conclusion of the Buffy TV show. Casey Gilly, Joe Jaro, and Joana Lafuente craft a world where dark magic and other forces have weakened the sun, and vampires are free to walk the Earth and turn and feed on humans with their consent in kind of a metaphor for legalized sex work. However, one human that isn’t welcome in this new regime where humans, vampires, and other supernatural beings co-exist is the Slayer, Buffy Summers. She’s the last of her kind and quite grumpy with many of her friends dying in an accident that is alluded to in flashbacks. This first issue shows her running from vampires instead of fighting them, aimless and purpose free, just ready to die even though it’s looking she might be immortal just like the monsters she used to hunt.
The strongest thing about Gilly’s script is how she understands that Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel were about their protagonists finding purpose and calling in life. Because she’s a Chosen One-type figure, Buffy used to have a life with regimented trainings and patrols before her Watcher, Giles, finally let her have more freedom and go off to college and basically raise her younger sister, Dawn, after the death of their mother. However, that’s all gone out of the window, and the early bits of Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer show her aimlessly drinking coffee at a pub, evading instead of fighting vampires, and reluctantly sparring with Anya, one of her few surviving friends. Jaro draws Buffy with a kind of listlessness even though Casey Gilly’s dialogue for her is just as quippy as the TV show, but it’s almost like she’s playing a part rather than being her full authentic self. The question of purpose comes up as Anya and Buffy eat burritos and guacamole at a Mexican restaurant that is classic vampire movie themed, and the juxtaposition of broad comedy and poignant moments show the potential of the series.
Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer‘s art is really hit or miss from me. Joe Jaro has a nice bag of tricks adding small panels between sequences to show that even though Buffy has lost a step or two over the years, she’s still nimble, badass, and could probably take that whole bar of vampires. He also adds lots of background details that fill in this post-apocalyptic world while Buffy is busy self-flagellating. However, Jaro and Lafuente have some missteps, including a pivotal sequence that is just covered in pure red, including reaction shots. It’s a scene of total violence, but it doesn’t land like it should because it’s hard to make out what’s going on. There are also several instances of the character’s expressions not matching Gilly’s writing that are awkward, but Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer isn’t an unreadable book by any means.
Along with continuing Buffy and Angel‘s themes of making one’s own way in a world instead of being governed by prophecies and fate (“Seize the moment” pops up as dialogue in the first episode of the show.), Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer #1 features a multi-faceted, middle-aged female hero, who is a total badass and has great one-liners, but is also allowed to sit with her trauma, guilt, and grief and be messy sometimes. Like in the show, Buffy and Anya aren’t total besties, and they really only hang out together because of the human/vampire treaty, Buffy isn’t allowed to attack many supernatural creatures other than her and needs to blow off steam. She grapples with loneliness and uncertainty throughout the issue with only the last few pages offering a chance at a fresh start and an amazing hook for fans of the original series.
Although it’s set in an alternate universe and features middling art, Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer is a story that has some of themes and stylistic dialogue of the original TV show while featuring a complex lead character that is perfect for the literal Hellmouth we currently live in.
Story: Casey Gilly Art: Joe Jaro
Colors: Joana Lafuente Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW