There’s always one person who hasn’t seen, read, or consumed any Star Wars media. The same goes for Lord of the Rings, Terminator, Harry Potter, and more sagas that have shaped the lives of so many people. And it isn’t always about whether you like it or not, but there are so many characters and memorable stories out there that it isn’t possible to be caught up with everything. And this is beautiful because, with variety, there is a higher chance for everyone to have products they enjoy. I’m the person that hasn’t seen, read, or consumed Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I didn’t start Buffy when it first came out, and when I found out about it, there were many seasons and comics to read, and I wasn’t ready to commit. But it is a name that has always been around the community. The fandom is passionate, and it has influenced many of the comic creators I admire nowadays. So when I found out there was a #1 comic starring Buffy coming out, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to visit this world and decide if I wanted to stay.
I’m pleased to welcome you to the review of The Vampire Slayer #1 by Sarah Gailey, Michael Shelfer, Valentina Pinto, Riccardo Giardina, and Ed Dukeshire, from someone whose only knowledge about Buffy, is that she is a Vampire Slayer.
And apparently, my only piece of knowledge was incorrect. Because now, Buffy’s a regular gal, and her friend Willow works as the Slayer. Throughout the issue, a group of four friends: Buffy (apparently not a Slayer), Willow (The Slayer), Giles (The Watcher, whatever that means), and Xander (the comic relief), fight Scylla, a giant crab-God, using magic and weapons. How did this monster appear? It remains a mystery. There are other mysteries briefly discussed during the book, but they will be explored later in the series.
Before discussing the Buffy aspect, I must say I enjoyed every element of the book: the characters, the mythology, the interactions, the creatures, and the fighting. The character design is gorgeous; everyone is easily identifiable. And each character has a different personality which allows a contrast of opinions and decision-making. Also, the creators included immersive details of the magic world on every page; and a focus on the action, which helps the reader follow the flow of the events happening. In that sense, the art sets the tone for the start of an engaging story.
Getting to the Buffy aspect of it, I think some of the tropes used in the book may have been relatively new when the TV series first came out, so the new stories stuck with them because the characters are the same, but after 15+ years, they feel repetitive. A few examples: the group of teenagers who fight monsters, the story of a chosen one, the use of magic and the existence of supernatural elements hidden from modern society, the friend who can’t do magic but is there to support the others, or the friend who keeps secrets from the group to protect them. I don’t mind repetition if the story is compelling, which is 100% the case. But if you are looking for something without these influences, you may not like Issue #1.
Overall, is this book new reader-friendly? It depends: If you are looking for a new hero book with supernatural creatures, magic, fun adventures, and great characters, this one’s for you; as long as you don’t mind not understanding all the references because this book feels like an elseworld on the main Buffyverse continuity. But if you are a completionist, who wants to understand every character and easter egg, you may want to visit previous content before. In general, this book awakens your curiosity for other Buffy-related content.
I wrote this review without seeing any show or reading any comic, including the ones from Boom! Studios. With that in mind, the book itself didn’t have any reference to previous material, and it stated it was a new universe, so I thought it was a fresh start. Nevertheless, while reading more about the book online, I found out this book is the next chapter of the Boom! Studios Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot (2019) that lasted 34 issues. You can read more about it in the series announcement.
In that sense, for new readers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although I still believe this is a good entry point, the book is not set in an entirely new universe. So, if the publisher were to return to the “main” universe at some moment, you may need to read the previous issues to understand what is happening.