The announcement that BOOM! Studios was rebooting the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel comic books excited and worried fans. After all, the previous Dark Horse comics were hit or miss at best. Fortunately, the first issue, released in January 2019, didn’t disappoint.
Not only does BOOM! take readers back to Sunnydale High, but they’re faithful to location and character appearances. They also make great creative improvements that enhance the Buffyverse like never before. However, not all of the changes are for the best. Here are 5 ways BOOM!’s Buffy and Angel comics improved the franchise and 5 ways they didn’t.
10 IMPROVEMENT: WILLOW IS GAY (AND DATING)
Joss Whedon intended from the series’ start for one of Buffy’s two BFFs to be gay. It was the late '90s, so it’s not surprising it took a few years, but when Willow did come out, she experienced one of the series’ greatest romances with Tara. Now, it’s difficult to imagine Willow any other way. Fast-forward to 2019, and BOOM! has introduced Willow from the start as she was intended: gay. What’s more, she’s happily in a relationship with fellow Sunnydale High student, Rose. Now Tara just needs to make her way into the series.
9 WORSE: CORDELIA IS NICE
Though fans might not have guessed it if they only watched Buffy and skipped Angel, Cordelia becomes one of the Buffyverse’s most complex and evolved characters. She even becomes nicer, though she never loses that Cordelia-esque charm. In the Buffy comic reboot, however, she is so far removed from the Queen C fans loved that she’s hardly recognizable.
Cordelia–especially high school Cordelia–is not desperate to be friends with Buffy. She doesn’t sprinkle the halls of Sunnydale High with niceties. She rules with an iron fist and a gaggle of Cordettes, and her fans will accept no substitutions.
8 IMPROVEMENT: JOYCE IS IN A RELATIONSHIP
Throughout the television series, Joyce Summers didn’t have many romantic encounters and, when she did, they weren’t perfect (remember Ted?). She finally met a great guy in season five, but didn’t live to see a second date. The rebooted Joyce is having a much better go at romance. For a year prior to the events of the first issue, she had been dating Eric, a doctor. He moved to Sunnydale with Buffy and Joyce, where he and Buffy are slowly growing closer. While there is still a chance he becomes evil, it’s good to see Joyce happy.
7 WORSE: XANDER BECOMES HALF VAMPIRE
In issue #4, a depressed Xander let Drusilla drink him and leave him to die. Spike began siring him, but didn’t finish, putting Xander somewhere between demon and dead. Under Giles and Buffy's care, he goes between silly Xander and nasty vampire Xander, while dying.
It’s natural that the rebooted series would experiment with the Buffy world, but making Xander (or anyone) half vampire–or even making that a thing–flies in the face of well-laid Buffy lore. Hopefully this will be temporary and doesn’t inspire other unfortunate ideas like Buffy Season Nine’s Zompires (aptly named by Xander).
6 IMPROVEMENT: BRINGING IN FRED EARLY ON
Fan-favorite Winifred “Fred” Burkle was the last core Team Angel character to debut in the live-action series (not counting Spike), appearing at the end of season two and dying in season five. In the rebooted comic, she is reintroduced in issues #2-3, hidden away in a Sunnydale mental institution where Angel saves her from a demon. She becomes Angel’s first onscreen teammate to join him on paper. There are many exciting questions about Fred’s new journey and past. Has she been to Pylea? Is she destined to become Illyria? Hopefully, she has more time in the Buffyverse this time around.
5 WORSE: DRUSILLA ISN’T CRAZY
Drusilla’s insanity is a fundamental part of her character. Her cunning, deceiving, childish ways not only made for an interesting villain, but made her a deadly big bad. Furthermore, the origins of her mental break tie in with the history of Angel’s original gang, including Darla and Spike.
BOOM!’s iteration of Drusilla is still deadly and evil, but she’s nothing like the original. Now called “The Mistress,” this Drusilla is lucid, concise, stylish, and stable. Where are the creepy dolls, tantrums, and poetic visions? When it comes to iconic characters, if they aren’t broken, don’t fix them.
4 IMPROVEMENT: INTRODUCING YOUNG ROBIN WOOD
After discovering Robin Wood’s backstory during season seven (his one and only season on the show), it was clear that he was an underutilized character. The concept was great, but he felt detached from the rest of Team Buffy and any hopes viewers had of Buffy and Robin getting together romantically were extinguished. Introducing a teenage Robin into Buffy’s Sunnydale High cohort in issue #2 makes up for this character’s underutilization. Not only is Robin on his way to being more integrated into the team, but he and Buffy are also on the path to romance.
3 WORSE: DISTANCING ANYA FROM THE SCOOBIES
Aside from running a magic shop and being immortal and blond, the rebooted Anya is nothing like her television counterpart. While the majority of the characters are teenagers, Anya doesn’t join them this time around. Instead, she's in the very adult role of running a business, working with clients as big as Wolfram & Hart.
Not only is she distanced from the Scoobies, but she lacks the OG Anya's personality. She appears adjusted to modern times and lacks the humorous, blunt honesty and inappropriateness expected of the character. It's difficult to see her breaking into the Buffy fold.
2 IMPROVEMENT: GIVING ANGEL A PRE-BUFFY JOURNEY
Angel had lived for over two hundred years before meeting Buffy in “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” but viewers never experienced him before he met her. They only knew Angel as long as Buffy did… everything else was flashbacks. While the Angel reboot also uses flashbacks, it focuses on Angel's present, Buffy-less journey. His search for redemption and helping people sans Buffy gives Angel’s individuality and character more weight, which he didn’t get on television until his own series. Experiencing Angel solo advances his narrative, and will also make his impending meeting with Buffy even more exciting and rewarding.
1 WORSE: CORDELIA CRUSHING ON SPIKE
As noted earlier, it’s understandable that BOOM! is making unique changes to the Buffy reboot, but Cordelia crushing on Spike? Hard pass. As much as BOOM! may want a clean slate, it's never going to happen; fans will not soon forget Cordy’s epic (if not unfulfilled) romance with Angel. The rebooted Spike feels pretty true to the original, so it's difficult imagining even the new, nice Cordelia falling for him after their creepy, brief encounter in issue #4. Whether readers are team Bangle or team Spuffy, most will agree that some things, like Spordelia, are just not meant to be.