REVIEW: In Buffy the Vampire Slayer #2, Everything Old Is New Again

Just as last month's inaugural issue of BOOM! Studios' comic book relaunch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer lovingly rebooted the longrunning franchise while modernizing and streamlining its mythos, the second issue continues the new series' reinvention of Sunnydale and its characters without compromising what made the franchise so popular in the first place. A lot of that is, of course, informed by the clear respect and reverence the creative team of Jordie Bellaire and Dan Mora have for the original source material.

While certainly a reboot, with its slight but noticeable revisions to beloved characters and updating the setting to present day as opposed to the '90s, the series is still immediately recognizable as both a reinvention of the franchise and a love letter to the television series on which it is based. This sentiment carries into the second issue, with Bellaire and Mora expanding their new vision of Sunnydale and its residents, reintroducing familiar characters while making enough tweaks and changes to make them come off as fresh and accessible to both longtime fans and new readers.

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A lot of that comes from Bellaire's scripting, which remains strong in this sophomore issue. The sardonic, sarcastic wit that helped define and endear the television series (and, really, Buffy creator Joss Whedon's entire career) is present throughout the issue, as are the franchise's signature hyper-verbal characters. Bellaire introduces a lot of moving parts in this issue, including a certain fan-favorite vampire making their relaunch debut here. Fortunately, Bellaire's script balances them all marvelously, with the story never feeling particularly over-cluttered. And while the issue comes with the expected amount of snappy dialogue, it never overshadows the pacing. Important narrative beats and character moments still land without taking a back seat to Sunnydale's verbose residents.

The other no-less crucial component in making this new Buffy the Vampire Slayer series familiar-yet-new is Mora's art. Matched with colorist Raúl Angulo, all the relaunch's familiar characters are immediately recognizable without being a distraction. The setting has been updated and modernized, but it all still feels and breathes like the television series. Buffy resembles Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Willow looks like Alyson Hannigan, but there is a visual reinvigoration to them not unlike Archie Comics' acclaimed relaunch of its own main cast four years ago. Mora and Angulo have rendered their own version of Sunnydale, from its bright high school hallways to its musty libraries. And when the inevitable horrors do appear, the art similarly brings the menace and sinister tension to the forefront while remaining within the visual sensibilities of the world they have crafted.

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What this second issue really comes down to, both in terms of writing and artwork, is that is an issue almost entirely dedicated to world-building from the promise of its debut. Sunnydale is expanded and the revisions to its growing cast from the classic source material are more evident. Willow is a more confident character, both in terms of personality and sexuality, than her initial appearance on the television series, and Xander isn't as lovesick over Buffy Summers, focused more on dealing with his own emotional hangups. The changes are there, and yet nothing in this reboot appears glaringly out-of-character. It restages and streamlines continuity without altering things simply for the sake of change.

By the fans, for the fans, without feeling like pandering fan-service, the Buffy comic book reboot continues to progress strongly. Bellaire and Mora are delivering a fresh, new take on Buffy with a strong, clear love of the television series but in a modern, accessible take to appeal to new readers that haven't seen an episode of Whedon's show in their life. It also manages to serve as a welcome jumping on point for diehard fans looking for something to remind them why they fell in love with the franchise in the first place.

The planned television reboot of the property would do well to look the comic relaunch for inspiration because a mere two issues in, this creative team has shown how to properly go about rebooting a beloved franchise without alienating its dedicated fanbase.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer #2 is written by Jordie Bellaire and illustrated by Dan Mora. The issue goes on sale on February 27 from BOOM! Studios.

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