Alex: So, over the past month, I’ve started playing with something new on Twitter. Each week, I pick a comics issue that caught my eye and do an illustrated thread of little observations and stuff I enjoyed about it. There are a lot of problems with Twitter as a platform, though, so I thought I’d try collating those thoughts into blog posts. This is all very much in the experimental stages, so let us know what you think.
This time out, it’s Jordie Bellaire/Dan Mora/Raúl Angulo/Ed Dukeshire’s BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #1. Spoilers follow after the cut.
This is the first instalment of BOOM! Studios’ big Buffy revamp (pun intended) and it’s fascinating to see how even its design plays around with the familiar. Gone is the TV’s dusty-old-book title sequence. Instead it plays up the teenage aspect, and emphasises this is modern day.
In comics terms, think of this as ‘Ultimate Buffy’ – grabbing all the best bits of the original series and remixing them to create something fresh. Like a high-school-age Willow who already knows that she’s into girls.
It takes stuff that worked in later seasons, like Anya as magic shop owner, or Buffy as fast-food employee with superpowers, or even the underlying presence of Wolfram Hart, and puts it right at the beginning.
But the big question for any Buffy adaptation, even a remix, has got to be… well, does it feel like Buffy? And, friends, I can answer that with a single image:
It certainly helps that Mora’s likenesses are spot on. The big close up panels have photoreference feel to them, but he goes much looser for zoomed-out shots, without losing any of the essence of those characters/actors.
(This Willow is notably less dorky, both in what she wears and how she’s characterised, and while I’ll miss seeing her gradual glow-up, I suspect it’s linked with that self-identification stuff, and that’s cool.)
Similarly, Bellaire has the voices locked down tight. Her dialogue has plenty of that off-kilter phrasing, but more importantly she knows who to give it to. They both use big ol’ Whedonisms, but Xander doesn’t sound like Buffy, and vice versa.
Perhaps even more importantly, she’s also got that telltale rhythm, of setting up a stock horror/action/fantasy moment and then undermining it with a joke.
Everyone talks about Buffy’s ‘blonde girl walks into a scary alley, kicks ass’ and ‘high school is hell’ stuff, but this panel is a perfect encapsulation of the other running theme of the show: what living with Great Responsibility actually means and feels like.
It’s also a misdirect. The narration was the one bit I was unsure about – it felt a bit unBuffy – but I think that’s actually intentional, because it’s setting you up to have the rug pulled.
It’s a fantastic twist, the kind that plays totally fair with you. It could go a few different ways, but right now it looks like it’s setting up a fresh (and arguably much-needed) deconstruction of a familiar character.
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