The re-imaging of a classic from BOOM! Studios continues this week as the highly successful Buffy The Vampire Slayer drops it’s second glorious issue.
Riding high on the positive reception of the first issue, the creative team continue to re-introduce old characters in a new and exciting way. Familiar faces litter the pages of issue 2 and it’s difficult to tell who is having the most fun; is it writer Jordie Bellaire, artist Dan Mora, or us, the awestruck readers?
New to Sunnydale and with only a few friends, Buffy Summers has a lot to contend with. Add to her woes; horrific, potentially prophetic, nightmares; a watcher who wants her to train and study not just stab things with a pointy stick; and a Cordelia Chase who is warm, welcoming and excessively friendly.
The second issue of Buffy The Vampire Slayer opens with a horrific sequence setting a tone which over shadows the rest of the comic. Bellaire includes this sequence at the beginning to unnerve the reader and remind them exactly what kind of story this is. There is wit and wisdom, high school high jinx, and friendly banter but at the heart of Buffy is a fear of evil. Bellaire forces the reader to think about this as they read through the issue. The later sequences take on a different air because of the fear instilled at the beginning.
The first three pages set the scene and superbly establish an underlying tone.
On top of this Bellaire has captured the voices of her cast perfectly. Each of the characters comes into this comic fully realised. Some of the characters are familiar and comforting while others appear to be new, even though we recognise their faces.
The beauty of the script is that the reader is swept up in the excellently paced narrative. You may recognise a character, even question their new attitude but the story forces you to accept and move on, storing the information away for later. After you have finished the issue you will want to go back and pick the character apart but for that initial run through you are totally in the hands of the creators.
The story is still in introduction mode but it’s amazing how much world building Bellaire achieves in a single issue. She does have a head start because of the 7 years of T.V. history but at the same time, Bellaire has to make sure the reader can see this is a new Sunnydale. Changes to certain characters and their placement in this world helps to cement the differences.
Dan Mora’s artwork is simply outstanding. He can craft a page to tell any type of story he wishes. The opening horror sequence is disturbing visually and mentally but then he flips to a teen drama in a heartbeat. The transition is seamless and he has complete control over the reader.
Mora has a cinematic scope to his storytelling. Each page and panel carries with it an energy and an emotional kick. He draws subtle gestures that add depth of character just as easily as he draws twisted demonic images to haunt the reader. There isn’t a single page in this issue of Buffy The Vampire Slayer that isn’t impressive from the first to the last panel.
Raul Angulo uses color to accentuate the character’s appearances and to give them individuality. Although there is one moment, between Buffy and Robin, where the color and the image composition links the two characters together. The imagery is symbolic of a greater link between them and Angulo uses color signifiers in these panels to highlight the symmetry.
Never infringing on the foreground action, the background sets the tone for each page thanks largely to Angulo’s colors. Lighting and color choices set the mood instantly, hinting to the reader what to expect from the confrontations between the characters.
In a similar way, Ed Dukeshire’s lettering sets up the speech patterns for the characters. This allows the reader some insight into the emotional state of the characters at any given point.
One aspect of Buffy that made it so popular in the late 1990’s was the speech tempo; the constant back and forth between characters. The dialogue was part of that, but the actual rhythm of the conversation is what made it stand out. Dukeshire has managed to recreate that rhythm with the placement of his speech balloons and the occasional bolding of certain words. He brings the dialogue to life.
Everything about this comic is pure Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It is a captivating combination of horror and comedy. The characters are familiar yet new. The story full of action and mystery.
This comic is a perfect way of bringing a new audience to Buffy but at the same time it is an ideal accompaniment to the history of the Buffy-verse. Exploring the new differences and subtle changes is as much fun as the story itself. Bellaire has taken a beloved franchise and made it her own and Mora is knocking it out of the park with his artwork.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer issue 2 is a dynamic success on every single level.