Fighting demons and saving Sunnydale was the essence of the weekly episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer when Joss Whedon created it back in 1996. But even then, the writers of the show were embracing the series arc and building up a world full of characters that could return at any point.
In BOOM! Studios new Buffy series, Jordie Bellaire understands this all important aspect of the shows history and issue three is still part of the introduction to this Buffy-verse. There is a monster of the week and the laying of groundwork for future stories. Characters are dropped unceremoniously into the mix as if they are simply residents of Sunnydale and not major players in the story; exactly as Joss Whedon did back in the day.
In the Magic Shop, Spike and Dru are making their plans but unwittingly unleash a giant vampire hunting demon upon Sunnydale. Anyanka explains that the oversized red bat creature, known as Camazotz, is as much a danger to Spike and Dru as he is a danger to the residents of Sunnydale so armed with protective amulets, the two vampire’s go bat hunting.
Meanwhile Buffy is still searching for the information regarding the previous piece of jewellery she liberated from a vampire. It isn’t long before these two plot lines converge in spectacular fashion.
Bellaire uses the creature of the week feature to expand the characters of the central cast that she has already introduced. A number of character traits regarding the regulars are dropped in through conversation or from the setting itself. When Buffy’s favourite coffee shop is attacked, for example, an element of Giles’ character is revealed in a way that will be familiar to fans of the T.V. series. The relationships forging between Buffy and her Scooby Gang are also the focus of this issue.
One of Bellaire’s strengths as a writer is her ability to juggle so many complex characters at the same time, even during action sequences. The development of her cast is a constant, ongoing concern. She also leaves enough ambiguity in certain scenes and speeches to make you question where a particular plot thread is going. She did it with Xander beautifully in the last issue and again with Cordelia in this issue.
Plus, the cliff-hanger to this issue has ominous signs scrawled all over it. I suspect that Jordie Bellaire is going to break some hearts with this series.
Dan Mora’s art is as exceptional as in previous issues. He brings energy and dynamism to the script. The pages have a cinematic flair to them giving the narrative a large stage on which to play out. The reader is led from panel to panel, often by Ed Dukeshire’s lettering placement, in an easy flow allowing time to take in the beautiful art work.
Mora sets each scene with the required amount of background details; sometimes there is a fully realised set, other times just the impression of a place. The atmosphere is provided by the coloring especially as this entire issue is set during a single night. Raul Angulo changes the tones from the Magic Shop to Buffy’s lonely walk to the well-lit coffee shop, giving each place their own atmosphere. This also helps to break the narrative into different beats, allowing the reader to shift gear from one scene to the next.
Without a doubt the highlight of the art if Mora’s character work. He produces wonderfully accurate representations of the characters when he needs to however, he also manages to make them recognisable with the simplest of lines and shapes. There is never any question of who you are following at any given moment. Add to this Mora’s amazing talent for expressive faces and you get the most emotionally identifiable characters currently in print. Even the vampire hunting beast Camazotz exudes a wide range of emotions producing a full rounded character.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer continues to grow as an exciting and all-consuming narrative under the guidance of Jordie Bellaire and Dan Mora. It has been said before and will continue to be said that this comic from BOOM! Studios feels like a part of the original series but also is new and different in many ways. The characters are so familiar but not the same, it creates a feeling of déjà vu that you just can’t shake.
Everything about this comic is exciting and fresh. BOOM! Studios picked the perfect creators to work on this and we should thank them for it. Buffy The Vampire Slayer is going to be the next big thing. Again.