A Whole Lot Of Slayage: Reviewing ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer 25th Anniversary Special’ #1
by Scott Redmond
BOOM! Studios celebrates a quarter-century of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ by giving the slayer and her supporting cast of characters their due in a number of well-crafted, fun, emotional, and fulfilling stories. All the love these creators have for the world and characters is clear on the pages and bodes well for the continued future of this franchise in Boom’s capable hands.
The ever-creeping passage of time at times is a hard thing to fully grasp as we’re living within it. Then come the moments where a moment in time reaches a big anniversary, and how much time has passed is right there etched in stone and can be felt. One of those moments is here now as Buffy the Vampire Slayer is celebrating a twenty-fifth anniversary this year, and BOOM! Studios is kicking off some pretty big events to mark this anniversary.
Ahead of a new ongoing slayer series launch in April (as well as some other interesting series on the horizon), the publisher has dropped an extra-sized Buffy The Vampire Slayer 25th Anniversary Special #1 to prepare for this moment.
It’s only natural that the special is kicked off with a story that serves as an epilogue to the recently ended reboot Buffy the Vampire Slayer series that kicked off back in 2019.
Series writer Jeremy Lambert returns for this story and is joined by Claudia Balboni and Raul Angulo on the art. While there are some bits that might be hard to grasp for those that didn’t read the proceeding series, overall, it’s a pretty new reader-friendly romp. All the character personalities feel spot-on as they sort of deal with a Groundhog Day situation surrounding the multiversal issues seen at the end of that last series. Balboni and Angulo are a fun duo together, as there is a lot of fun energy permeating the artwork with the slickness and bright colors but also inherent darkness befitting of the story subject matter and the overall world it belongs to.
This story takes up most of the pages, but there are a handful of other stories celebrating various characters from different iterations of the Buffy universe.
Willow and Tara get their moment, in a really touching story from Lilah Sturges, Claire Roe, and Roman Titov. We get a really emotional and relatable moment from Tara’s point of view, about what being with Willow means to her. There is also some great last-minute secret saving and banter from Buffy and Xander, but the two magical women steal the show as they should. Roe’s artwork really brings the emotional and adorable moments to perfect life, while Titov’s muted but still bright at times colors set the mood, especially with the really realistic looking night we get to see.
While this previous story is more ambiguous in where its set, the Xander-centric story is more firmly placed. With this story, we take a trip back to the moments between the third and fourth seasons of the television series when Xander attempted to go on a cross-country road trip which ended when his car broke down.
Thanks to Danny Lore, Marianna Ignazzi, and Mattia Iacono we now get to see a deeper look at what happened at that moment outside of the bits that Xander told his friends in the show. As the character generally without powers or special skills, Xander was often the audience surrogate and here Lore does some really nice diving into his fears and desires that help boost the overall idea of how he was the true heart of the group.
Ignazzi’s art is quite detailed and nails the facial expressions and meets that perfect space of making the character similar looking to the actor but not a dead ringer. Also, the way the crystal visions were handled with the cloudy-looking panel shapes at times was pretty cool. All the green hues of the visions as well as the very authentic feeling of nighttime colors from Iacono completes the great package.
There are a lot of great stories here and visuals but getting to see Spike putting on his disco best as he attempts to go after what he thinks is just a normal disco queen is pretty great. It’s befitting of very over-the-top personality that the character showcased more often than not.
Spike’s fortuitous adventure comes from Casey Gilly, Bayleigh Underwood, and Heather Breckel. The aforementioned visuals of this story work because Underwood has such a magical and fun style, detailed but exaggerated somewhat for effect. Breckel brings the splashes of color with bold purples and yellows that really make the characters and story stand out great. The panels in the shape of a star on one of the first pages is a solid visual element.
Gilly makes the story fun as the back and forth between Spike and Allegra Valentine is somewhat playful even with the threat the vampire is making, and takes a great turn in the end. Prophecies and destiny are a huge thing in the Buffy world, so placing one around Spike that he dismisses, but will lead him eventually to where we know he ends up, is a nice move.
Last, but certainly not least of all, comes the final story from Sarah Gailey, Carlos Olivares, and Valentina Pinto. While the other stories celebrated moments of the past or previous runs, this one has the important space of setting up what is coming next with the aforementioned new series in April. That new series, The Vampire Slayer, will be brought to life by Gailey and Pinto who will be joined by Irene Flores on the art side.
Buffy in a therapy session talking about how her friends are changing and the stresses upon a friend, where the friend turns out not to be her and the therapist is a vampire is great all on its own. Throw in the twist about the slayer that comes from this story, and Gailey has perfectly hooked me and likely others on seeing what comes next. Having loved Gailey’s recent Eat the Rich series, I was already on board for this new series but this story just made me even more excited.
Olivares hits the notes of cute, realistic, and dark all at the same time with the artwork in this story. Comparing the two mediums is not usually something to do, but there is almost an animation type of energy coming from this work. Pinto’s colors add extra depth and weight to the world, going for a middle ground where they can be bright and deep but also dark and heavy/shadowy at the same time.
Ed Dukenshire pulls big duty in this issue, by lettering every single one of the stories. Within all of them, he shows his usual deft hand at making dialogue flow in a very natural and easy to follow way, yet gives the words in each story different energy to match the art or tone of the story. Adding all the right emphasizers and making sure there are differences to different types of speaking are things that he also does so well.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer 25th Anniversary Special #1 is available in print or digitally from BOOM! Studios.