Finding Hope Like Sunshine: Reviewing ‘Buffy The Last Vampire Slayer’

by Scott Redmond


Buffy enters the tired and true realm of dystopian future-type stories, as the former slayer finds her way within a still-dangerous world that seemingly no longer has any need or want for her. This is a book that surely will speak to long-time Buffy fans as it treads the line very close to the television series world while also doing its own things to expand the familiar but different world.


One of the beauties of stories that ask the simple question ‘what if?’ within ongoing stories/franchises, is that it often gives us a glimpse of what could happen to characters if they are allowed to age and grow, or if their worlds are allowed to be really shaken up. Buffy The Last Vampire Slayer provides just this opportunity for the beloved character, who is celebrating a 25th anniversary this year, by showing us an elderly Buffy caught trying to find hope in a dangerous dystopian future.

Casey Gilly does a very adept job at hitting the characterization of Buffy and the few familiar faces we see here (most of them in flashback only), putting this story in a place that pulls more from the ’90s TV series realm than it does from the modern rebooted comic books.

Stories like this rely heavily on character moments, especially when the story is about very popular iconic characters, and Gilly makes that very much the case here. Building lore can be very fun, but it needs to be balanced with other aspects to truly hit otherwise it becomes an info dump. There isn’t a single moment of this series that feels like an info dump because there is emotion and humor and power behind what is being presented.

Despite pulling heavily from the franchise’s past there isn’t that overwhelming sense of nostalgia that can often be found in projects like this. There is respect and love for the characters and what happened before, but that has been taken and reinvented to build something beyond what came before. Buffy The Last Vampire Slayer is an enjoyable and character-rich book that plays off the things that are known and loved about the franchise while doing a ton of stuff that takes it far beyond its status quo.

This is a world that I would love to see developed more and given even more space to grow beyond this story, as it feels like Gilly hasn’t even scratched the surface with what happened over all these years in these four issues. With all the new life that is being brought to the franchise at BOOM! Studios lately, there surely could be room for this creative team to do even more with this future-set world.

Art-wise the work of Joe Jaro and Joana Lafuente follows the same energy mentioned above, as the characters we know appear just like they always have without going for that photo-realistic exact copy of the actor’s image that we can sometimes see in adaptations. We see the similarities, aged up as they are, and the energy of those characters just radiates off them and does the rest of the work for us mentally. Again, showing love and respect for the franchise while in a way making it partly their own thing which is really nice.

There is a weight to this world and the inherent sadness mixed with hope and aging characters are not just seen but felt through the pages. The same dynamic energy can be felt whether the pages are more character-talking pages or the really smooth fight scenes that we get through the issue. All the fight scenes are brutal and detailed but have great chaotic energy, boosted by the dynamic panel choices that Jaro makes along the way.

Pages feel warm or cold depending on the location and the coloring that Lafuente employs combines the lights and darks seamlessly in a somewhat muted but still bright style. Even though it’s the same style and palettes, there is a notable difference between say the sewer portions and when Buffy goes back to see Anya, the lighting and feel of the world’s visible changes.

While the inherent sadness and darkness are present throughout the series, there is also a steady growth of a lighter and more hope-filled feeling permeating through the art and colors as the story moves forward. We’re not just told that there is hope for a heroic win, but we can feel it as the pages grow brighter and the colors take on a whole new dynamic. Showing not just telling is always a fantastic sentiment, and it’s given great use in this series in many respects.

Ed Dukeshire makes the dialogue flow through the pages, both in an easy-to-follow way and also in a way that doesn’t overwhelm. One thing that I really love from many letterers, Dukeshire being one of them, is the care taken to really make dialogue stand out. In the sense of adding the right emphasizers or changing the size or style of fonts to really sell the volume or tone rather than leaving it to the imagination. Yelling actually feels like yelling or a semi-raised voice is very evident.

We can see personality flares within the way specific words are emphasized or the way bubbles change for characters once their demonic sides take over. Anya and the vampires get a lot of those changes, and it makes things stand out more and reiterates that a change is happening when they let that other side come into play.

Buffy The Last Vampire Slayer soft cover collection is now available.

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