BOOM! Studios reboot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer follows up their enjoyable seventeenth issue, which focused on Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, with a reunion issue. In #18, writers Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert bring Willow back into the fold. Is it worth the read for longtime Buffy fans?
This time, Willow leaves her awesome solo series (which hasn't wrapped up yet) to join the fold in the main Buffy the Vampire Slayer title. This issue is light on vampire action and heavy on romance and drama, which is how I normally like my Buffy, but there's unfortunately very little depth and forward movement here. Willow has the "I'm back, and things are different" conversation three times, and it's nearly identical every time in both substance and mood. The characters and the scenes here don't arc; they just exist with little build-up and zero payoff. While the story does little to make the reader care, the artwork by Ramon Bachs is decent, while the colors from Raúl Angulo are excellent. Bachs' depiction of the characters ranges from pretty good to way off, while Angulo's colors add depth to the characters and environment on every page. The lettering from Ed Dukshire is, as always, solid.
Much of this issue underlines what this BOOM! Studios reboot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has lost. The original Buffy's years-long journey was one of found family, realizing that you could create a unit of love from friends and mentors. This new Buffy has a happy home with her mom and her doctor boyfriend, Eric. The original Buffy saw a young woman caught between fighting the darkness in the world and embracing her own darkness, as she found herself drawn to certain vampires (and, in some ways, Faith) because of how they were more relatable to her than regular, human boyfriends. Here, she is in a happy relationship with cute, seemingly very pure Robin Wood. So much is lost in reimagining Buffy, and it's not entirely clear what is gained, because while the series delivers occasional one-off, character-focused stories like last issue's Wesley one-shot and the excellent Willow spinoff, it's when the characters come together than the series feels further from the heart and soul of Buffy. The series has alluded to a multi-verse, where what seemed like Buffy's original world was quickly depicted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow #1, and that may be BOOM!'s saving grace here. The quicker this reboot can merge with the original series, the better. Instead of finding stories that will do for this generation what Joss Whedon's original series did for the 90s and 2000s, this feels sadly cookie cutter and lifeless.