Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a long history of comic book stories. While the first comics based on the popular TV show debuted all the way back in 1998, it wasn’t until 2007 that they were considered part of official “canon”. Today, there are tons of Buffy comics, with some continuing the official timeline and others reimagining the story in new and different ways. One of these alternate universe series, Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer, tells the story of a much-older Buffy dealing with an apocalyptic event that blocked out the sun and forced an uneasy truce between humans and vampires– but the jaded Slayer isn’t buying that. After the limited series wrapped up in March, Boom! Studios collected the issues into a graphic novel that’s hitting shelves today. So what’s this book about, and how does it compare to the rest of the stories about our favorite vampire slayer?
Comics and Canon: What’s the Official Story?
To talk about Buffy comics in 2022, it’s important to know your history. Buffy the Vampire Slayer the movie came out in 1992, and the award-winning TV show that followed first aired in 1997. The show is officially canon, but not the movie (which is probably for the best). During the seven seasons of the TV show, Dark Horse Comics published a comic series under the same name as an extension of the show, not considered canon and with not much input from the TV writers. When the show ended, so did that series.
But in 2007, comic books became the official, canonical home of Buffy’s story, with the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight picking up where the show left off. Many of the show’s writers, including Joss Whedon, moved over to the comic series, and from 2007 to 2018, Season Eight through Season Twelve kept the story going. In 2019, however, Dark Horse sold the rights to the comics to Boom! Studios, and this is where canon gets fuzzy. Since then, several miniseries have come out, including graphic novels, spin-offs, and alternate universe stories. And that’s where Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer comes in.
Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer is a four-part series published from December 2021 to March 2022, written by Casey Gilly and illustrated by Joe Jaro. It’s officially considered outside of canon, and a spin-off series, so while it doesn’t affect the officially Buffy story it definitely has a story that’s worth a read. Set 30 years after the end of the TV show, Buffy is in her 50s, trying to survive in a world where an apocalyptic event blocked the sun enough that vampires can roam free all day and night. In response, vampires and humans signed a treaty, outlawing violence on both sides- making Slayers essentially illegal. Buffy is lonely, losing her powers, and hunted, until a potential Slayer finds her and asks for her help. (Spoilers ahead!)
Differences From Canon
Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer is a very different world from what fans of the TV show are expecting, even without considering the characters that are supposed to be dead. Thessaly, the potential Slayer Buffy agrees to help in the series, is revealed to be Willow and Tara’s daughter, though in canon Tara died in the Season 6 episode Seeing Red. Also, Buffy regularly trains with Anya, who died in the series finale. The Boom! Studios comics are “reimaginings” of the Buffy story, so this happens often, and sometimes characters that have died in canon will be alive in other versions of the universe. Fans of the show might think this also includes Spike, the semi-redeemed vampire working with the aging Slayer, but Spike was actually resurrected in the final season of the spin-off show Angel, so he’s alive in canon anyway. Confused? Us, too, don’t worry about it.
How Does This Story Measure Up?
This story is dark, even for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it has light moments, mostly through Buffy’s uneasy alliance with Thessaly. The series plays on the Old Man Logan trope of a hardened warrior taking in a child that gives them hope, and it does it well, though it has to bend the usual rules of the Buffyverse a little to do it. Characters seem a little out of character at times, but it’s an alternate universe, so that’s not too surprising. The final part, with a battle scene shown in striking full-page illustrations by Jaro, will be an emotional roller coaster for long-time fans. And fans of the Spike and Buffy pairing will definitely be happy with the way this story ends.
Personally, in this writer’s opinion, the story seems to work better as a novel than as four parts released once a month, since the fast pace means you won’t want to put this one down. Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer is definitely a completely different world from the usual Buffy story, but it’s fun to see an older version of the character we love, and the setting is a new and interesting look at the world. This book has angst, drama, magic and monsters- everything a Buffy fan will love. Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer is out now and can be found online and wherever graphic novels are sold.
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