Writer: Sarah Gailey
Art: Sonia Liao, Valentina Pinto and Riccardo Giardina
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Release Date: May 25th, 2022
The Vampire Slayer #2 continues the alternate universe story where Willow is the Vampire Slayer and Buffy and Xander are her “Scooby Gang”. This issue, we get to see this universe’s version of Faith, who’s as sassy and tough-as-nails as the “Prime” universe Faith. She doesn’t like Willow and she’s going to do something about it!
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The Vampire Slayer #2 is all Willow’s story, as we learn she’s not the infallible Vampire Slayer we thought she was. Willow is all about wielding magic, but the dark side of her magic seems to have insinuated itself into her sleep, where she has nightmares of demonic visions of herself. Amidst Willow’s self-doubt and exhaustion at being a Slayer, Giles brings in Faith, and Faith is bewildered at Willow’s complaining and lack of fighting skills.
This version of Faith is pretty much the same as the established “Prime” version of Faith. She’s the antithesis of Willow, preferring to get her hands dirty with slaying via punching, kicking and staking, where Willow is totally out of her element with physical combat. Though Willow isn’t a total pushover. In one scene, Faith launches a physical attack on Willow, and Willow, panicking, lashes out with a magic blast that sends Faith slamming into a wall across the room.
It doesn’t impress Faith though, who finds Willow gutless and a whiner.
The bulk of the issue involves Faith and Willow discussing how Willow became a Slayer, and what Faith can do to help Willow become a better fighter. Faith has never been about comforting and pep talks, she forces Willow to do some down and dirty Vampire Slaying with her. It’s fun watching the two of them bond over the course of the issue, at first at each other’s throats, but by the end of the issue, becoming closer.
My only complaint is that Giles seems pretty useless in this universe. In the “Prime” universe, he was a scholar and knowledgeable in every facet of magic, but in this universe, Willow has most of that knowledge, so it relegates Giles to being simply the father-type figure who frets over everyone and sits at their “home base” twiddling his thumbs.
As much as I love Willow’s mastery of the magic arts, it would be nice to have Giles serve some greater purpose in these stories. It was always fun watching him on the show, navigating relationships and encounters with other Watchers with aplomb. Buffy is a very minor character here, but given the cliffhanger ending we get here, she’ll be having a bigger role in the future. I hope they keep Buffy as a secondary character here, though, and let Willow shine for a while.
Sonia Liao’s art on The Vampire Slayer #2 is reminiscent of such artists as Alex Toth. Her work looks almost like an animated show transposed to comic book form. If there’s ever a Buffy cartoon, maybe should be the main artist on it?
Willow’s demonic scenes are nightmarish in a H.P. Lovecraft-type way, and all the characters look very much like the actors and actresses that portrayed them on the show.
The fight scenes with the vampires are dynamic and explosive, and the scenes where Willow casts magic lights up the panels with beautiful lighting effects.
The Vampire Slayer #2 is a great continuation of the series and this alternate Buffy universe. It’s fascinating to see Willow and Buffy’s roles reversed here and we get to see Willow agonizing over the self-doubt and sacrifice required for being a Slayer, something that was occasionally touched on on the show but is expanded more here.
A great issue with a great cliffhanger ending.