Writer: Jeremy Lambert
Artist: Marianna Ignazzi
Colorist: Mattia Iacono
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Publication Date: November 2022

What does nostalgia feel like? Recently both Buffy ‘97 and Batman ‘89 were on comic store shelves, and despite one being a very big property and one being a decently big property, they both deal with nostalgia in an interesting way. I was born in 1989, so it was about a decade before I saw Tim Burton’s reimagining of the Batman world on film. Really, Batman Forever was where most of my nostalgia lived (and admittedly, that’s the image I had in my mind when I first heard that Batman 89 was announced: neon, colorful, slick Batman with the Jim Carrey Riddler and the Val Kilmer suit). But this review is about Buffy, not Batman.

I first saw Buffy the Vampire Slayer many years after it was canceled in TV form. We had a rotating potluck, once a week, and for whatever reason it became a Buffy watchathon. I was in my early twenties and had seen a few episodes here and there as reruns before other shows. But not like this. Not a dedicated, sit-down-and-discuss, book club style viewing. All of this background to say: Buffy ‘97, the new one-shot out from Boom! Studios, feels like how I remember Buffy and how I remember the end of the 90s. Like I said before, born in 1989, so I lived through the 90s, but I wasn’t old enough to really take it in. But the TV shows I love were: Friends, Dawson’s Creek, and X-Files, feel like what I think about when I think about the 90s. And so does Buffy ‘97.

While at the Sunnydale Mall, Buffy and Willow discover that a mysterious designer is having a fashion show that evening in a big pop-up tent outside the mall. There’s only one problem: they had plans to meet up with Giles and Spike at the Strike Zone bowling alley. After promising to help Giles all next week, Buffy and Willow head out to the fashion show only to discover – the clothes weren’t that good? But as they leave, they notice that all the other fashionistas in attendance are obsessed with the catalog and, right as they start to investigate, they’re surrounded by vamps! 

Buffy ‘97 reminds me of that Doom Patrol run where Paris is trapped in a painting and the Doom Patrol have to go in and fight the Brotherhood of Dada. Madam Want, a demon, has found a way to trap people in teen magazines by either hypnotizing them into buying clothes from her fashion line, or literally pulling them into the world of the teen magazine. This leads to some pretty fun ‘90s rollerblading-at-the-beach action, and ultimately a confrontation with Madam Want herself. So it’s kind of like that run of Doom Patrol issues, but also very Buffy, which worked for me!

Buffy '97

It’s not always easy for an IP to feel like the original show, or movie, or video game. Voices are difficult, the medium is different, and, frankly, the stories have moved on from the original idea. The Vampire Slayer, another currently releasing Boom! Studios title, for example, does not feel like the Buffy I remember from the TV show. But I also don’t think that it should. When it ended in 2003, the show (not including Angel) had aired 147 episodes over seven seasons. But the comics continued – season 8-12, not to mention a number of spin-offs. Then in 2019, the Buffy comics moved from Dark Horse over to Boom! Studios, where a new era began – including Buffy ‘97. So the vampire hunting team have been through a lot. But, due to a lot of great work by both the writer Jeremy Lambert, and the art team: Marianna Ignazzi (art) and Mattia Iacono (color), Buffy ‘97 captures the voice and feel of what I remember about the show perfectly. For comparison Batman ‘89 continues the story of Tim Burton and Sam Hamm’s Batman, but doesn’t quite feel the same when I read it. The colors aren’t what I remember. The story’s in universe, the writer’s the same. But the feel is different. 

Nostalgia isn’t accurate. It’s personal. But the washed colors (not quite neon, not quite pastel), rollerblading on the boardwalk, and the locations (mall, bowling alley, fashion show), push this one-shot comic towards Nostalgia to great effect. In the end, everybody’s bowling. It’s nacho night. It’s not-quite the millennium. It’s Buffy.

Buffy ‘97 is a one-shot comic that was recently collected into a special 25th anniversary edition and includes several short Buffy comics previously released as annuals, not to mention a pretty snazzy yearbook.

Verdict: BUY

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