This is definitely not the Sunnydale we’re used to… at least not yet.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 24
Written by Jeremy Lambert
Pencils and Inks by Ramon Bachs
Colors by Raúl Angulo

Right from the FIRST ISSUE of BOOM! Studios’ 21st Century reimagining of the cult classic series, it was clear the comic book wasn’t going to follow the letter of Buffy’s TV adventures. That has never been clearer than in the latest issue of the series. With Xander now a vampire and Willow being overcome by her darker tendencies, Buffy and her fellow Slayers – Kendra and Faith – had their hands full as the issue opened.

And in classic Buffy fashion, things went south pretty quick.

Sure, Willow is able to overcome her darker tendencies, but Xander can’t avoid the pointy end of a stake. And just like that, one of the stalwarts of the Buffyverse goes up in smoke. And when Willow senses that her best friend and literal soul mate is gone, she can’t handle it. That’s when the fun begins.

Willow can’t handle the loss of Xander and immediately begins searching for him again. Vampire Xander has been dusted, yes, but Willow reasons that his soul – the one he had before he became a vampire – is still out there somewhere. She goes searching for it, which ends up being something entirely different than any of the Scooby gang likely expected. As the issue went on, I really wasn’t ready for how it ended. We got a confrontation between Dark Willow and Buffy and the final fate of this version of Xander, but the issue ended opening up worlds of possibilities that have been teased for months.

Opening up a portal, Willow jumps through. Buffy follows and so do the others. When we find Wesley Wyndham-Pryce on the other side of the portal, he sees Rupert Giles and Buffy’s mom, Joyce, as they were depicted in the classic SEASON 3 episode “Band Candy.”

The possibilities really are endless now. Are all the Scoobies who went through the portal stuck in a Sunnydale overcome by enchanted chocolate bars, or are we about to see how these new kids handle the myriad apocalypses that the TV crew experienced over seven seasons? After a few issues worth of doldrums once the HELLMOUTH crossover ended, the series is now back on track.