| The subject of this article is of alternate canonicity.|
While created as part of licensed material, it is not part of the original Buffyverse, but its own developed story.
Welcome Back to the Hellmouth, Part One is the first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2019) comic book series. Written by Jordie Bellaire and illustrated by Dan Mora, it was published on January 23, 2019 by Boom! Studios.
Go back to the beginning as the critically acclaimed pop culture phenomenon Buffy the Vampire Slayer is reimagined under the guidance of series creator Joss Whedon. This is the Buffy Summers you know, who wants what every average teenager wants: friends at her new school, decent grades, and to escape her imposed destiny as the next in a long line of vampire slayers tasked with defeating the forces of evil.
But her world looks a lot more like the one outside your window, as Eisner Award-Nominated writer Jordie Bellaire (Redlands) and Russ Manning Award-Winner Dan Mora (Saban's Go Go Power Rangers) bring Buffy into a new era with new challenges, new friends… and a few enemies you might already recognize. But the more things change, the more they stay the same, as the Gang faces brand new Big Bads, and the threat lurking beneath the perfectly manicured exterior of Sunnydale High confirms what every teenager has always known: high school truly is hell.
On her shift at Tunaverse, Buffy goes outside for a break. Two costumers also leave, but a vampire suddenly jumps on them, ready to bite the girl. Buffy arrives kicking the vampire, who recognizes her as the Slayer, and stakes him. Buffy is amused the boy from couple she saved thinks she's a superhero, but the girl corrects that they're not a couple. As they briefly talk, she also calls Buffy weird and says that she likes her. The boy, though, is worried that Buffy just "vaporized a guy", so he questions his friend — Willow — what their savior could be if not a superhero. As she leaves back to work, Buffy answers: "Just a Buffy."
In the next day, at Sunnydale High School, the two friends are discussing the boy being curious about Buffy. They see her entering the school library and decide to follow, but he is afraid she might turn them into smoke too. Pondering about witches and demons from video games, he storms into the library punching and screaming about vampires. Buffy and the librarian look at him with disbelief. Willow attempts to cover the awkwardness thanking Buffy for "making that creepy guy disappear" the night before, but the librarian quietly reprimands Buffy for blowing her cover with just weeks in Sunnydale. The boy interrupts telling the librarian he was being harsh: Buffy had saved both Willow and himself. The librarian tells the two friends to return to class, as he needed a moment to talk to Buffy. Leaving, Willow says she they didn't mean to get Buffy into trouble, and they both mention seeing her later.
Now alone, Buffy tells the librarian — Giles — he was't there to see the scope of the situation; she doesn't control when the bad guys show up, and she did what she needed to do. He argues she needs to do better, but Buffy questions how can saving two lives is not good enough. She complains he doesn't listen to her, and never consider if what she does is already her best. As she turns her back, Giles tells her she can't just walk away from him. She asks if he doesn't have any other young mind to pressure with overachieve, and he's left alone.
At night, Buffy is in her bedroom reading a comic book inside a history book. Her mother passes by her door and, after asking about her studies, laughs as she catches the lie. Buffy explains it's the first week of school, with no homework yet, so her mother asks about her day, hoping she didn't find any trouble. Buffy argues that trouble that finds her, but her mother simply answers that she loves her anyway, calling her "trouble maker". Buffy tells her mother she'll sleep soon, and she closes the door. Later, though, Buffy is at a cemetery, and is lying on a grave taking a nap. A vampire appears and they fight, while she comments on his ugly necklace. Although, when Buffy stakes him, nothing happens. He exclaims about a legend being true and a "yard sale witch" not being a hag after all. Buffy concludes she just needs to cut his head to slay him, but he leaves, threatening to return with more friends and silver.
As he walks through the streets, the vampire presses a "no teenagers" bottom on the wall, which opens a secret door. He enters a magic shop, and the woman behind the counter asks if he's satisfied. The vampire asks her for the complete set for his clan, and she brings him to the collection. She describes the jewelry as not having known origins, since nobody wanted the credit for creating such abomination as providing absolute immortality. Before discussing cost, she offers him a toast on him being a man of integrity. He tells her he's not a man, but a beast, and takes her drink. Wile the woman compares beasts and men — thinking only of themselves, never the world —, his skin immediately melts off, and he turns to dust.
The next day, Buffy arrives at Sunnydale High library, and Giles asks about her patrol. She describes to him the encounter with the immune vampire, and shows him a sketch of the pendant he wore. Giles takes the notebook for research and, as the bell rings, tells her to not be late to class. Sitting in classroom, Buffy receives a note from Willow: "Hang out tonight with me & Xander?" In response, she smiles back.
Later, Buffy, Willow, and Xander are on the sofa watching movies. Willow asks Buffy how long she has been "stabbing random dudes", and Buffy reveals to them that who they though had just a skin condition was a vampire. They start laughing at her. She goes on explaining her own calling as the Slayer, and that she's risking scaring away the first friends she's made in Sunnydale only because she has to. They begin to ask about various creatures, such as witches, which Willow fantasizes about meeting one despite already having a girlfriend. Buffy also explains Giles' role as her Watcher, and describes him as strict. Willow reflects that maybe Buffy's big mystical responsibility is the reason he acts this way, but Buffy complains that she just wants to have a normal night as a normal teenager.
As they talked, Xander all but wrote on his computer about his inner struggles, under the username @theXeppo. In these writings, he mentioned his solitude in Sunnydale, the impossibility of being vulnerable, and lying about himself to those around him. He concludes that he knows he should be happy, and maybe he could be so around the right people.
Meanwhile, the magic shop owner is preparing the last packages to be sent the following day, including poisonous items to Wolfram & Hart. As she sits down to watch TV, a mysterious figure enters the shop, asking if it's open. She tells the client to return tomorrow, but, revealing her face, the vampire answers: "No, Anya. I think I'll take what I want now."
This story is an alternative version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with no sense of continuity with previous materials. Some notable comparisons are:
- This story takes place in 2019, as opposed to the debut of the TV series in 1997.
- Buffy begins working in customer service as soon as she moves to Sunnydale, while her original counterpart would do so only years later, at Helen's Kitchen ("Anne"), Doublemeat Palace ("Doublemeat Palace"), and Pick Me Up (Last Gleaming, Part Five).
- Buffy saves Willow and Xander from a vampire, revealing the reality of the supernatural to them, similarly to "Welcome to the Hellmouth".
- Before she befriends Willow and Xander, Buffy has already began training with Giles. Originally, her encounter with them that motivates her to accept her role as the Slayer ("Welcome to the Hellmouth").
- Anya works at a magic shop, as her original counterpart would do so years after meeting the Scooby Gang ("No Place Like Home").
- Willow is a confident teenager, an effect of her having already came out while in high school, as opposed to only in college ("New Moon Rising").
- Xander has @theXeppo as his username, a reference to when he is called "the Zeppo" of the Scooby Gang in episode "The Zeppo".
- Drusilla arrives in Sunnydale within the first month after Buffy moves in, displaying no weakness from torture her original counterpart did ("School Hard").
Chronologically, this story takes place three weeks after Buffy moved to Sunnydale, during the first two days of school.
- Buffy complains to Giles that he was't present while she fought a vampire and therefore couldn't argue that saving lives was not enough. In Welcome Back to the Hellmouth, Part Three, after his life is one that she saved, Giles finally tells her she done well and he's proud of her.
- Willow mentions her girlfriend, Rose, who will first appear in Welcome Back to the Hellmouth, Part Two.
- Antonio (Only mentioned)
- Rupert Giles
- Alexander Harris
- Rose Martinez (Only mentioned)
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Hank Summers (Only mentioned)
- Joyce Summers
- Unidentified vampire I
- Unidentified vampire II
Organizations and titles
- Los Angeles (Only mentioned)
Weapons and objects
- Unidentified magic jewelry set
- Witch Killer 3 (Only mentioned)
- First unidentified vampire, staked by Buffy Summers.
- Second unidentified vampire, melted by Anyanka.
Behind the scenes
- The title references the television series' episode debut, "Welcome to the Hellmouth". Becca Carey's variant cover is a homage to the episode as well.
- Royal Dunlap's "Chosen One" variant cover introduces an unidentified Slayer, active in Miami in 1979.
- The Slayer prophecy included in the issue has been altered from the television series, replacing female pronouns for gender neutral "they".
- Xander's groan "Grr, argh!" is a homage to the Mutant Enemy Productions logo, present after each episode of the series.
- The new letters to the editor section debuts, titled "Sunnydale High Sentinel" in reference to the school newspaper of same name.
- The back of the single issues includes a quote from episode "Becoming, Part Two".
- Two secret covers, limited to only 100 copies each, were randomly inserted into the print runs of the "Choose your side" variants. 198 out of the total 200 covers are signed by the artist Dan Panosian, while two are signed by Joss Whedon.
- In January 17, Boom! Studios announced a second printing for this issue, as it had sold out still at the distributor level, a week before it had even started to go on sale in stores.
- This issue was the 12th best selling comic in its debut week at ComiXology digital platform.
- Welcome Back to the Hellmouth, Part One was the 70th best selling comic issue in its publishing month, with 31,043 sales in January 2019 at comic specialty stores.
Pop culture references
- Xander jokes about the existence of the Batboy, a fictional creature from supermarket tabloids.
- Buffy, Willow, and Xander watch the film Nosferatu (1922).
- Anya watches the Firefly television series, notably directed by Joss Whedon.
- Xander's username @theXeppo references actor Zeppo Marx.
- This issue won as "Licensed Comic of the Year" for the Diamond Gem Awards 2019.
- ↑ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 Main". Boom! Studios. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- ↑ Rich Johnston, "Joss Whedon has Signed Secret Buffy The Vampire Slayer #1 Variant Covers, in Store Today". Bleeding Cool, January 23, 2019.
- ↑ "Boom! Studios Announces Second Printing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1". Boom! Studios, January 17, 2019.
- ↑ Rich Johnston, "ComiXology Bestseller List, 25th January 2019". Bleeding Cool, January 25, 2019.
- ↑ "Top 500 Comics--January 2019". ICv2, February 25, 2019.
- ↑ Rich Johnston, "Once & Future and Spawn Top Diamond Gem Award 2019 Winners". Bleeding Cool, March 27, 2020.