Buffy '97 Shows Why Ironic Horror Took Pop Culture by Storm

Long before BOOM! Studios decided to continue the continuity with its own rendition of the story, it was always evident just how much Buffy the Vampire Slayer left an imprint on horror within pop culture, and the new one-shot Buffy '97 helps make that fact painfully clear. The year 1997 refers to the year that the first episode of the Emmy-winning first premiered on television screens. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was released at an interesting time as it came out one year removed from the release of Scream, which the Buffy '97 comic book appropriately spins off in a clever crossover variant cover.


Both franchises represent a point in time where horror became more ironic and self-aware of its tropes, outright commenting on them in sharp, snarky dialogue. The chain of releases following Scream and Buffy started a wave of horror where the writing directly reacts to old, tired cliches that were common in the genre, actively trying to subvert expectations in the process. The success of Buffy inspired several to follow in its footsteps, using the same blueprint.

Related: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Pays Tribute to Scream in Genius Mash-Up Art

It's hard not to read Buffy '97 by Jeremy Lambert and Marianna Ignazzi and not reflect on Buffy's impact on 90s pop culture when Buffy '97 is a throwback to 90s pop culture as a whole. As the story sees Buffy and Willow trapped inside a 90s fashion magazine, the one-shot encapsulates all of the vibrant colors and the cheesy (but rad) dialogue that makes that decade so instantly recognizable. To emphasize the tribute for all things '90s related, the one-shot even features its own sitcom montage at the start that would give Friends a run for its money.

The issue embodies that whimsical, colorful early 90s culture without sacrificing Buffy's usual story tone that's been illustrated in the recent run of BOOM! Buffy comics like The Vampire Slayer and Last Slayer, thus capturing the spirit of the Buffy franchise, both the shows and the comics. It's worth mentioning that the comic even has a certain camp vibe seen in the original '92 movie. Seeing the vibrancy unexpectedly interrupted by an unsuspecting darker horror tone was something common to see in the horror genre at that time. Furthermore, it's oddly apropos for Buffy '97 to come out in the same year as the new Scream and other horror reboots (i.e. Texas Chainsaw), as well as throwback horror like the new Revealer. This Buffy 25th-anniversary one-shot takes the franchise into that "what's old is new again" direction that modern horror has been going for. The difference is that in the context of the comic, it comes off more naturally because it takes the character back to the year she debuted. Buffy '97 takes Buffy herself back to her roots, so to speak.

By doing so, Buffy '97 highlights the impact of the franchise in shaping horror as audiences see it today. BOOM! Studios once again do justice by the franchise that started it all as Buffy '97 is not only another worthy entry in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise, but also manages to emphasize its importance in pop culture.