In the days after Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel finished their television run (2003 and 2004 respectively), I was an avid reader of the post-series comics, which was a slightly weird thing for me because I was never really a comic book reader. I wasn’t ready to let go of the characters that I loved, though, so I had a standing order at my local comic book store and I faithfully bought them. Then it all got sort of overwhelming and I stopped buying them. Until High School is Hell was released, that is.
If you’ve been living under a rock – or are perhaps to young to know the cultural touchstone that is Buffy Summers, here’s a quick primer.
Buffy is a sixteen-year-old girl who moves to Sunnydale from Los Angeles. She’s the Slayer, the ‘Chosen One”. Chosen for what? you might well ask. To fight the vampires (and other demons) that roam the earth. Sunnydale, as it happens, is built on the Hellmouth, so there are a lot of demons. She is aided by Rupert Giles, her Watcher, and her friends Willow and Xander. She falls in love with a beautiful, tortured vampire Angel, and crosses paths with other vampires, including Drusilla and Spike. Over the course of seven seasons Buffy fights the good fight, often at great personal cost. The show is spectacular: witty, funny, heartbreaking. It’s must watch television, as is its spin-off, Angel.
I picked up volume one of High School Is Hell (comprised of the first four issues) recently, and quite enjoyed it. In this iteration of Buffy’s story, our beloved vampire slayer is back in high school. It’s a slightly AU (alternate universe) look at Buffy’s beginnings. For example, Buffy’s mother, Joyce, has a live-in boyfriend, Eric. Drusilla, Spike and Anya are already in Sunnydale. Robin Wood (high school principal in season 7) is now a hot teenager. No sign of Angel yet. Cordelia is actually nice. Willow and Xander are still besties and still the first to befriend L.A. transplant, Buffy.
It’s a slightly off-kilter, yet somehow comforting world to slip back into. Sort of like well-written fanfiction…with pictures.