Somehow, manhwa artist Hye-kyung Baek tweaks the original model for Gossip Girl and to make it faster-paced. In her reboot, she mashes up relationships and blows through major plot points, ultimately producing a hilarious take on the franchise.
We start with a sexed up image of our beloved Blair Waldorf. Gossip Girl resumes her welcoming narration about the world of the Upper East Side, this time noting: "Well, you see, we do have something you don't...which is unlimited access to money and booze and whatever else we want...and parents who are rarely home, giving us tons of privacy." That was blunt.
All these people? Extras. Looks like there will be less time in the character's heads and more time on the party circuit. At this point, I should mention that I have not watched the Gossip Girl TV show - I've only read the novels. So all comparisons will be to the books, which may be a little different than what ended up on television.
Here, we finally meet our main characters in full color. The girl at the top is Blair Waldorf. That guy at the bottom, kind of Speed Racer meets Fred from Scooby-Doo? That's Chuck. Yes, he is rocking an ascot. Blair is still in love with Nate, and has an elaborate wedding fantasy that spans two pages. Chuck is still an asshole. But where is Serena?
Here, artistic and quirky Vanessa is reborn as a drink-swilling hanger-on, one working to infiltrate the inner sanctum of the rich and popular. In this version of the story, Vanessa and Dan are not together - it is unclear if they ever dated, as Dan is presented as solely interested in Serena.
Serena appears, showing up to a party that she is not invited to. Luckily, Vanessa is there and helps her get in. Serena and Blair had a falling out over Serena sleeping with Nate. In the books, this is shown as a friendly thing, complete with a "parting my red sea" in joke between the two. The manhwa, however, shows them drinking and hooking up, one night stand style. For this deed, Serena (referred to as "the old queen") has been exiled and Blair now rules the roost.
It's also kind of fitting that the roost would come equipped with chickenheads. This is Nate on bended knee, but he isn't proposing - Chuck kicked him. So far, Nate has two lines in the manga, and there is no sign of the smoked out procrastinator we know and love from the series.
Someone who did benefit from the reboot is Dan. The brooding, semi-hack poet somehow managed to land Serena and asserts quite a bit of authority regarding what's best for her. Far from being a push over, it seems like Dan is starting to call all the shots.
The intro to the series is a tease from Yen Press - it runs about 35 pages and feels even shorter. Still, Blair's wicked promise to steal Dan from Serena symbolizes yet another jump into unfamiliar territory - and promise that Baek won't be shy in reshaping the Gossip Girl universe.