Comic Publishers

June 6, 2012

Dark Horse Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #1-9

I’m a fan of Buffy, I watched the show from beginning to end, I still watch repeats when I see it on TV. I’ve had trouble with the comics, though. I didn’t care for season 8 at all; it took the charm of the show (which I learned was from a lot of restraint due to budget) and just blew up with an adventure that felt like one of those plots could have been a whole season’s worth, but they jammed them all in together. I love Willow and magical characters, but the opening gateways across the planet and things along those lines felt like Buffy was becoming a minor player in her own story. So I was happy to see that with the end of 8 and the beginning of 9 we were dealing with a world of little to no magic.

The first issue of this run wasn’t too interesting to me; having not seen the series in a while it took me some time to adjust back to all the characters in comic book drawn form. I honestly only knew Xander because of his eye-patch and Spike due to his peroxide hair. Everyone else took me a while to stare at, and the issue felt disjointed (which I could see being part of the point with all the drinking from Buffy’s housewarming party), but then some parts were just dropped on me in flashbacks so I’d get confused. Buffy’s party was wild, and so the rest of the issue is just as fluctuating as her own memories are, but then the non-memory parts feel just as foggy at times.

The plot is that now that magic is gone, even demons are hurting for their lack of extra mojo that wasn’t internalized. An imprisoned demon is shown breaking out of his magical bindings, and he’ll obviously meet up with Buffy at some point. Willow and Buffy have been arguing over the fallout of destroying the Seed of Magic and what they are going to do about it, even though Buffy would rather worry about surviving as the rest of society does.

The next few issues were pretty good, because the plot involved Buffy dealing with something bad. Dead bodies of young people with no damage or identification are being found, with further investigation showing they are from decades ago, but are still the same age as when they disappeared. The detective on the case, Dowling, believes they could be vampires, and so Buffy becomes the prime suspect. When Buffy is met by the cops and they learn about the ashing of a dead vampire, things are made all the more troubling to understand what is going on with these bodies, and Buffy makes a run for it making her a fugitive.

Buffy runs to Xander and Dawn for help (that relationship bothers me and I’ll explain why later), but they are having relationship problems so they can’t. Spike shows up to warn Buffy that someone is coming for her and that he’s trying to figure out who, then while fighting a vampire that seems crazed and mindless, a young man shows up and…takes away the vampire’s vampness and leaves behind an unharmed corpse.

Buffy learns that since the Seed went away, all new vampires are mindless beasts because they can’t pull the necessary demon from the other dimension without magic, so now there are zombie vampires, or zompires as Xander calls them, with everyone else following suit. This new guy, Severin, has developed the ability to take away internal magic, so he can unmake vampires. He and Buffy team up, though the rest of the Scooby Gang don’t think it’s a good idea. Meanwhile, Spike learns that the one chasing down Buffy may be the demon who escaped his magical bindings, so he goes after this escapee.

The Scooby Gang turn out to be right, as Spike learns this demon is not chasing Buffy for ill will either, it’s the one who can take away power that is, Severin. Buffy and Severin arrive to fight a bunch vampires, but it’s a trap by Sev. He not only takes away power, but also absorbs it himself, and he just absorbed dozens and dozens of vamps and plans to take out Buffy since it’s her fault his girlfriend became a zompire due to a lack of magic. Spike and the demon head out to help Buffy and are met by Detective Dowling, who are all able to stop Sev with Buffy and take him into custody. While it almost seemed like this new demon guy would have a Wookiee life debt for Buffy, he just is never mentioned again as he talks to Spike about his relationship with Buffy. I want that guy back. Then, although Buffy is absolved of crime, it becomes clear that Sev was merely the vessel of power for someone else who is after Buffy, someone very pink of hair.

So those three issues of Season 9 were really good, I enjoyed them, and they had enough fun with new and old that it was well done. I’d give those issues A’s all around. The following story, however…yikes. Buffy has been having some rough nightmares of late with the First Slayer showing up in them to tell her she is not the Slayer. Some sort of pixie creature and the First Slayer are both trying to communicate with Buffy…and Willow. Willow is to leave and take the Slayer axe to try and bring back magic to the world, meanwhile, Buffy learns she is pregnant.

Then there are flashbacks to Nikki Wood, the Slayer from the 1970s that Spike killed, showing how she dealt with her pregnancy. Buffy talks with her son, Robin, about the whole ordeal, and how she should raise the child since she’s different from his mother in that Buffy has friends she can trust. While this is going on, Spike is teaching Detective Dowling the ins and outs of vampire slaying, and they discuss his relationship with Buffy, and then Buffy calls Spike. She tells him about the pregnancy and how she wanted to run away with him, but realizes that’s unrealistic and decides to get an abortion, and wants Spike to be there with her for it.

Buffy moves in with Spike in his alien space ship (see, this is the stuff I didn’t like from 8; it was even crazier than the already crazy series that had robots and demons). I’m going to cut to the part where I just got mad with the season. It turns out that Buffy has been a robot most of this season thus far. During issue one, Andrew traded her out with a duplicate body, also putting her mind in the robot body, to protect her from whatever threat Spike had been warning her about. This is how they resolve the pregnancy issue; robot Buffy’s body was giving a false positive. This is too weird for me, in a series where robo-John Ritters threatens to be your step-dad, cursed into puppetry is a thing, monster-hunting luchadores roamed L.A., musical making demons can try and marry you, and yet this is just too much for me.

I also didn’t like watching Xander becoming violent in regards to Dawn not responding to his calls for her. He cracks a bathroom tiled wall when she doesn’t answer him, quickly enough. What is that about? There better be some sort of demonic explanation for this, because it’s bothersome in a lot of ways.

I did like three of the nine issues I read, a lot, and my love of the characters will probably have me come back even with all the crazy nonsense. I’m not going to look at this comic because I think it’s good, but because I want to see how crazy it gets. If that’s something you can get into, just seeing how far the rabbit hole goes, then check out Buffy Season 9. If you can’t get into how stupid-weird things can get, I can see that, too. If given the chance to review the next nine issues, I’ll give it a shot to see whereĀ  this crazy train takes me. Otherwise, I’m fine remembering my favorite episodes and those few issues I genuinely liked for being fun Buffy stories.

Alexander Bustos
drbustos@comicattack.net

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