Buffy Season 9 #11, Summary and Review
Before I embark on writing this all out, I feel entitled to tell you that I'm not particularly looking forward to the task. I do it first and foremost because I enjoy it, but some issues are more enjoyable than others, and all of them take time to properly summarize. This one? Nothing happens. If you've been paying attention to the previews and hints from Dark Horse, believe me, you will not be surprised by anything in the issue. Doesn't mean it's a complete waste of time, but right now I'm more excited about trying out the lap desk I got at Ikea than I am about discussing Buffy.
Lap desk is pretty awesome, though, so at least I'm comfortable. Okay!
Three pages from the preview, showing us how Buffy's got a job as a bodyguard working under Kennedy's direction, and her thoughts on it. She's alerted to suspicious activity on her floor, and hones in on a huge scaly green demon dressed as a bellhop.
Kennedy tells her that a demon doesn't fit the profile, but Buffy's already running down the hall, past a maid with a cleaning cart and into the stairwell. She spots him at ground level, three floors beneath her. Kennedy is still talking into her earpiece about how the demon is not the primary concern, so Buffy turns it off. She jumps down to the floor and attacks the demon, knocking him to the floor with one punch and pinning him. She asks how he was going to kill the client and starts searching his pockets, coming up with - hotel mints.
She lets him up, asking, "You really are a bellhop?" and he replies, "Since this realm was cut off from the central hell banks, I've had to take three jobs just to make ends meet." An alarm clipped to Buffy's belt goes off - her client has pressed the panic button.
We cut to the client's room. The maid we saw earlier has a gun pointed at him, telling him to hand over the briefcase. Buffy rushes into the room, but she's too late. The 'maid' fires, and all she can do is jump in the path of the bullet. In the next panel, they're all still standing there, nobody injured, Buffy acting confused. Same view of her is repeated on the next page, this time on a security camera monitor, with Kennedy and Buffy watching.
Buffy says she understands that she saw a demon and left her post; Kennedy emphasizes that it was against her orders, and Buffy would have been shot if it hadn't been a training mission. Buffy asks about putting blanks in the gun. Kennedy, who seems to know about Buffy's distaste for guns, says it helped make her point. She shows Buffy into the next room and introduces her to 'Carl' and 'Tagorak', who are actors who played the bellhop demon and the client. They're both fine, and now dressed in street clothes. Buffy apologizes. Carl, the demon, is angry at her for stereotyping demons.
As they leave, Kennedy apologizes to Buffy for not telling her it was a test, but says that since they're providing Slayer bodyguards to some of the most powerful people in the world, she couldn't let her go into the field untested. Buffy objects that she's saved the world more times than anyone else in the building. Kennedy points out how the assassin slipped right past her; Buffy points to her Slayer instincts sending her to take out the demon, and says that's why people hire Slayers.
Kennedy replies, "People hire us because we're strong, smart, and good in a fight. Not because they're scared of refugees from the hell dimension next door." Buffy, she says, needs to stop looking at the world like she's the Chosen One before she's field certified. She tells Buffy that she'll be accompanying her the next day to escort "some social-media wunderkind", so she should study up.
The conversation continues as they exit the building, which turns out to be a temple-style structure in a nice, secluded landscape. The sun is setting, and a team of Slayers is training on the lawn under the direction of a woman with a long blonde braid. Kennedy talks about how most Slayers didn't even finish high school, and there isn't a lot they're suited for now that the world is minus magic. Buffy says that's because they were busy saving the world, and won't let Kennedy say they didn't. They reach the parking lot and Kennedy gets into her car, saying, "I joined this company to give all these girls a shot at having some kind of future. Including you." She reminds her that the job pays more than pouring coffee.
It's night. Buffy's getting coffee from a machine in an empty lobby (same building they were in before?). Someone asks if sleep escapes her, and reveals himself in a moment as Eldre Koh. He says he was lurking because Slayers attack on sight, and she tells him his kind has fallen off the Slayer most wanted list. He reintroduces himself, as she was weakened by the Siphon last time they met, but she remembers him anyway, and Spike has told her about him. She asks where he's been.
He's looking for the demon responsible for his imprisonment; his code demands vengeance before he can put his life in order. He didn't want to ask Buffy, because he's indebted to her already, but he needs her help to find his enemy. She doesn't want to get involved, citing her new responsibilities and how she's staying away from demons. He accuses her of trying to profit from her power, and she gets angry, telling him to go find Simone if he wants to lecture a Slayer about misuse of power. Buffy's just trying to get her life together, just like Eldre Koh is.
She leaves the facility with an armload of books, thinking about the conflict between her instincts and her need for this job, and comes into a large dormitory full of Slayers sleeping on identical beds with identical trunks in front of them. She sits down on her own, opens her trunk (her usual Slayer stuff, including a book that says 'VAMP', is in there), and slips a stake into her jacket. "Where do you think you're going?" asks someone off-panel.
It's Kennedy. She reminds Buffy that the internet whiz kid lands tonight, and they're leaving in five. Buffy asks if this is another training assignment, and doesn't believe Kennedy's denial. She walks away, saying that there are zompires that need to be killed, despite Kennedy's response that she can consider herself fired if she leaves now.
Kennedy follows her out and they stop to keep talking. Kennedy says, "All the other girls said I shouldn't hire you. They didn't want to work with the person who made Slayers obsolete. But I did." Buffy asks her why - the last time they talked, there was a lot of blame being tossed around, and most of it was directed at her. She brings up Willow, but Kennedy says that getting dumped by Willow was the best thing that could have happened to her. She realized that her old life was over, and slaying wasn't a future. Buffy holds up her stake, saying that the zompires mean it's not over.
"The world embraced vampires with open arms, Buffy. Now it's got to learn how to deal with them without crying for the nearest Slayer." Kennedy goes on to say that Buffy's one of (!) the strongest girls she knows, and the people they help as bodyguards do need the protection, even if it's not from anything supernatural. Buffy's only response is that she can't just shut it off, and Kennedy says she's scared - she doesn't know how to be good at something that doesn't involve a grand destiny. Buffy denies it and leaves.
On the next page she's perched on a gargoyle, way up high, in the rain. She's thinking about how maybe she is scared, but she can't walk away from the people who need her help. She hears a scream and goes leaping to the rescue of a woman cornered in an alley by a zompire, feeling better for knowing that she's making a difference in spite of ditching Kennedy's mission. Before she slays, though, a cop gets there first, staking the zompire and saving the woman. Buffy watches as a couple patrol cars come up and Dowling steps out of one, giving orders about taking the victim to the hospital and filing reports.
Buffy jumps down to tell him how the cop dusted the zomp from right under her, and he replies, "Thanks to you and Spike, I think we might be able to give you a run for your money." She expresses her sympathy about Cheung, and he explains that it was that incident that convinced the department to support his special task force. It hasn't been easy, but they're figuring out the patterns of zompires and making progress. She smiles sadly, asking if they don't need her anymore, and he says he doesn't know about that, but she's got to have a night off sometimes. "What is 'night off'?" she replies.
Buffy catches up to Kennedy before dawn, finding her near a private jet that's just landed outside the city - which convinces Buffy that the mission isn't a training set-up. Kennedy gives her one more chance to get in on it, but says she has to stay by her side and carry the luggage. The client's name is Theo Daniels. He's the founder of a social-networking site called 'Tincan' (which we've been seeing posters for throughout the issue - and possibly earlier ones, if anyone wants to check for them). Theo, a thin nerdy-looking young guy with curly blond hair, steps off the plane and hands Buffy a case. He asks, "You're both Slayers, right?"
Kennedy confirms it but says they're trained to handle non-supernatural scenarios, but he says he hired them specifically because of their experience with demons. They ask why, and he says, "An organization from a hell dimension is trying to kill me. I think you've heard of them before - Wolfram and Hart."
Shoot, I used up all my thoughts in the first paragraph of the summary.
No, okay. I can work this. First, I'm not sure if this has been officially confirmed, but it seems clear that we have our new gay character. If he's going to be dating Andrew I dislike him on principle, but other than that, between his back story and his business ingenuity, he could prove to be pretty interesting. Apparently, whatever he's doing with Tincan (love that name, can't help it) is dangerous enough that he attracted the attention of Wolfram & Hart, which is already awesome. It's the most exciting element to come to Buffy's story since we learned Spike would be leaving, so I'm okay with accepting everything else in this issue just for the sake of setting it up.
Kennedy was remarkably tolerable throughout the whole thing, which kind of made me feel like she's being written out of character, but she really isn't. She's a smart girl, ambitious, controlling, and inflexible, and not without a compassionate side. This is exactly the kind of project that she would launch under these circumstances, and she's approaching it in a very business-like manner. It's a relief to hear that she's over Willow, and honestly, I was taking her side in every one of the arguments she had with Buffy.
...Which is not to say that I liked doing it. Is Buffy being written as less intelligent than she should be? Her stance did make sense: she's hardwired to fight demons, not humans, and it's extremely difficult to go against one's nature in that manner, but the way it was portrayed might have been taken too far. Did anyone reading really think that she was right about the bellhop demon, even just from the preview pages? Did we learn more from watching Buffy's life than she did by living it?
On the other hand, I really couldn't fault her for turning down Eldre Koh. It's not like he offered her anything in return, just, "Hey I need a favor and you should be okay with that since you're the Slayer." Nothing against him; I'm actually glad he's back. If there was one thing I didn't expect from the issue - it was Tincan, okay, if there were two things I didn't expect from the issue, they were Tincan and the re-emergence of Eldre Koh's mission. Not the Siphon! Alright then, who?
Nice appearance from Dowling, too. The frustrating thing about the issue was the way all of the events in it were really just demonstrations of what characters have been saying about the world for a while now, but in Dowling's case, I didn't mind. He's doing a great job with his brand-new destiny. I'm proud of him.
Back to Kennedy vs. Buffy a little bit. One line I really liked was in Kennedy's analysis of Buffy and her fear: "That's why you've convinced yourself the world can't function without you." I think she's totally right, and it's an aspect of Buffy's character that fascinates me. Season 8 was about Buffy's commitment to her post as the leader of the Slayers, and how it ultimately brought her down. She wasn't able to cope with the idea that they weren't saving the world under her guidance. She still can't, apparently. None of us have ever felt responsible for saving the world, so we don't know what it feels like to have that responsibility yanked out from under us. Of course Buffy is worth just as much as a person as she was before, but when she weighs her current influence against the difference that she used to make, well, it's no wonder she wants destiny back.
Art's good, glad to have Jeanty back. I really like the way he draws Kennedy; for some reason I mostly remember her in Season 8 as being drawn by Karl Moline. The actress's features are just a little unusual, and I think that carries over well in the comic to separate her from all the other pretty girls. Nice settings, too. I can't imagine that there are ever that many stars visible anywhere near San Francisco, but it looks like he was enjoying drawing them, so more power to him. (Unless it was the new colorist, in which case, same goes.)
Notables in the lettercol - Scott makes a Kennedy joke, which I found all the more amusing because I was so much less annoyed by Kennedy than I thought I would be. There's also a couple nasty reminders that the abortion arc happened (been trying so hard to forget), aaaand...the shippers attack. "We Spuffies, who have been trashed by DH from almost the beginning..." Yes, of course that's a direct quote. I can't make this stuff up myself. Scott's answer made it worthwhile, though. "We do not mean to trash shippers, but we can't give you what you want if it's not what Joss thinks is right for the characters." Amen.
Putting that exchange next to the content of the issue really puts Spike's role in the series in perspective: he was mentioned twice in the story, neither instance having to do with his relationship to Buffy. To all appearances, she's not really thinking about him, but the fans still are. That's where his absence hits. His miniseries is absolutely where he belongs right now; I just hope Buffy's series can handle whatever loss of readership comes with it.
Think that covers everything. I really meant to take a break before I finished this and go eat something, but the lap desk has me comfortably trapped here. MUCH LIKE BUFFY is COMFORTABLY TRAPPED in her...there actually isn't a parallel to be found here, sorry, I had to try.