REVIEW: Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Season 9 #6

by

Or – “Natural Storytelling Or Courting Controversy?”

**Alternate Dialogue for this week’s cover**

Buffy – “PLEASE tell me that was a stake…”

Spike – “Sorry, pet.  I AM just happy to see you…”

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON 9 #6
Writer: Andrew Chambliss
Penciler: Georges Jeanty
Inker: Karl Story
Cover Artist(s): Phil Noto/Georges Jeanty w/ Dexter Vines  Michelle Madsen
Colorist: Michelle Madsen
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Editor(s): Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Season 9:  Buffy Summers saved the world from Twilight.  (I will not be making any Edward Cullen jokes because it’s just too easy anymore.)  Her actions did not come without a cost, though, as cutting off the world to the evil things that would have eaten it also meant destroying the seed of magic and disempowering those who used it, including her own best friend Willow.  Her actions have left Buffy in a whole new semi-normal world, one that thankfully is less oppressive than season six of her TV show, which dealt with similar themes.  At the end of last issue, Buffy’s life took another turn thanks to a positive result on a home pregnancy test.  The Slayer is with child…

NIKKI’S BACK!

I have to admit, upon picking up up this week’s book selections, that I immediately gravitated towards the alternate cover, featuring 70′s slayer Nikki Wood in a full-on parody of Marvel’s old ‘Tomb Of Dracula” series.  Having heard some of the hubbub about this issue beforehand, it makes perfect sense to address the question of what happens when the slayer has a child by checking in on the last slayer that we knew had a child.  The flashbacks with Nikki and her Watcher (whose facial hair evokes a roadie for Lynyrd Skynyrd) are quite fun, and they make for an interesting contrast with Buffy’s own quandary.  I was a bit bothered by the middle of the issue wherein Buffy tried to figure out whom the father was by listing all the men who were at her party in issue #1, during which she blacked out.  The awkwardness didn’t come from watching this poor young woman trying to figure whom she slept with (or, given the prospects, HOW she could have been that drunk), but instead from the fact that I don’t really feel like this story hook was built up by the tale itself.  I know that real life doesn’t always have a clear through-line, but the BLAM! moment at the end of last issue came across more as a “Hey, let’s do something shocking!” rather than as a moment that naturally flowed from the story and characters…  I say this with mixed feelings, as I do feel that this could make for some fascinating storyteling in the short run (and I also got called an idiot for questioning some of the twists and turns of the truly awful Season Six in a previous review.)

HOW DO YOU MAKE INTROSPECTION EXCITING?

Buffy seeks out counsel from her neariest and deariest, including all-grown-up sister Dawn, Nikki Wood’s likewise-grown-up son Robin, and her foe-turned-friend-turned-lover-turned-friend-again Spike.  It’s Spike who really livens up the proceedings here, as he teams up with new cast member Detective Dowling to teach the man about the best practices to handle the city’s influx of vamps.  (When Spike arrives, he also gets in the line of the issue, as he tells the cop, “[Vampires] don’t ALL have spaceships.”  Heh…)  There are some very delicate and subtle character interactions going on here, as well, given that Spike KILLED Robin’s mother, while the question of Buffy and Spike’s romance has never quite gotten the stake through the heart (you should excuse the expression) that would finally put it to rest.  Spike and Buffy close the issue out with a quiet conversation, wherein Buffy tells him her plan:  “I’m going to have an abortion.”  She asks if he’ll come with her, and he agrees, closing the issue with a wonderful frame of Spike reaching out to help her up.  Visually speaking, the issue is a pretty strong achievement, given that most of it involves conversations between characters.  Georges Jeanty does an amazing job delivering it all, with each characters facial expressions clear and distinct, and the necessary image likenesses spot-on.  (Spike looks particularly James Marsters-y this time ’round.)

THE VERDICT:  I’M TORN…

When I read Buffy, I have two warring thought processes in my head:  One, wondering what will happen with imaginary characters who have been “friends” of mine since the mid-90s;  the other getting irritable with a creative team that sometimes seems to want to push buttons as much as tell a coherent story.  Buffy Season Eight featured a scene wherein Buffy ended up having an affair with a girl who was crushing on her, which spun out of events in the comic and made logical, internal sense (at least to me.)  This particular issue handles a divisive topic, and it does so in a way that makes me feel a bit rushed.  We have only just found out that Buffy is pregnant, and while I don’t question the character’s right to make any given decision, the speed with which the decision is undertaken feels wrong.  My hope is that this will be an ongoing plot point and not a quick three-issue arc hook that becomes nothing more than a lightning rod for debate, as Buffy deserves better.  Buffy/Spike shippers will be pleased by the quiet, intimate conversation that closes this issue (as well as implications that Spike is still on the list of potential baby-daddies), and overall it’s a nicely-constructed issue.  Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 9 #6 has a good sense of history, but doesn’t use its central conflict to the best, earning a still-impressive 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I’ll be interested to see where this all leads, and as for my vote for who is the father?  Andrew.

You’re welcome.

Rating: ★★★½☆