Writers Andrew Chambliss and Scott Allie wrap up the latest story arc, “Apart (of me),” and Buffy’s time as a one-armed robot in Issue #10 of Buffy: Season 9. While the issue features a couple of great scenes and the arc wraps up leaving us wondering what’s to come next, the end of this chapter of Season 9 seems to lack the “omph!” that is desperately desired.
Here’s a quick summary of Issue #10:
This issue opens with a kidnapped Robo-Buffy (who has Buffy’s mind, but not her body) tied to a chair and facing new teammates Pseudo-Buffy (who has Buffy’s body, but not her mind) and Simone. Simone has managed to convince Pseudo-Buffy that Robo-Buffy doesn’t deserve to have her body back, because she was so irresponsible in her actions in I. Simone decides torture by tool kit is the best option.
Just as Simone is about to start the torture-fun, Spike, Andrew, and the bug crew break through a nearby wall and spring into action. Robo-Buffy slips out of the ropes restraining her by detaching her arm and is soon in a one-on-one with Pseudo-Buffy. Simone and Spike duke it out and the renegade slayer ends up killing a number of Spike’s bug crew. Eventually, Robo-Buffy and Pseudo-Buffy realize they should be working together and are able to defeat Simone, even though the baddie gets away to fight another day.
Back in San Fran, Detective Dowling gets labeled as the department’s lead xompire expert. Of course, Dowling thinks Buffy should be playing that role, and this seems to intrigue the Chief.
Spike and Buffy (now back to her original and single form) have a brief scene on the roof of her apartment where Spike tells Buffy that he doesn’t want to go back to lurking in the shadows waiting for things to get so rough that Buffy runs to him again. Despite her desire for him to stay, she won’t go with him and Spike leaves, seeing this as a sign that he needs to separate himself from Buffy in order to get over her.
The last we see her, Buffy quits her job at the coffee shop.
Spike’s exit scene. Everything about this scene works beautifully. The “Spuffy” crowd was a little vocal about the lack of focus on any of the romantic feelings between Buffy and Spike in Season 8, and while some fans may still be upset about the direction their relationship is headed, Chambliss has given the former lovers a number of touching scenes and he’s done them well (something that’s harder than it may appear)! Spike’s exit in Issue #10 is poignant and emotional, with Cliff Richards’ pencils and Andy Owens’ inks really boosting the impact of the writing. Michelle Madsen colors the scene perfectly, basking the characters in the beautifully depressing purple/orange hue of San Fran’s freshly set sun. While I’m disappointed personally that Spike is making the decision to move on, it’s fantastic to see them still working at this level and in the sequential art form!
Where is Commander Cody when you need him? A number of Spike’s bug crew bite the big one in this issue courtesy of Simone, and even though Spike cries out at one point, lamenting a bug’s death (Sebastian…poor Sebastian…), it still feels like these characters are hugely underdeveloped and are completely expandable. And, even if some are killed, we have no real attachment or idea of the number of the crew, so new ones can just show up in the following issue without any real impact. It reminds me of the underused clones from the Star Wars prequels and how superbly they’ve been used in Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars series. The writers, time-and-again, bring humanity to these “cannon-fodder” characters and find ways to humanize them and explore what perspectives and thoughts they might have regarding their situation. In the case of Buffy, these are all things that can be corrected and expanded on in the upcoming Spike miniseries, so let’s hope Dark Horse goes in that direction.
So, that abortion plot-point… I remember being incredibly shocked and impressed by the writing of this book when Buffy confided in Spike regarding her decision to get an abortion. It knocked me off my feet! I had no idea where we were headed, but Buffy was breaking ground again and it made me proud to be a long-time fan. Now that the Robo-Buffy storyline is wrapped up, it seems that Buffy’s pregnancy was a big fake out and nothing more which is just, well…disappointing. I can understand there were interesting things to explore with this current story arc, but I can’t help but think that there wasn’t enough “ground” covered by the Robo-Buffy storyline to justify nullifying one of the most powerful scenes present in the series.
The Ugly (Fan Buzz, that is…)
Fan reaction has been split on this issue, with good reviews coming from Comics Grinder, and BAMFAS, and some poor reviews coming from sites like IGN.
Make it work! Buffy mentions towards the end of the book that she’s planning to lose the pink streaks, but there were a few fans that lamented Buffy not accepting the change in hair style. Personally, given that the streaks were a gift from a violently insane person, I’m fine with their temporary existence.
Simone, the annoying slayer! Many readers seem to share the feeling that Simone is operating less and less on the level of “Big Bad” and seems more annoying than anything else. Let’s hope the rest of the season isn’t composed of Simone doing bad things to the Buffy crew and then escaping over and over again.
Death to Spike’s bug army! Despite how strongly I disagree with them, there is a vocal crowd of readers who are bugged by Spike’s bug army! They’ve even gone as far as to say that they wouldn’t mind if they didn’t survive the season! Save the bugs!
Time to wrap up this review, Scoobies! This issue may have been a little of a let-down, but Season 9 is still going strong and there’s no reason to bail now! See you in thirty!
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer