BTVS Season 9, Issue 13
"Guarded, Part III"
Script: Andrew Chambliss, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Nathan Massengill, Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft's) Jimmy Betancourt, Cover: Phil Noto
Blurb: Buffy (newly restored to her very own human body after discovering that she was actually a ROBOT) was back to patrolling the dark streets of San Francisco when fellow Slayer and lone ranger Kennedy approached her with a compelling job prospect.
(Doesn't it seem like there should've been a comma somewhere up there?)
Page 01: We open with Koh on a monitor, holding Kennedy's client Theo hostage. He's trying to get information about who had ordered his imprisonment, and figures that W & H can supply this in exchange for his killing Theo and keeping the digital connection open between W & H's current exiled office and Earth.
W & H's lackeys in the meantime are in a hell dimension's white room. A falcon-representative avatar wants to know if they can provide Koh's wanted information.
Commentary: I really like how W & H's Senior Partners are always being represented by something else and keeping with the animal motif, rather than just choosing something random, ties in nicely to the Black Panther that was always in the White Room in L.A.
Page 02: As W & H agree to research the information, they make it clear that Koh must not only kill Theo for them but also everyone who knows their vulnerability -- like, Buffy and Kennedy.
Buffy rips a weapon out of the wall and tells Koh that she's not letting him kill anyone. And that she'll help him find out who needs his payback without dealing with one of the biggest bads of the bad. Koh says that won't be possible if the last remaining link to the Hell dimensions they know of is severed.
Buffy isn't all that worried about that particular possibility.
Page 03: Theo orders Buffy (as her current employer) to leave him with Koh, even though she doesn't want to. He rightly states that someone needs to be out there who knows how to stop W & H's remaining foothold. Plus Koh is threatening to slay Theo immediately if she doesn't withdraw.
Buffy reluctantly agrees - but we know she isn't going far.
Page 04: Buffy makes her way back to the battle site between Koh, Kennedy and the Teuth demon. She wakes Kenn up and gets her up to speed. Kenn is a bit pissy about the demon that Buffy convinced her to include has now turned around and betrayed them.
Commentary: I'm a bit bummed by Koh's betrayal, because as mentioned in last issue's review, I really liked him as a character. But, I like his storyline and the fact that at the end of the day, he's still acting demonic with his own sense of right and wrong based on his own sense of honor, rather than Buffy's.
I'm still hoping we'll see this situation resolved in such a way that he can remain a side player....
Page 05: Kenn next turns attention to why Buffy left Theo behind, which Buffy explains. Kennedy again gets pissed, accusing Buffy of always putting saving the world over protecting the little guy. She reminds Buffy that this was the exact problem with her destroying the Seed recklessly (in her opinion).
Buffy accuses Kennedy of not letting the Willow-breakup issue go - but Kennedy denies she's talking about the fallout with her ex.
She tells Buffy that she's talking about how she sacrificed Giles.
Page 06: This (awesomely) earns Kennedy a power-right cross. Buffy tells Kennedy she's not letting anyone die AND they're going to shut down Tin Can at the same time.
Kennedy's on board with saving Theo -- the rest is up to Buffy, with the implication that she's just been fired.
Kenn then points out that W & H has the building wired, which means Koh is going to know they're on their way.
Commentary: So, about Kennedy. I actually relatively like Kenn in the comics, but that Giles-comment... OH,BOY.
It was very satisfying to see Buffy punch her out. And, with her obviously just as grudge-y about the Seed after all, I'm thinking it'll be a good thing for her to return to being an occasional character. Which... is kinda bugging me. This feels like we're getting stuck in the S6/S7 bit where Buffy gets cut off from everyone (albeit, this time because of everyone else and not herself) and returns to being lone Slayer with no real support.
I do not like this. Even if we can't have the Scooby Gang as we've known them because of reasons, I really like it when Buffy has a small team of trusted allies. I think she's generally written better when she has characters she can snark with.
Page 07: Buffy suggests using the remains of all of those Teuth demon tentacles to find a way to crawl into the server farm from where their movements can't be tracked.
Koh is informed of this, but when he asks, Theo says there isn't any way they could get through via the underground due to feet of concrete enclosing the server room. It was his idea to make TinCan, Inc.'s farm protected.
Commentary: No. This in no way justifies not having a backup server farm elsewhere as basic DR planning.
Page 08: Theo tries to bond with Koh by asking about his imprisonment, but he's clobbered away. Koh warns him against attempting to forge a relationship between them. Theo offers he just thinks he deserves to know why he has to die.
Page 09: In the bowels of the building, Kenn and Buffy find where the Teuth entered the building from deep underground.
Buffy broaches whether she's fired, and Kenn offers that it depends on whether Theo is saved or not.
They crawl up a tentacle that the Teuth was able to breach the concrete enclosure with.
Page 10: In the server farm, W & H tells Koh that they know who has imprisoned him and that the perpretrator is still on Earth. There is some back and forthing of terms, but Koh gets his way that the information is to be shared with him, before he'll kill Theo Daniels.
Page 11: As the message is downloading from Hell Dimension, Kennedy distracts Koh allowing Buffy to kick him in the face.
Page 12: Buffy tells the knocked-on-his-ass Koh that they're not killing Theo. Kennedy tries to get Theo out, but he won't leave until he's set the server farm on self-destruct.
W & H pleads with Koh to kill the Slayers and Theo now.
Page 13: While Kenn argues that she can't keep Theo safe down there, he insists he has to destroy the 'farm'.
Meanwhile, Koh summons his energy blades and starts hand to hand with Buffy.
Page 14: The servers' cooling system is shut down, starting the overheat process.
Meanwhile, Buffy has been battered to the ground, and Koh tells her she won't stand in his way. She insists she would've helped him.
Page 15: They wrestle on the floor, but Buffy gets sliced with the energy weapon across the forehead. She yells to Kennedy that she's down.
Commentary: The artwork throughout this sequence is especially strong. It won't affect scoring, but I'm issuing a kudo to Georges, Nathan and Michelle.
Page 16: In the server room, Kenn insists they go. Theo doesn't want to because he's afraid that the process can still be reversed and the connection saved. Kenn rips out the cooling unit handle; She insists on pushing him out while holding a gun backward on Koh.
Page 17: Kennedy finds Buffy on the floor, where she's gushing blood from her head slice. Buffy insists they go on without her, while she stays behind to stop W & H from winning. She also wants to make up for bringing the traitor on board the mission.
Meanwhile, Koh is punching at the computer in frustration, insisting W & H give up their information.
Page 18: Buffy interrupts his fit, as W & H yell down the line for him to stop the disruption.
The connection fitzes out before the information can be retrieved.
Page 19: Buffy tells Koh that whatever happened was a long time ago and he needs to let it go. She tries to tell him that his code of honor isn't worth all of the destruction he almost caused by not standing up to W & H, but he remains unconvinced and bitter. He flees down the same hole that she and Kenn used to get in via the Teuth tentacle.
Page 20: Outside, Buffy apologizes to Theo for his losing everything as TinCan, Inc burns and the Tin Can site goes offline. He doesn't seem that broken up about it.
Page 21: Much later, Buffy has been called into Kennedy's office. She expects to be fired, but Kenn tells her it's the opposite. Deepscan was made fully aware of the op by Kenn. In the meantime, Theo was telling all of his rich friends about how far she went to protect him. Deepscan has a bunch of requests for Buffy's hire to protect them.
Page 22: Buffy turns Kennedy down for the corporate paycheck world. Kenn offers an apology for the Giles crack, admitting it was out of line. She knows that Buffy had to make a tough call, and that is exactly the sort of person that Deepscan could use.
But, Buffy tells her that when she was younger she could think of the individual. Now, she was right: Buffy is all about the big picture. She can't put any individual above her greater responsibility.
She is the Slayer.
Commentary: I love that ending. But, Buffy -- you already earned that check, you idiot.
The Good: I really enjoyed how the Koh vs. Buffy fight was set up and I like that the character can still make a return visit, with the way things were left.
And though I didn't appreciate Kennedy's throwing Giles' death in Buffy's face, I did like their interactions throughout the issue.
The Bad: Not a thing.
Other Thoughts: I like the mystery of Koh's past, but I don't want to see it dragged out for too long. Especially, if he's not going to be a constant character. My first thought was that it'd be cool if Illyria was the one who imprisoned him, as a way to again connect Angel & Buffy's common 'verse. But, we'll have to wait to see what is done with the whole thing.
The Score: I really found myself enjoying this issue and think the arc ended on a high note.
3.75 out of 5 stars.
Next Review: Spike: A Dark Place, #2