Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 9, Issue 12
"Guarded, Part II"
Script: Andrew Chambliss, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Nathan Massengill, Colors: Michelle Madsen,
Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (Comicraft), 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.
Page 01: We open with a page of chat messages directed at the founder of an internet site called Tin Can. Our chats are trying to reach Tin Can founder, Theo Daniels. One of our chatters is very obviously demonic in nature.
Commentary: And from last issue, we know that Theo is on the run because he's run afoul somehow of W & H. Since W & H is already on the ropes (as seen in "After The Fall/Aftermath" in Angel and Spike's adventure in Las Vegas), it is obviously dangerous to be on their bad side even more than before... they're desperate to protect what they've still got.
Page 02: It turns out that our demonic chatter was actually sending messages to another demonic chat buddy, discussing that someone (presumably Theo at this point) needs to be killed in order to protect an investment.
Meanwhile, in a sport car Buffy is asking Theo if Wolfram & Hart knows that he's tapped into their messaging.
Page 03: Buffy and Kenn discuss W & H's predicament, as far as they know it. They're under the impression that the Senior Partners are dimension hopping, and with the Seed's demise, that means they can't touch anyone in this realm.
Theo shouldn't be able to be threatened by them. But Theo reveals that Tin Can is operating from the Hell Dimensions.
Commentary: To which I say, "Then you're a douchebag. Why shouldn't you be left to pay the price for your Hellish involvement?"
Page 04: Theo pulls up a group of different demon-chatter profiles as examples of what he means.
(Nice touch - including a member of S8's 'Vampy Cat' swarm and a Thrisewise chatter.)
Theo tells them that the site's connection is through demon tech and not magic, which is why it's able to still be operating, despite Earth's disconnection from magical portals. Even he's not exactly clear on the principles operating within his own programming.
Page 05: Buffy's only concern is disrupting this last way for the demonic to have influence (especially W & H influence) into the real world.
Theo says they need to destroy all of the servers that are running TinCan software. Which is why he's being targeted.
Page 06: Kenn tells Buffy that her company, Deepscan, can't be a part of this. But she's not abandoning the mission, only taking it off the books as a rogue operation with everything going through her.
Theo tells them that everything that needs to be destroyed is deep under the TinCan HQ.
Page 07: Meanwhile, presumably at Tin Can, a security guard gets confronted by a tentacled thingie -- the assassin now tracking down Theo.
Page 08: Buffy and Kennedy are already scanning the HQ though, and see the guard knocked out by a Teuth demon (which is an obvious play on Architeuthis -- the Giant Squid). Buffy says they need help, but shoots down bringing in a bunch of ex-Slayers from Deepscan, as Kenn has carefully drilled the Slayer-instinct from them.
Kenn wonders who she intends to call in then, but tells her she doesn't want to hear "Spike".
Buffy tells her they need another demon on their side....
Page 09: That demon is Koh, who is living on Alcatraz.
Page 10: Koh is less than cooperative to give his help at first, until Buffy reminds him that he owes her an honor debt, which she is calling in.
Commentary: I like Koh as a character and I'm hoping we'll see him integrated into Buffy's support team - especially with Xan, Dawn and Willow all taking a sabbatical.
Just throwing that out there for Andrew Chambliss.
Page 11: As the foursome of Koh, Buffy, Kenn and Theo ready to invade Tin Can HQ, Kennedy offers that she's not completely sure about Theo destroying the servers.
Page 12: Kenn brings up that it's their first connection they've found to somewhere other than Earth since the Seed business. But Buffy guesses that the real issue is that Kennedy is thinking about Willow and this as her magic connection.
Kennedy offers that returning magic could get people off of Buffy's ass.
Commentary: Willow will turn out not needing the digital demon tech assist. She's taking care of things on her own over in Angel & Faith and through her own limited series.
Page 13: Koh interrupts this to tell them that the Teuth strikes on many fronts, what with all of those tentacles.
Kennedy divides up assignments with Koh joining her as distraction while Theo and Buffy make their way to the servers where Theo can wipe out the dimensional connection.
Page 14: In the lobby, Koh and Kennedy engage the Teuth, while Buffy and Theo are in the duct work and following cable.
Page 15: Kenn gets grabbed and squeezed, but she's able to tell Buffy over their radio that the Teuth has them on CCTV.
Buffy reports back that she knows. The attacking Teuth tentacle was a good clue.
Page 16: The battle in the cramped confines of the duct doesn't work out so well for Team GoodGuy, with Buffy and Theo being restrained easily.
In the lobby, with more room, Kenn and Koh are able to hold their own, though not accomplishing very much by trying to tackle all of the tentacles coming at them.
Page 17: Team GoodGuy is warned they cannot win, and Theo shares that it's W & H on video chat from Bad Dimension.
With them tied into the HQ's security system without Theo's prior knowledge, the strike force attempt seemed doomed before it began.
Page 18: Koh and Kenn head toward Buffy's location, with Koh stating they need to find the root of the demon to stop it.
Meanwhile, Theo and Buffy are really hosed.
Page 19: Koh and Kenn are able to make it to the demon's main body, but with all the tentacles, they're both snatched up before they can get close for melee damage on it.
W & H continues to demand that they cannot win this, and that they won't lose their remaining foothold on Earth's dimension.
Kennedy has other ideas, and came prepared. She replaces the gun she was using with a grenade toss.
Commentary: It's interesting that Buffy's "no gun" rule has been largely ignored as quickly as the Slayer Organization disbanded. It isn't only Simone who thought it was bad policy, evidently.
Which, I gotta agree with. It seems to me there are way too many instances where a gun is the most logical and effective weapon to cling to "guns never helpful" attitudes. Especially if the Buffy comics went the SPN route and gave the Slayers cold-iron bullets with some mystic carvings on the shells as appropriate. Buckshot for a shotgun with pellets of silver would also be a good thing to have in their arsenal.
Page 20: The grenade does its job. Theo leads Buffy to the cooling unit for the servers, but expresses deep ambivalence about destroying something that he'd built to change the world for the better. Buffy knows about trying to change the world, only for it to not go exactly to plan.
Commentary: Okay, I have to just say this. "OFF-SITE BACKUP": It's an integral part of Disaster Recovery. I find it very difficult to buy that the entire digital connection to wherever is only in this building with these servers. Surely, TinCan, Inc. has set up a secured satellite site elsewhere should a disaster take out the servers at HQ?
Also, Tin Can can still operate just fine as a social networking site. The only thing that Theo would potentially lose is the extradimensional aspect of that communication. I'm finding it hard to sympathize with his angst, here.
Page 21: Buffy is more sympathetic than I. But she's also aware that W & H cannot be allowed to maintain a bridge to our world. Theo knows this, too.
But just before he is able to pull the 'turn off cooling unit, burn up server' switch, they're interrupted by an off-panel voice telling them to hold on a minute.
Page 22: This turns out to be Koh. We don't know what he did to Kennedy, but he's made his way to the server room to stop the mission.
He deals with W & H -- information on who ordered his imprisonment so long ago, in exchange for his killing Theo and saving the servers.
Buffy rightly complains about Koh's Nitobe Code, but he explains to her that she misunderstands the Code. To preserve Honor, Koh must have vengeance, and to get that vengeance he must have the information that W & H can share.
(I'm assuming that his primary Honor obligation overrides his debt to Buffy, especially since it could be argued that he's honored that by getting them this far.)
Commentary: But, again, actually Theo wouldn't even be necessary at this point. Buffy could, right here, power-kick both of them away from the switch and pull it before Koh could react. Mission completed... (if we're assuming that the off-site Disaster Recovery wasn't set up).
The story really should end right here, one way or the other, with the next issue dealing with a Koh vs. Buffy fight. But, it appears that simple logic won't be applicable for this situation....
The Good: I like the Buffy/Kennedy team up dynamic more than I thought I would.
I like Koh, and I like this cliffhanger ending with the caveat in the commentary.
The Bad: Nothing really bad.
Other Thoughts: Well, see the commentary for the problems I have with this storyline. I don't think that the staff is really trying to understand the way networking/server hosting actually works.
The Score: Eh. Except for the obvious ways I can see that would stop any attempts to actually sever Tin Can, this was a fun-ish read, if not exactly riveting.
3.25 outta 5 stars.
Next Review: BTVS, S9 I13