BTVS, Season 9, Issue 17
"Welcome to the Team" Part II
Script: Andrew Chambliss, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Dexter Vines, Colors: Michelle Madsen,
Letters: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft's) Jimmy Betancourt, Cover: Phil Noto
Blurb: In the midst of trying to have a normal life - for a Slayer - Buffy was mystically pulled away from a zompire battle by the demon Illyria. Buffy changed the world when she cut off its connection to other realms and magic - so, according to Illyria and a mystical council, Buffy has a big mess to clean up...
The other Scoobies? Willow is absent. Spike is absent. And something is going on with Xander and Dawn...
Page 01: We open with Billy the monster hunter in training (I am refusing to call him any type of slayer) reflecting on the dire situation he finds himself in with Detective Robert Dowling.
The two were with Buffy busting up a zompire nest featuring a new type of superzomp, when Buffy was yanked away mid battle.
Now Billy is being outnumbered, and Dowling is having his throat torn by a zompire.
Commentary: I may be cool toward Billy and only lukewarm toward Dowling, but I do appreciate the attempt to introduce a stable of new characters into Buffy's life. I'm not ready to write these two off yet, but I like this opening.
The closeup panel of Dowling's eyes rolling up into his head is especially effective, giving the page a throwback EC-comics feel to it, that I dig.
Page 02: Despite Billy's monologue to himself that he needs to dig deep and find his inner "slayer" to save Robert, he's quickly overpowered by the nest. Things already look bad for Dowling, but now they look very poor for Billy as well.
Until a zompire gets dusted in front of him.
Page 03: His savior is none other than the special task force that Dowling is heading up of the SFPD, formed specifically to address the zompire rampage in SF.
The patrolmen clear out the nest, but it's up in the air whether it comes too late for Robert. His last words are a whispered plea to Billy to find Buffy.
Page 04: Meanwhile, Buffy is meeting Illyria. She knows the demon's basics from Angel and Spike, who Illyria describes as half-breeds. She's brought Buffy to discuss the fate of the world.
Page 05: With her are an ad hoc council of mystical beings, including D'Hoffryn. One of the beings looks like the woody-leaf haired being that helped Willow escape her suffering while Warren was busy trying to lobotomize her (S8, I4).
We also have a multi-eyed anteater-nosed bulky fellow, a wizard complete with staff, a little girl holding a red, sentient balloon, a red haired woman who reminds me of Dark Pheonix in Jean Grey mode, and a green Buddha.
Commentary: I briefly considered going through every issue to see if these guys are reuses like D. and the woody guy, but that just seemed like way too much work for too little gain. If anyone recognizes the others, feel free to point it out in the comments.
Page 06: Buffy accuses D'Hoffryn of dastardly intent, but he replies that their private feud has no place in the current meeting. Woody explains that all mystical beings with any powers left must band together at the moment, including the Slayer.
Commentary: It's kind of neat that they brought D'Hoffryn in for these circumstances, and I did get a bit of a smile on my face when seeing him. It's always nice when characters that we know from the show return to the comic pages, so I'm approving.
The little girl is familiar, but I can't place where. Was this a guise of the W & H conduit, or something?
Page 07: Buffy rants about being sick of everyone whining about their loss of mystical powers, but Sentient Balloon tells her that they didn't bring her there (wherever 'there' is) to blame her, but to help her fix things. They point out that they've been in a battle trying to clean up one of her unfinished businesses and are now threatened.
Wizard shows her a face in the air: Severin.
Page 08: Meanwhile, back on Earth - Xander and Dawn are having a sleepless night because of Dawn's continued hacking and coughing. The unnamed-but-clearly Nyquil having no effect on her symptoms. Xan blows up and knocks the bottle out of her hands, breaking it on the floor.
Just another sign that something deeply wrong is going on with Xander and his anger-management skills (which I'm not liking at all -- I'm worried about the writers turning Xan into his father, ruining his character for me).
Meanwhile, Dawn stays surprisingly calm about it all.
Commentary: I really dislike the subtext on this page. Xander striking out at her, her accepting this behavior -- I am really going to be pissed off if this is leading where it's hinting: abusive Xan and victimized, accepting Dawn.
I'm assuming right now that this is all tied to Dawn's resistent flu and the whole "she's a mystical being in a world where magic is waning and not be renewed" thing, but I don't like the way they're using Xander.
Page 09: Xander just relocates himself to the sofa, when his cell phone rings. He outrages "WHAT?!" as greeting, only to get the news about Dowling being bitten and in serious injury.
Page 10: Sometime shortly afterward, Dowling is rushed into surgery. Xan and Dawn arrive at the hospital to find the upset Billy waiting for news. Xander turns his anger next on Billy when he learns that Buffy disappeared.
Billy promises he'll find Buffy, while Dawn is shocked at Xan's manhandling the young monster hunter.
Page 11: Billy goes off to start investigating Buffy's disappearance, leaving Xan to wait for the results of Robert's rush to surgery. Dawn stays with Xan, because she points out he's been picking fights for no reason with everyone around him lately.
Xan puts it down to being so used to living life in the high adrenaline lane and now having trouble not thinking that they're holding on by their fingernails every second.
Page 12: Dawn suggests to Xan that maybe he misses the life, or that he feels guilty that Dowling is the one in deadly danger, instead of them. Xan assures her that he thinks they've earned their break. He pulls out his phone to start round robining every one they know who may be able to give them a line on what happened to Buffy during the battle.
Page 13: With the mystic council, a burnt-out matchstick person tells Buffy that Severin picked her up for some sexual shenanigans, but turned on her and drained her powers. She blacked out and when she awoke, her mystic flames were gone. Illyria can relate to her pain at being less than she was.
Page 14: Buffy tells Illyria that she heard that her time as "more human" made her better, but Illyria blows this off as half-lies told by the half-breeds.
[I didn't read Illyria's limited series appearances... did things go bad with her and the AI crew, especially Spike and Angel after IDW's Angel series?? If you can explain this 'half-breed' talk, please comment and fill me in.]
The council tells Buffy that The Siphon's power is growing unchecked. Buffy admits that she thinks Sev may be in league with Simone, the rogue Slayer and the council asks her to help them with stopping The Siphon once and for all.
Page 15: Buffy joins them, putting aside her demon-snuffing for demon-partnering until Severin is stopped.
Meanwhile, Billy is on the phone with Devon complaining how he messed up and Robert got really hurt. Devon assures him that he's doing good work. Billy next complains that he doesn't even know where to start to look for Buffy.
Page 16: Devon suggests taking a page from the Hardy Boys when they were stuck on a case. Billy erupts in outrage at his talking about YA literature at a time like this, but then he admits that the Boys would've revisited the site where they got stuck on a case for clues they missed the first time around.
With the dawn rising, Billy rushes out past Anaheed on the sofa. She asks where he is off to so early and in such a rush. He answers about going off to find the missing Buffy, which naturally comes as news to Ana who had no idea of the previous night's activities.
Page 17: Meanwhile, in Elseplace, Illyria reports to Buffy that she's unable to warp time/space around Sev as he's gotten too powerful for her to shortcut him to them for the fight. She also tells Buffy she'll act as her teammate for the battle, along with someone else who has experience fighting him at Buffy's side.
Buffy worries about the tenseness that may result from having to work with Spike, again.
Page 18: She need not have worried. It isn't Spike that Illyria has recruited, but Koh... which is just as awkward, actually, but for different reasons.
Buffy expresses disdain for working with Koh, and he isn't pleased either but Illyria leaves them to work it out as to how they'll work together, or Severin will end up winning.
Page 19: At the hospital, Dowling survives surgery and his prospects look good. But, meanwhile, Dawn's condition looks even worse than before.
Page 20: While the surgeon is updating Xander on Dowling's current condition, Dawn starts trying to get Xan's attention. When he happens to turn to celebrate the good news about Robert, he finds her falling to the floor.
Surgeon Guy then tells Xander that Dawn isn't breathing!
Page 21: Elsewhere, Buffy, Illyria and Koh launch a surprise assault on Severin's penthouse.
Page 22: It turns out, though, that they've ended up in a trap... apparently one set up by the drained Matchstick Person on Sev's behalf... and it looks like he's just drained the rest of the traitor's energy for her unwise partnership....
The Good: Seeing the SFPD competently taking on the zompire nest was cool.
I like Illyria's guest starring, D'Hoffryn's teaming up with Buffy, and the return of a Koh partnership - however brief it may end up being.
The Bad: Nothing, really.
Other Thoughts: I think that they're going to avoid the abusive!Xander idea by making it a part of whatever is going on with Dawn Summers, so I'm cautiously optimistic they're not about to destroy my favorite S8 character. We'll see what they got going on.
I'd like to see Koh as a remaining presence in Buffy's new Scooby stable, as he's a new character I'm actually interested in getting to know.
I love the SMG and AA likenesses on the cover. I miss Jo Chen, but Phil did excellent work here.
The Score: I'm liking the return of Sev as the big bad, too and hopefully we're going to see the end of Simone as well. The story has three different threads going on, and I think that all of them were handled appropriately, as far as the number of pages dedicated to following each. This is a solid issue.
3.25 out of 5 stars.
Next Up: BTVS, Season 9, Issue 18