BTVS, Season 9, Issue 18
"Welcome to the Team", part III
Script: Andrew Chambliss, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Dexter Vines, Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (Comicraft), 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 the other realms and magic; and, according to Illyria and a mystical council, Buffy has a big mess to clean up - starting with the Siphon - before changes in the world begin to affect her personal life.
Page 01: We open seconds after Buffy, Illyria and Koh discover that they've broken into a carefully laid trap by Severin, The Siphon.
Buffy tells Sev to drop the matchstick demon, which was a previous victim of his. The matchstick demon apparently had betrayed the mystical council in order to have its powers returned, but Sev don't play fairly like that. He's now in the middle of draining the life from it.
Illyria snots that he's not worthy of the power that he's stolen, and he sniggers back: "Really? Did "The Council" take a vote on that?"
Page 02: Buffy offers to let her sword answer the question, which gets her and her companions a powerblast to the face.
With everyone scattered across the room, Sev expresses his disappointment in 'an old one', and tells Illyria to make way for something new.
Page 03: As Buffy, Illyria and Koh are getting their asses handed to them, in San Francisco Dawn has been rushed to the ICU. She's unconscious and the doctor reports that her vital signs are falling with no obvious reason.
Xan brings up the possibility of a brain aneurysm, but this is shot down. It's also not viral or bacteriological.
Commentary: I really like that Xan thinks of Joyce in this moment and brings up her death... though really, Joyce's fatal aneurysm was caused by a brain tumor and the surgery so close to the artery. The aneurysm was more of a side effect in her case. But still, the shout out was nicely handled.
Oh, this also confirms that Dawn's problem isn't the flu, which leads back to her mystical origins in a world cut off from magic. I like this development, because it seemed like there should've been some sort of impact on Dawn by now. It's coming a little late, but at least we're dealing with it, finally.
On the other hand, I could've been satisfied if nothing untoward happened to her because her energy was tied to Earth itself; what I really wanted was for the subject to come up and be explained. But, this works, too -- except for once again Dawn being used as the McGuffin everyone has to save... once again, she's kidnapped - this time by a coma.
Page 04: Xander sits by Dawn's bedside, his chin on her mattress. He tells her that he never regretted leaving Buffy's side, because he justified taking a back seat in the monster fighting to her being okay away from all of the danger. He's now bereft that she's not being okay.
He makes a phone call to someone who we don't see to meet him at the hospital about Dawn.
Page 05: Over with Sev, he's knocked out our three heroes in one blast. As he closes in to drain Illyria, Buffy wakes up enough to call over to her. She grabs Sev's wrist and tells him he won't be stealing her powers.
Page 06: Illyria does a vanishing act, enraging him. He turns on Buffy for her interference. He then promises to drain both Buffy and Koh dry.
Page 07: Sev power blasts them again, and while Koh is down, he grabs Buffy by the throat. He warns her that he's not just collecting power for the light show, but because he needs to save "her" and he won't be stopped.
Page 08: Suddenly, Severin yells out in pain. It turns out that Koh recovered and razored him in the back. Buffy recognizes that Sev's about to lose control of his energy blast, but fortunately for the two of them, Illyria has recovered enough to snatch them away just before he blasts apart his condo apartment.
Koh offers that he's only slowed Sev down, not stopped him. But Buffy is more concerned at the moment with getting back to the ad hoc council to share her information about Sev's motives.
Page 09: Meanwhile, we skip over to Billy, who has returned to the warehouse where Buffy did her disappearing act while he and Dowling were being overwhelmed by a zompire nest.
He narrates into a recorder on any observations he may make, when he's unexpectedly joined by Anaheed.
Page 10: Billy turns on Ana for endangering herself by hanging around a nest site. She wants to help, but Billy tells her that jumping on the Slayer bandwagon won't work out for her. She's not a Slayer, and neither is he.
Page 11: Billy brats Anaheed into leaving him to his "investigating", although what trace he believes he can find remains to be explained.
Back at the Council, Buffy has shared her belief that Severin is targeting Illyria specifically. She offers it is because of the three of them, she is the most powerful. But Buffy intuits that Sev's motive is to steal Illyria's time-skip ability and travel backward to before he killed his girlfriend in order to save her.
Page 12: Buffy explains about Sev and his girlfriend wanting to become vampires and how she became a zompire instead with Sev accidentally killing her by draining her power when she turned on him. He wants to go back and stop her from getting bitten in the first place.
Illyria offers that her control over space/time warping has limits and he'd need vast sums of energy to so precisely control his travel. Buffy points out he's been on an energy stealing kick for weeks.
The council agrees that his changing the timeline would damage Earth even further than being cut off from the other dimensions has already been and conclude that Sev, despite his pain, must be stopped.
Page 13: And, where I had thought that Buffy had been whisked off to some plane before (which I guess wouldn't have made sense, now would it), the council has actually set up shop in a planetarium.
A place that Severin has tracked them to.
Illyria offers the beginnings of a plan.
Page 14: We skip over to the hospital, where we find out that Xander's call was to Andrew Wells.
Andy can only repeat what the doctor has said -- he can't tell what is going on with Dawn, no matter what mystic talismans he tries. He begins to unhook Dawn's monitors to Xander's confusion and frustration.
Page 15: Andy tells Xan that they need to perform a mind transfer on Dawn to a robot, the way he had done to Buffy in order to save her before her body fails completely. It's something that Xander isn't wild about, but the options are limited to none.
He brings up how they're supposed to get Dawn out of the building, and Wells references Kirk and McCoy breaking Chekov out of the hospital in ST: The Voyage Home.
Trying to slip her past the floor nurse works about as well as expected. It also doesn't seem wise for Andrew to claim "Tarellian plague" as an excuse.
Page 16: Xander and Andy make it to the elevator and to the ambulance bay in their caper. Xan asks what they're supposed to do now, but Andrew is a bit nonplussed, as there isn't a convenient transporter effect to whisk them away. Xan asks why he's listened to Andy, which is a question we all might ask, but Andrew promises not to screw up something this important.
Commentary: Okay, that was semi-humorous and not as painful as I feared when I saw Andrew in the room. The ST reference was very in character for Andy and Xan's exasperation over it was amusing.
I'm not sure I buy that they'd actually escape, but okay....
Page 17: Meanwhile, Billy is still at the warehouse in the security guard's office reviewing the video of their zompire fight where Buffy took her sudden powder. It doesn't offer any clues that explains how she was there one moment and gone the next.
Further deliberation is interrupted by the zompire escapees returning to the site of their nest. He's confronted by a ravening mob of zomps, alone... which goes about as well as you might think.
Page 18: Just as it looks like Billy's monster hunting career is about to be tragically short, zompires begin bursting into ash.
His bacon is saved by the re-arrival of Anaheed... and what's more, she reveals that she's been a Slayer this entire time, explaining her patience with the Buffy-craziness taking place around her apartment.
But explanations for her deal are going to have to wait until they're not about to be killed.
Page 19: At the planetarium, the mystic try to hold off Sev's breaking and entering until Illyria is ready. Her plan is to confront Sev and let him begin to drain her. With him being so preoccupied, Buffy and Koh can hopefully take him unawares and slay him, finally.
Buffy promises to get to him before Illyria loses her powers, but she states that she doesn't fear being diminished -- she's already faced that and knows it is something she can tolerate.
Page 20: Illyria teleports out behind Severin and goes on the offensive, but he's too juiced to be taken down by her. She tries to warn him that he can't handle her power, but naturally he's not in the mood to be educated on her awesomeness.
Page 21: As Severin gets a good grab on Illyria and begins her draining, she reaches out to pull Koh and Buffy to her side so they can slice and dice him.
Page 22: Alas for Illyria, Severin was able to re-route the portal transporting Buffy and Koh to Mann's Chinese Theater in L.A.
This leaves Illyria in a very poor position....
The Good: I like the Buffy, Koh and Illyria team up and Severin's plot.
I'm also continuing to like the Dawn arc and the mystery of what exactly is happening to her and what they're going to do about it.
The Bad: Nothing irritates.
Other Thoughts: So, Anaheed is a Slayer... obvs, one who has either been undercover, or is a reluctant warrior. We'll have to wait and see how that shakes out.
I'm still wondering why Billy was accepted as a monster slaying recruit by Buffy. I get Dowling's indoctrination into zompire-slayage, but the Billy thing is still striking me as not well set up and is distracting. I'd rather Koh stay around as a Buffy partner.
The Score: Again, we have a solid issue advancing the plot, but nothing really stand-out. It's a good issue, but I want to spend more time with the Scooby Gang acting like the Scooby Gang, really... Or to get some really compelling replacement members. Right now, Billy, Robert and presumably Anaheed aren't doing the trick for me.
3.50 out of 5 stars
Next Review: The conclusion of "Welcome to the Team" in BTVS, S9, I19