The issue starts out predictably enough – Buffy’s ingrained and totally understandable bias against the hulking, green and scaly distracts her from the real and fairly banal threat during a training exercise. This month’s “Buffy needs to learn how to live in a world without magic” message comes from Kennedy herself, as she delivers an important if heavy-handed point: the freedom and financial ability to build the life that Buffy insists she wants comes through these pedestrian threats, not demons.
But, there’s a twist – there’s always a twist. This time, it’s the input of Spike’s “underworld bromance” partner, Eldre Koh, who questions the morality of making money off of being the only supernatural power left in the world. Buffy’s torn, as she seems to always be – she wants to step away from slaying and find stability in her life, but still can’t turn away from slaying completely.
Decisions are made a bit smoother when, during an after-hours sneak patrol, she sees that the Xander-trained police department is aware of and able to handle the feral Zompire population. Questions that just seemed so important – can the world survive without Buffy-as-slayer? Is there a life for Buffy that doesn’t involve a grand destiny? Can she figure out what that life is if it’s not predetermined? – get a bit less pressing when Buffy realizes that she might – finally – be able to take a night off.
Up to this point, this is another issue of Buffy-focused pressure, who she is in a Seed-free world and what that world needs of her. Now that she’s back in a single, human body, the question of who she is in this new world becomes a bit more tangible, a bit more pressing. The decisions that she makes and the directions that she takes all play into Buffy’s idea of who she is and what her life is for – a conflicting point of view as her destiny clashes with her desire. The issue raises interesting questions on morality and destiny and all of the Big Issues that swirl about Buffy.
And then, because an issue of existential angst isn’t quite wonderful enough, comes the last few pages of this issue. Buffy, comforted by the ability of the SFPD to cover for her, returns to Kennedy in time for her first mission – protect Internet mogul Theo Daniels. Daniels wants protection from slayers because he’s worried about demony threats – namely, an organization from a hell dimension out to get him. Not just any hell dimension organization, either.
Wolfram and Hart.
It was at that moment that I squealed in a hopefully understandable way. As much as I enjoy watching Buffy get put through the wringer – emotional or otherwise – I started craving something a bit bigger throughout this issue. These last three words delivered on that, and in spades. With Angel & Faith headed stateside in their Issue 11 and with Wolfram and Hart mentioned here – the possibilities are endless and surely fantastic. Just when Buffy has resolved some of her many emotional issues and has set herself on a fairly stable path in life, in comes the one person that can send her spinning more than anyone else: Angel.
As good as Buffy Season 9 has been, I am downright geeked to see where it goes from here.