Review, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #19 (Welcome to the Team, part 4)

12 03 2013

Main CoverScript: Andrew Chambliss
Pencils: Georges Jeanty
Ink: Dexter Vines

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 and a mystical council who are set on making Buffy clean up the magicless mess she created – starting with the Siphon. So far, fighting him alongside Koh and Illyria has resulted in the loss of Illyria’s powers. Meanwhile, in San Francisco and unknown to Buffy, Dawn’s illness has put her into a coma….

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First of all, be prepared, the review will be full of spoilers. So if you don’t want to be spoiled, wait until tomorrow and then read my review. Last warning!

And second, it has been really a long time since I enjoyed reading a Buffy issue. I think the last issue that I liked was this season’s #5. After that, the chaos. Since I usually lurk and read fan forums and theories, and since I discuss in private with some friends who also follow the comics, some of them online friends I’ve made thanks to the Buffyverse, I will be honest. I wasn’t surprised by almost nothing in this issue. We’ve had it coming, some of them ever since season 8. But at least and finally, it was an issue worth reading. And especially worth paying for.

But let’s get to the point. Illyria lost her powers, Severin stole them. She’s not dead, much to her surprise. That body was just a vessel for her but she is still alive though. The useless council of course run off and left Buffy, Koh and Illyria to clean up the mess. In the meantime, Andrew’s plan to transfer Dawn’s essence into the Buffybot is not working. When Illyria sees Dawn, she realizes that what’s on the monitor is not brain waves, but mystical energy. And now that the seed is broken, the magic what was used to make Dawn human is fading away. In a few words, Buffy is the reason that Dawn is dying. And yes, Xander is there to blame her. Not for breaking the seed, but for everything that had happened before that. And not only for the spacefrak, but for everything that they’ve been through all those years. Somehow, each time that Buffy saves the world, the world gets to be worse than it was before.

Somewhere else in the city, Anaheed and Billy are working together. We learn that Anaheed is actually a slayer and secretly she was protecting Buffy. She tells that to Billy and then they both try to figure out what happened to Buffy. While watching the footage, she realizes that she also knows that super strong zompire. She was an ex slayer that followed Simone. Dowling also confirms that Buffy recognized her, and in another part of the town, Simone is experimenting on another slayer. What she seems to want is to become a vampire that Buffy won’t be able to beat in battle. And Severin is there to help her, as long as she helps him gain even more power in order to be able to control the powers that he stole from Illyria.

So that was the issue. Like I said, not a lot of surprises. We have already guessed that the super strong zompire was a slayer that was turned. We’ve already known who that slayer was and that she was from Simone’s team. And I don’t think that there was a person out there who thought that Illyria was dead after the end of the previous issue. As for Dawn, we’ve been waiting for that to happen ever since Buffy broke the seed, in S08#39. Actually the only surprise in this issue was Anaheed, and that was ruined thanks to to preview pages. I really don’t know what they do and what they think sometimes over there at Dark Horse Comics. At least they have stopped giving away advanced copies to people who don’t follow the story, giving us summaries and spoiling everything 2 weeks in advance.

As for the art? To my huge surprise, it was good in this issue. After all the mess that Jeanty has drawn for issues 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, FINALLY he has drawn an issue that you don’t cry for the money you’ve spent to get it. Of course his Illyria still looks awful, reminding me of Dawn or even of Kennedy sometimes, now that she’s not all blue, and his Dawn is still a mess. But the rest was OK, and he also had some great panels. If the issues I’ve just mentioned looked like today’s issue, I wouldn’t have been complaining all those months. Still not the best art out there or the art that I prefer, since all of the characters look like children, but at least you look at the comic book and you don’t laugh at what you see.

So what’s to come up next? My worries lie with Spike. The editor has recently replied in the letter column to a fan, that he hopes we’ll like what they have planned for Spike this season. Nothing has happened to Spike in his mini story, nothing has happened in A&F’s #19 and I doubt that anything serious will happen in #20. So that means that there are still plans for Spike out there. First piece here.

Let’s put the pieces of the puzzle together. Severin can kill zompires. When he does, the body returns to the previous condition before getting sired, the demon is killed. No life in the body, just a dead human. That was the second piece.

Two weeks ago we learnt that Angel is a different being from Angelus. It’s the soul that makes the difference, confirmed by the presence of Giles’s soul inside Angel’s body, taking over at some points. Third piece here.

Illyria wonders why she’s not dead. According to her, that body was only a vessel and she shouldn’t be alive. What I guess? Fred’s soul. Illyria consumed Fred’s soul while she was taking over her body. So Fred’s soul which was consumed by Illyria probably helped her stay alive after facing Severin. And that is the forth and final piece.

OMG, they are going to turn Spike into a living human! He’ll face Severin again, Severin will kill the demon but the soul will keep Spike alive. And yes I am totally torn about that, and I don’t think I want it happen. He will be boring, dull, another Riley, another Xander, another Dowling. I have some hopes that maybe, what Simone is planning, to become a kind of a stronger than Buffy vampire is what will happen to Spike, but still, even that doesn’t get me excited. I can’t think more about it at this point, so I stop it.

So, like I said, it was a good issue and I enjoyed writing the review. Let’s hope that the rest of the season will continue like that, although we had most of it coming, like the PTSD story that I am sure is coming up in the following issue for Xander. And I really enjoyed having someone, finally, talk to Buffy and tell her some things about the mess she’s created. Good for Xander, finally, it was about time.
As for Buffy? I think she’s realized it, she cried at the end, but still she has a lot to do. Besides, she has to save her sister’s life and Xander will eventually need her help, even though he doesn’t want it right now.





21 responses

12 03 2013

Great review! Thank you, Gigi! I can’t wait to read the issue! 😉 And I liked your guesses about Spike’s fate… Actually these were my speculations before – if Severin kills his inner demon, his vampire, Spike wouldn’t turn into a dead corpse and he will survive because of his soul and will turn into a human. But I disagree with you that the human Spike will be boring and dull like Riley, Xander and Dowling. Hey, that’s Spike after all, whatever he turns! 😀

12 03 2013

I agree with Veiriti. Spike being human could be incredibly interesting for the character. Since I’m at work I won’t delve into it, but I will when I get back.

14 03 2013

I would like to stick to my word, even though it’s tomorrow after work not yesterday after work.

Why I think human Spike could be very interesting for the character is because I think that, depending on how it is written, this could very well be the next step in his evolution (to completion so to speak). I understand a lot of people love Spike being a vampire. They want him as a vampire for the allure, for the strength, for the complexities. And I think that there are very much a lot of interesting things about vampire Spike that are fun. But strictly speaking on a character level, I do not think a vampire Spike at this point has much more development that could be done that would continue his progression.

I think Jane Espenson that said that Spike ultimately wants to be strong and confident. And, of course, my own reading is that he wants to be loved. The thing I share with Joss is that I am also a humanist and see that being human can be a wonderful thing. And that Spike is a wonderful example of the human condition. I see Spike staying a vampire as him having false strength (though while, yes, he has real strength physically but that not what I mean) and continuing to run away from humanity. Spike sees humanity as mundane, as weak and boring. He said it in #1, Willow can’t protect Buffy because she no longer has magic. He views humanity as weakness that hinders one from really being strong and capable. But I strongly disagree with that.

Him being human and learning to be strong and confident without using his vampire status as a crutch I think is real strength. To be strong emotionally, mentally, and physically is more real than him being super powered.

As for being boring, I just don’t see it. Spike is never boring unless written very badly. He’s not fun and interesting because he can kick ass, it’s his personality that is always a pleasure. And more often than not, we see him get beat down unfortunately. A lot of his real usefulness has come from an emotional stand point. Even his sacrifice in Chosen wasn’t about being strong, but about the strength of his soul.

If you think this argument is moot because of Buffy having the metaphorically strength of slayers, I think Buffy being super powered isn’t really the core of her strength. Her strength lies with her heart. That she continues on even when all is dark, that she gets back up, that she loves and forgives. That is her strength, not the fact she can punch holes in evil demons.

So Spike becoming human forces him to develop that strength that has nothing to do with being physically capable of fighting, but learning that being human and surviving is one of the strongest things a person can do. He needs to be able to accept humanity, that isn’t not a weakness, but a strength.

And yes, I want him to seek humanity on his own. That it is his own choice and not that of someone else’s. I want being human to make him happy. And I think being human it would be easier for him to find the love that he is looking for and to receive in kind.

12 03 2013

Human Spike could be interesting for a couple of issues. Maybe he and Buffy will make a Spike-junior, thus bookending the theme of pregnancy, started in the first issues. Ans, as soon as his mission will be accomplished, Spike can turn back into a vampire. I’m sure writers will find a way 🙂

13 03 2013

Haha! Great minds think alike! I said that to Scott, the only difference is that I talked about a baby slayerette named Ann instead of a boy, and that I trust him to find a way to turn him afterwards into a soulful vampire again.

He replied I was only wrong about the baby’s name which will be Georgia!
I laughed when I read it, haha!

12 03 2013

Spike is incapable of being boring, ok I’m bias, but I’ll take him in any form and I think him going human is a real possibility one way or the other this season but this sounds like it increases the chances, we’ll see.

Can I just say how stupid Simone is being. As soon as she turns into a vamp Buffy will happily kill her, where as now she has the advantage, as a human with a gun. :s

13 03 2013

I don’t think that Simone wants just to kill Buffy. She’s had plenty of opportunities to do that. I think she wants to prove that she can be better than her, stronger than her, humiliate her in her own game. She knows that she can’t win in a battle against her but she’s obsessed to do that.

I am not saying that that is clever, but she’s a crazy woman, and crazy people have their own way of thinking.

14 03 2013

But that is false if she is having to ‘change’ herself, trying to become something ‘other’ in order to be better or stronger is just a way of admitting that she isn’t and could never genuinely ‘best’ Buffy. They may end up explaining it in a way that makes sense to me but at the moment it just seems dumb.

12 03 2013

I wouldn’t mind human-Spike, but I”d rather William the Bloody Vampire Slayer.

13 03 2013

I’ve just read the issue and I liked it a lot. I have to admit I almost lost my interest in Season 9 – Buffy is acting like a silly teenager, Angel is getting a whitewash, instead an atonement or a punishment, don’t mention and Spike’s bad characterization in Angel&Faith #19 (Sorry, Mr. Gage, but your characterization of Spike in the latest A&F issue was the second worse after Willingham’s characterization of Spike, imo! But yeah, Angel is the big hero and a champion and it doesn’t matter how many times he is trying to end the world, just like doesn’t matter how many times Spike will save the world, he would stay the same stupid brag in the eyes of some writers…:( )
Anyway, I’m so glad that Illyria survived the Severin’s touch. She is a human now, but she didn’t turn in Fred, which was really interesting. Turning into Fred or dying would be stupid – I love Illyria. And yeah, Gigi, I’m seeing your point about Spike turning into a human after another possible encounter with Severin and I bet he won’t turn into his William-self again! Human or not, he is Spike! 😀 😀
I’m also glad that Dawn’s mind hasn’t been transferred into the Buffy-bot, as I was speculating. I’d would love Dawney to survive, but not in that way. I hope that they will save her in the end – her mind in her own body.
The conversation between Buffy and Xander was the moment that I’ve really enjoyed. Gigi, you know, I don’t like Xander, he is one of my least favorite characters along with Riley and I’m always getting annoyed when he starts to criticizing Buffy’s private life. But this time I liked him and I think after that moment Xander a kind of growing to me! He was absolutely right about the spacefrakking, and about the destruction of the seed and indirectly causing the death of people very close to her – Giles and now Dawn, because of her “soft spot” to Angel.
And I also liked Xander’s love and devotion to Dawn – that’s not the same selfish git, who dumped Anya at the altar. Well, that doesn’t make me a Xander fan, but I’m starting to feel something close as a respect to him. 😀

13 03 2013

Thank you all guys for the comments here!
Just to get some things straight. I’ve seen that I got some people super excited about the issue, and they were kind of let down afterwards, like I read in fan forums. I’ve never said that this was the best issue out there. But after more than a year of let downs, today’s issue was a paradise in the middle of a vast desert. My expectations have run slow. Like I said, everything was predictable in this issue, but I enjoyed it because things happened, people talked, we had many fronts and everything marched ahead, Dowling woke up, Anaheed revealed herself, we learnt who the uber zompire was, what Simone has been doing, if Severin can control Illyria’s powers, why Dawn is in a coma, why she cant be transferred into a robot, Buffy found out about it, Xander confronted Buffy, and all of that in just 22 pages. So when I think back at the pointless pregnancy arc, then again 3 issues for getting back her body, another 3 to realize she’s a slayer in which W&H was used just for the surprise and last but not least 2 issues wasted for a character I don’t care if he gets stucked in a loophole damned to get bitten and die and turned for eternity, etc, today’s issue was an oasis!

As for Spike and my speculations, I was just having fun while writing those. I don’t know if they’ll go that way, but I am sure that there is a story coming up for Spike, mostly because there hasn’t been any yet. Or has there? Please tell me if there has and I haven’t noticed it.

13 03 2013

Hi Leyki! Even though I said you gave it an A+ grade that wasn’t really how I read you. It was just that you obviously liked this issue much more than the usual, and that had me come in expecting the good stuff (which was there), but as a result more aware of the stuff that wasn’t so good. It was late, so I wrote that the way I did, but I do get that you didn’t think it was the best thing ever! Sorry about the way that came out.

I love your speculation about Spike. I’ve been speculating that way for a long time. Of course, sometimes (many times!) I think I see signs of something to come and it turns out it never even crossed the writers’ minds. Still, it would fit with a lot of what they were doing. I think Spike becoming human should be part of his trajectory. How it comes about and how they play it is an open question. It could be done well; it could be done badly. And with these writers it’s probably safer to be prepared to be disappointed.

I’ve been enjoying your reviews even though not commenting. I usually avoid commenting at sites that require a ton of information, but a little bird told me I should probably let you know I’m reading along!

14 03 2013

I have no idea what info is required for posting here, mostly because I have never posted at someone else’s blog, wordpress blog I mean. I don’t even know if I made things more difficult while creating the blog, with the options available. I hope I didn’t!

About Spike…I am scared of that. And I’ll be honest, after what they did with Xander this season I don’t trust them to tell a story of a human Spike, unless it is Joss that writes the comic. And Paul the artist. Last available option Rebekah, no other option for a writer! Not that I don’t trust another writer, I just don’t trust them when they assure me that it is Whedon’s story, because I think that Whedon has left the building.
Not to mention that if something like that happens I want it to be his option, doing it for himself, not for Buffy or anyone else. Being happy with it. And especially not like it happened with Illyria, facing Severin and getting his demon stripped out of him. Even if that happens, I want him to feel relieved and excited for seeing the sun again after centuries (besides the spaceship, lol).

The problem is what happens next. If Spike is human, he will always be a secondary character, always linked to Buffy’s title or Angel’s, Faith’s etc, always serving their story. That is what scares me. So if they want to actually do something with Spike, making him human will not be a good option in the long run. That’s what I think.

14 03 2013

I never got to delve into why I think human Spike would be interesting for the character, but I wanted to at least say I don’t agree human Spike could not his own in his own series. Billy is human and slaying vamps and Billy might get his own series. I think, if writen well, a human Spike could be a leading man in his own series. But again, it has to be writen well. But also, I am of the opinion that Spike does well as a secondary/support character and wouldn’t mind him continuing to be so in the Buffy book as long he also moves on with feelings for Buffy (to the extend of a possibilty but moving on, etc).

I agree with you that I want Spike to want it for himself and to be happy with it. I am scared they’ll write this as something of a punishment for Buffy where he becomes human, hates it and it brings a huge rift between them.

14 03 2013
‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9 #19′ Review: Losing and Regaining the Magic » Whedonopolis

[…] for Buffy: Season 9. The book did receive a poor review from CBR but still got good reviews from Light_Watcher and Unleash the […]

14 03 2013
Kiki May

Hi! I loved your review and I’m really, REALLY hoping that they make Spike human. It would be so incredibly interesting not only for the character – to add other shades of complexity on him – but it would be a tale of what means being human and Spike is already the protagonist of another epic tale of redemption and change. Also human!Spike and Buffy’s interactions: PLEASE GIVE ME.

14 03 2013

I like Spike as a vamp but going human does make sense for him I have to agree. I don’t have too much of a problem if it is shown to happen without it being a ‘choice’ for him either though because they can then show him choosing to embrace it and possibly even specifically not wanting to reverse it (they like to contrast his choices against Angel’s).

I do think that, in an immediate sense, Spike becoming human could well actually derail Spuffy in a different way. At the moment I think Buffy has an issue with Spike’s vampiric nature (and to a degree Spike does too, see his mini/reasons for leaving) but I think they would both feel the pressure if Spike became human. Plus the writers wouldn’t do it for the ‘ship’ so I would expect them to make that clear by it not servicing them running into each other’s arms joyfully. I don’t know, I want to see Buffy/Spike actually explore a relationship, date etc but I just think if he becomes human it would be a very slow/tentative path to it (and then he would probably die).

Even though he is unquestionably my fave, I have no real desire to see Spike in his own title. I enjoyed the mini and would welcome offshoot adventures but I think he is at his best when he is used to play other character’s stories/mirror and snark away.

14 03 2013

The problem is what happens next. If Spike is human, he will always be a secondary character, always linked to Buffy’s title or Angel’s, Faith’s etc, always serving their story. That is what scares me. So if they want to actually do something with Spike, making him human will not be a good option in the long run. That’s what I think.

Great review –

The thing is that judging how page space and arc were handled in this season, Spike being human would be another Xander and now we have young human Billy who I guess is also going to be a regular character, also Dowling another human fighting the good fight – Why do we need another character in the Spike ala human? If Spike were to have to transform into a different character, I have always wanted to have him take on the role of Giles as a super strong warrior but also as an intelligent and mature voice as guide. Spike Vampire Watcher – that is something that I could really get behind and frankly I had expected that his would be his new role in the franchise ever since he came back in the final phase of the Twilight Time.

I can see how fans of Spike being turned back into his human life would be excited with that concept – but frankly, how can that story be made powerful and interesting in a comic book series that is based on Buffy? This franchise is about Buffy and her story, Spike’s transformation to human life in a meaningful and in-depth exploration – how does that happen in a comic series that is about another character and all her close friends and the events of her life? Where is the page space for a great story that would be about Spike and his struggles with being a human? I always wondered why Severin called Spike “a worn-out vampire” in issue #4 or what all that talk between Spike and Eldre Koh about Buffy needing “normal” intended for their relationship and his story. What we do know is that the demons were not the ones who saved her life but it was a human and his human weapons that saved all of them that night. Spike once again was willing to offer his life to try and save Buffy.

If Simone wants or needs a different kind of vampire to make turn her failures into a potential success – wonder if Spike is the vampire in need?

15 03 2013

Spike in BtVS S2-7 serviced other’s stories and had his own amazing arc. I have no issues with him under a main title that isn’t his own. The writing/ideas are the key thing and the quality, which would be the case wherever he is. In my ideal little world Spike stays in Buffy’s title which is written entirely by Victor G, but I can’t see that being realistic (plus, obviously, it is an assumption he would do everyone else’s voices as well).

16 03 2013
Kiki May

I agree with Stoney. Spike was a secondary character in BtVS and his storyline was amazing. It depends on the authors’ ideas, really. I think that Spike’s journey as human could be interesting because of the exploration of what being human means. They did it with Anya and partially with Illyria – then AtS got cancelled and they didn’t have the space to talk about Illyria adjusting to the world. Now they can do it with Spike and it would be nice to see Buffy and Spike facing this journey together because, in the end, Buffy is all about how difficult is to being alive.

17 03 2013

I have to admit, I liked Xander the most in this issue. Finally he acting like a real man. I hope Dawn wouldn’t die. Buffy will be broken. I hope Willow will come back just in time and will save Dawn. Also, I don’t want Spike to be a human. Not at all. Vampire with a soul is perfect to him.

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