Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: Buffy Season 9, #11 - Guarded, Part 1

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Buffy is trying something new—not Slaying. WHAT?! Enter Kennedy. Slayer. Ex-girlfriend of magicless Willow. Bossy. She’s joined a company that hires Slayers to act as bodyguards for high-profile clients, and Buffy is her most recent recruit. But Buffy is having a little trouble letting go of Slaying. Things that go bump in the night are kinda her forte. Luckily . . . her first client is having some woeful demon trouble that Buffy can’t wait to sink her stake into.

SYNOPSIS

Buffy has a new job: working for Kennedy, who has set up the former Slayer army as a bodyguard service. Buffy is protecting someone in a hotel when Kennedy radios her about suspicious activity. Buffy spots a demon dressed as a bellhop in the hallway and chases it down, but he's not the assassin. It was a woman who was dressed as a maid, and she gets in the room. Buffy arrives just in time and dives in front of the shot, but it's a blank. The whole thing was a test, which Buffy failed. She decides she's not cut out for this job, and she's meant for saving the world, so she leaves.

Koh tracks down Buffy and wants to enlist her help in finding his enemy, but Buffy isn't sure she's interested in that either. She wants to get her life together. She grabs a stake from her bunk, and heads out, but not before Kennedy stops her. Buffy thinks she should be out fighting zompires. Kennedy thinks Buffy's scared of facing a new challenge, one without "destiny." Buffy storms off. She encounters a zompire attack on patrol, but the police stop it before she could. Dowling explains that since his partner was killed, the department has set up a whole zompire task force. Buffy realizes she's truly not needed on the streets and goes back to Kennedy, who's meeting the client at the airport. This is no training mission. They're protecting Theo Daniels, a software magnate, from a well-known enemy: Wolfram and Hart.

REVIEW

I'm of two minds on this issue. Mostly, I loved it. The storytelling was well done, and even if the whole "fake training mission" setup at the beginning was cliche, it still worked. It actually worked BECAUSE it was cliche. I saw it coming, you saw it coming, Andrew DEFINITELY saw it coming, but Buffy didn't. Buffy didn't see the obviousness of the assassin dressed as a nurse or the whole thing being a training exercise, because she doesn't think like a normal person. She thinks like a slayer: the big scary demon is the bad guy and the way to stop him is through violence.

The whole issue was an exploration of how Buffy thinks -- "I'm a slayer, I slay demons, the people need me to stop the demons" -- and how that mindset is no longer in line with the rest of the world after the destruction of The Seed.

So what's the other mindset regarding this issue? Well, I couldn't help but think while reading it that THIS is where Season 9 should have started. Or hell, at least have arrived here by like Issue 5, rather than Issue 11. That said, between the reveal at the end of this issue and Willow showing up in "Angel & Faith", we're moving quickly down the path toward the convergence of the two titles. And that's a good thing.

I liked Georges Jeanty's B cover (seen here) better than Phil Noto's A cover, but both are pretty good. Jeanty also does a solid job with Kennedy, who gets her first extended run since Season 8 started. It did take me awhile to get used to long-haired Kennedy again, especially since Iyari Limon has had short hair in pretty much everything she's done since "Buffy." Kennedy wasn't a pure Limon likeness, but there were hints there, weirdly enough in the eyebrows.

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