After Andrew Chambliss brought Illyria into the main Buffy book so well, I was hoping that she would be more than a McGuffin for the plot. While this is sadly true, the rest of the issue is the usual goodness that we have come to expect from Chambliss
Illyria has been at the back of the comic universe since it’s formation. She didn’t play much of a part in the Angel series over at IDW, and she hasn’t done much in Season 9 either. She is such a powerful force, that her inclusion automatically ramps up the stakes in the issue. But that isn’t felt here. Chambliss knows the character very well, as is evident in the dialogue. I can hear Amy Acker’s voice in my head as I read the lines. But Sev’s aim is to use her powers on his girlfriend, so she takes back seat as a plot device. A very powerful plot device, but still a plot device. Maybe this is a problem with the character in general, and that would explain her absence in most of the Buffy comics. Sev’s motivation is a little lackluster. Maybe it is just me, but his power source seems a little…opportunistic. He can beat anyone, since no one knows what other types of powers he has been sucking up. If we had seen small scenes of him throughout the season, that would be different.
Even with the faults, Chambliss still writes a good issue. Xander’s rage feels earned this issue, where it seemed out of nowhere in the past few issues. Having Andrew pop back up was an inspired choice. The first half of this season feels like forever ago when compared to what is going on now in the series. Having Andrew come back, as well as a controversial plot point, gives the season a cohesive feel. This was really needed, as we haven’ had a Big Bad as the main motivation for the group. The other side characters get some good moments. Billy continues to get better and better, and Anaheed has a nice little moment near the end. Buffy has always been about persevering and winning, even when you are the underdog. That pseudo mission statement is used to great effect in this issue. Buffy is clearly scared, and doesn’t know what to do, but you’ll never see her admit it. She may not be a general anymore, but she still knows how to command.
Georges Jeanty pencils a strong issue. At this point, at least Jeanty is consistent with his pencils. Characters look more like their actor counterparts when the action dies down, but they the reader can still see who the character is when the action heats up. Except for Illyria, who looks exactly like Acker in every scene. His Xander particularly looks great. Dawn is a spitting image of Michele Trachtenberg. Occasionally his action sequences can become muddled, but he keeps them clean and easy to follow here. Zomprie kills have always looked great under Jeanty. Dexter Vines continues to be an inking genius on this book. He sets the moods impeccably. The zomprie dustings wouldn’t be as great as they are without Michelle Madsen’s bright colors.
With the season winding down, Chambliss is starting to end all the big plot threads. #18 isn’t perfect, but it is still a good issue.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #18 gets 3.5/5