Review of Guarded: Part III (Buffy Comic)
Season 9, Issue #13
"Guarded: Part III"
Script: Andrew Chambliss
Pencils: Georges Jeanty
“Acting as bodyguard for her first-ever client, Buffy has found herself entangled in some nasty demon business with ties to Angel and his time in LA. Through the social network Tincan, some demons have been able to connect to our world, and any attempts to sever that connection will lead Buffy and her client into increasingly dangerous territory…”
This issue jumps right in where the previous installment of the arc left off, and that makes it a rather difficult read, even for those relatively well-versed in the current status quo of the Buffyverse. When last we saw the Slayer, she was working for Kennedy’s ex-Slayer high-stakes security firm. As it happens, her client is being hunted by agents of Wolfram and Hart, and as longtime “Angel” fans know, that’s not good news. As one would expect, the loss of magic from the Earth dimension has changed their game.
Not that I have a problem with stories that compel you to go back to previous issues and see how all the threads come together, but I don’t think I should feel like there was something vital missing from the recap at the beginning of the issue. Those little title pages with a recap are practically a godsend these days. Maybe reminding the readers who Koh and Tincan are would have been a good idea?
This story is also meant to explore how the ex-Slayers are dealing with the loss of magic in the Buffyverse, in concert with similar depths of exploration in “Angel and Faith”, where Willow is trying to use allies to reverse the problem. It does come up between Buffy and Kennedy, but it never feels like the discussion goes far enough.
I’ve also been fairly critical of Georges Jeanty’s artwork in recent years, given his penchant for making Buffy and her fellow Slayers look pre-pubescent when they are in their mid-20s at this point. But even with the considerable differences in appearance between Buffy and Kennedy, it’s surprising to discover that there are a few pages where I lost track of who was who. There’s just not enough variation in facial features. Compare that to Rebekah Isaacs on “Angel and Faith”, and there’s just no contest.
At the end of the day, the point is made that Buffy isn’t wired for self-interest. She’s offered an extremely lucrative job with Kennedy’s firm, but she decides to turn it down, because at the end of the day, it’s not all about her. It’s about being the Slayer. Which is all well and good, but I’m not convinced that Season 9 is doing a particularly good job of exploring the central question that has always been on the table: how does Buffy, as one of the longest-lived Slayers in history, balance her personal desires (free will) with the demands of her Chosen status (predestination)?
I feel like that concept is being explored more logically in “Angel and Faith”, where redemption has shifted from a road to walk to a preset reward to an end of its own. Buffy says that she needs to stop trying to save the world, and focus on just saving one person at a time, but I’m not sure where it goes from there. She still thinks of herself as being defined by her Chosen purpose, rather than by her own sense of direction. It may still be a metaphor for those of a similar age with just as little direction in life, but it doesn’t make it any less irritating to see Buffy still stuck in neutral, after all this time.
This review is based on the Dark Horse Digital version (~$2.99 US, retail)
* Jeanty’s art continues to have issues
* Buffy’s characterization feels like it’s going nowhere