After all the promises that it would be more focused and a tighter overall experience than its predecessor, it’s been hard to maintain excitement over “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9.” There have been some great individual issues throughout its run, but in terms of a greater whole it hasn’t quite held together. Reading “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9” #19, that feeling is harder to shake than ever, because the plot is finally coming together but it’s difficult to care.
At least the “Season 8” comics had the mysterious Twilight (even if the revelation of his identity turned out to be a bust) to spur things forward. Here we have a guy referred to as “the Siphon” who has the personality of a piece of wallpaper. There’s nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the Siphon to make you fear him as he goes up against Illyria, Buffy and the rest of the magical beings that have banded together in this storyline; we’re told he’s dangerous but it never feels like we’re actually shown it here.
As “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9” #19 jumps to the other storylines — Dawn and Xander in the hospital, or Billy trying to figure out what’s happening to all of the other characters — it’s also a reminder that this book’s different threads haven’t hung together terribly well. Never mind that Xander and Dawn’s relationship is one that doesn’t seem to have any actual passion in it, but once again we’re just given something and told that it’s important rather than making us come to that conclusion on our own. Once again, it’s the reverse of “show, not tell.”
After making a strong artistic debut in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8” as its main artist, Jeanty’s pencils feel a little tired these days. Characters like Illyria are barely recognizable save for the outfit, and while Buffy and Xander appear on-model, there are a lot of very stiff poses on display here. Every now and then there’s a little spark of the old Jeanty, like the last panel on page 11 with an attractive and expressive portrait of Buffy as she explains her theory about what the Siphon is up to. But those are, unfortunately, growing few and far between.
It’s frustrating because looking at the sister title of “Angel & Faith,” creators Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs show how the “Season 9” concept can still work. That book is fun. Why isn’t this one? The broad stokes of the book are somewhat interesting, but the execution is regularly stumbling. After the promises that “Season 9” would be stronger, I’m finding it hard to find an incentive to look at a future “Season 10” if it happens.