"Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 9" has had its fair share of strong cliffhangers; first Buffy discovering she's pregnant, then deciding to go through having an abortion and finally realizing that actually she's not pregnant but merely a robot. With that level of "surprise!" moments for the past few months, it was just a matter of time until writer Andrew Chambliss had to bring in a massive amount of exposition. With that arrival, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 9" loses all of that steam.
Chambliss (along with editor Scott Allie, stepping in this month) does his best to explain how, when, and why Buffy was replaced with yet another BuffyBot, but the reasoning never feels quite that strong. It's a little hard to believe that the person behind the swap would have actually done so (especially considering the use of the character in previous comic stories), and the telling of the events comes across as extremely flat. It doesn't help that we've got more of Spike's alien bug friends (whose arrival in "Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8" was one of the low points of the series) and all in all we end up with a limp, subpar story.
Cliff Richards steps in to pencil this month's issue and it's a little uneven. Some characters are still strongly on model (most notably Buffy), but others are unrecognizable save for the dialogue pointing them out (most notably the person behind the BuffyBot swap) and in general everything feels a little unenergetic and blocky. Even when a new vampire rises up in the morgue, it comes across as something uninteresting from a visual sense. Richards has done a better job on past "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" comics, but this is not one of his stronger efforts.
The frustrating thing is that there are good ideas behind "Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 9" #8 and the series in general. Unfortunately, an unenergetic script paired with average art has muted the ideas that did work and help emphasize the ones that are being thrown away (most notably Buffy trying to live the life of an average person). "Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 9" has overall been an improvement over the last year or so of "Season 8" comics, but this is a reversion to those earlier issues. Here's hoping it's just a temporary blip.