"Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 9): Volume 1 - Freefall" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally published by as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 9) #1 - #5 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Magical Mystery Tour Featuring the Beetles
Written by Joss Whedon, Andrew Chambliss, and Jane Espenson
Illustrated by Georges Jeanty and Karl Moline
2011, 146 Pages
Trade Paperback released on July 4th, 2012
Big things seemed to be in store as Buffy the Vampire Slayer entered its ninth season, now in comic book form. The first collection, Freefall, picks up after the events of the previous season, where the Chosen One destroyed the seed and all magic on the planet as a result. Now it was time for her to get back to basics. No more world traveling, slayer army for this girl. Buffy was going to hit the streets and take out the vampires like she did years ago when she started out all those years ago. Of course, times have changed.
With magic gone, new vampires aren't the same. When someone was sired, a demon inhabited their body. Now that the creature can't get through, the person becomes animalistic, reacting on instinct alone to feed and lash out at others, but without that human mindset. Dubbed "Zombies" by Xander, they're posing a formidable threat to Buffy. Unfortunately for her, she doesn't have the backup that she once had. The slayers that she helped create back in Season 7 have all turned on her and her friendship with Willow is rocky after the seed was destroyed. What's a girl to do?
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The answer to that question is apparently nothing. Buffy finds herself without friends, family, or any kind of support so she falls apart. Without Willow, Xander, Dawn, and Giles, she doesn't have that group of people taking care of all the details for her so that she can go out and just punch something really hard. Now she has to think for herself and decide what she wants to do in this very different world. This is apparently too hard for her because she can't really figure that out. She has a party. She tries to get the band back together. She looks for some sort of meaning but can't find anything.
This is where Season 9 is losing me. Buffy is completely aimless. This volume is just the start of it. All she knows is slaying. Despite the fact that she didn't become the Chosen One until she was a sophomore in high school, she doesn't know how to live a normal life that doesn't involve killing demons and other supernatural creatures. That's all she is. The characters around her have all moved on. Xander, who once embraced this wholeheartedly and helped guide the slayers, is content with being a regular guy dating Dawn. You can tell that Willow wants to get back out there, but she can't partner up with Buffy like they used to. Instead, she's accepted her new station in life.
Georges Jeanty returns to draw Buffy as the regular series artist in Season 9. I'm not a fan of his artwork as the facial features of most of his characters look off. He often has trouble with noses and the results are rather strange. I do like how some of the Scoobie Gang, especially Willow, have grown up. It's very clear that they're adults now and they look and act as such. Buffy, of course, is still the carefree child.
Season 9 had a lot of potential at the get go, but Freefall feels like a misstep. Buffy has no clear direction or even a path that she can hope to get to. Instead, she is just squandering, looking to kill things. The logical thing would have been for her to join up with the police department and that detective who she clearly has sexual tension with. With the Zompires on the rise, it would make sense for her to lend her talents to the greater good -- and more importantly, to get a paycheck -- by helping to put those things down. Instead she'll continue working at the coffee shop. That'll make for an interesting chapter in the history of the slayers.