“BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 9” takes another well-defined turn in the new story arc, “Guarded,” by Andrew Chambliss. Buffy, in many ways, is an artist. Her work as a Slayer has a singular vision. She is a Slayer down to the tips of her toes. And, like any good dancer or mime, she is completely dedicated to her art to the neglect of any kind of retirement plan. The world, magicless as it is, has pulled the rug out from under her. Barista work doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore. Enter Kennedy, a savvy ex-Slayer, who offers Buffy that thing she’s been craving: stability, a “real” life. But, as any real artist knows, comfort comes at a price. Buffy doesn’t want to be a flake but she also doesn’t want to be a sellout. Buffy can’t stop being Buffy so her solution will forever be complicated. As she tells Kennedy, “I can’t just shut it off like you.”

But what’s a girl to do? So, Buffy goes corporate, sort of, and joins Kennedy’s venture, a highend security service where ex-Slayers are hired out as bodyguards for rich clients. Like it or not, Kennedy has breathed life back into a bunch of Slayers who were down in the dumps. Buffy and Kennedy are walking through the company training camp when Kennedy observes, “There’s not a lot ex-Slayers are suited for in a world that’s minus the magic. Most of us didn’t even finish high school.” Yeah, so it makes sense. What do you do after you’ve run away to join the circus? Maybe take the next job with a decent 401K? Of course, Buffy is hardly a circus act, but a harsh economy doesn’t care.

Buffy, the artist, is also a soldier who is not whole outside the fight. It plays with her mind. She can’t focus. Her big fail in training speaks volumes. Her goal was clouded at the first sight of a demon roaming the hotel corridor she was supposed to protect. It turns out that the demon she tackled into the maid’s closet was actually a bellhop and it was the maid who she should have had her eyes on. Try as she might, Buffy can’t push the pause button on who she is. Chambliss does a wonderful job of expressing the conflict Buffy feels as she struggles to do what she thinks she is supposed to do, earn a decent living in the modern world, as opposed to just doing what comes natural. Kennedy goads Buffy to go against her instincts. She chides her for not willing to try something new. She taunts her needing to do something larger-than-life. The simple fact remains that Buffy really is larger-than-life! It’s the way countless aspiring painters and writers feel as they toil away as receptionists and waiters. Chambliss knows. And Buffy feels your pain.

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9,” #11, is available June 11, which also happens to be the first day of the San Diego Comic-Con! I will be there to see what all the fuss is about. Be sure to LIKE the brand new snazzy Comics Grinder Facebook Page. And check out the merch at the Comics Grinder store. And, as always, be sure to visit Dark Horse Comics.

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