"Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Nine #7" by Andrew Chambliss and Georges Jeanty is an incredibly controversial comic. While it is arguably less politically controversial than the previous issue, there are plot developments here that will leave fans in a tailspin.
The issue begins with Buffy's roommates voting to let her stay in the apartment only to find she has already left and moved in with Spike in his steampunk bug spaceship, a development sure to make Buffy/Spike fans nearly faint with excitement (I say that as one myself). In-depth emotional conversations between the two friends and former lovers will both curl fans' toes and continue the political controversy of the last issue as they discuss her impending abortion.
However, the real craziness in this issue comes after a fight with a huge nest of zompires when Buffy has her arm torn off, which is not even the most shocking development. I'm incredibly serious. As a devoted fan of these characters almost since their inception, had I been asked to make a list of things that might happen in this issue, I never in million years would have come up with what the last few pages reveal. This plot point, regardless of how the creative team plans to explain it in the future or what plot twists will ensue, is painfully clear for now.
The Buffy universe constantly surprises me. When Buffy died (all three times), when Angel lost his soul, when Spike gained his, when Buffy and Spike finally became lovers and then eventually friends, when Buffy's mother died, when Buffy turned out to have a sister and when Giles was killed -- these were all shocking moments in Buffy lore, but they were quite simply nothing compared to this. As a fan and reviewer, I honestly don't know what to do with this information.
The issue itself is wonderful. Chambliss has an effortless handle on these characters' voices and Jeanty's art is so quintessentially "Buffy" at this point that when I see his art, I instantly think of Buffy. This issue is filled with so much good, it's nearly impossible to fault it -- conversations between characters many fans have waited years to see that remain absolutely true to the characters and their individual evolutions, a solid battle sequence and some funny stuff to take the edge off rounds out the issue. However, the important thing is that ending. That ending will leave you reeling.
If it were not for my absolute faith in Joss Whedon, this development might worry me. How will it resolve? Is there a plan? What does it all mean? But I do have great faith in Joss Whedon, as last issue reminded me when he delivered a controversial story I could both respect and felt absolutely true to these characters he's created. So I will sit back and wait very impatiently at whatever he has in store for these characters. Chambliss and Jeanty have proven themselves more than worthy of rolling this story out with all the respect, beauty and consistency it deserves. I am unprepared, but incredibly intrigued.