I might be one of the few people who actually was quite happy with betentacled parts
of issue 12, because - Ktulhu (that's russian for Chtulhu btw) references never get old, and because I am so much into hardware myself that I can see where the writer was coming from.
Gosh , once you start de-tangling your connection cables, you can easily get to a point when you think they must be nasty demonic tentacles out there to get you. So, yeah, imagining that the whole bunch of cables that runs in and out of a server room, and connects the aforementioned servers to God-knows-what on the other side, are the appendages of one Teuth demon, is quite plausible.
Buffy can actually say Angel's name aloud - and not faint or run out of the room crying after that. We saw her smiling two issues before at the first mention of him by Andrew, in this issue she is brave enough to say 'Angel' in a positive context, as in : was ready to die to keep Wolfram and Hart out of this realm. Little enough, true, but still the taboo is broken. And there was a connection to Spike too - likely she knows the whole story of how he got his Chuck-full-O'Bugs ship, as the senior partners were mentioned hopping dimensions. There is a chance yet of the verse's main storylines and characters coming together eventually. Buffy not getting to mention Angel's name in whatever context for 11 issues of the season was seriously grating on my nerves. It took them 'only' 5 issues to get her to mention missing Giles. It took another 6 or 7 to get to the point where Buffy actually says something like 'our little Twilight showdown' - interestingly, in the same context as W&H.
Now, I know I was complaining about A&f getting overboard with emotional moments, but here I wish that Buffy book was a bit more open with characters emotional context. The way Chambliss writes Buffy post Robot storyline, she is so emotionally clammed up that it becomes hard to stay focused on her and her story - no wonder every second reviewer of this arc felt that it is dull. Buffy as a character have never been portrayed quite so emotionally divorced from her associates and comrades-at-arms. And here I fear that Buffy's exchanges with every other character that she is interacting with are distant and insincere. The closest she ever comes to opening up are in two little dialogs one with Kennedy - that comes up when they are discussing the consequences of shutting down TinCan , and another one with Theo Daniels - the unfortunate founder of the (chicken?) Soup ( or rather - Internet ) for your Soul website. Btw - I suspect that the name is an ironic reference to the series of famous books - that are supposed to be something of an equivalent of Moral Dilemmas and Solutions for Dummies. Why am I not surprised that Wolfram and Hart would be pushing a demonic social network on the unsuspecting populace under the guise of something soul-nourishing ? (Too bad Campbell does not make the Kitten Soup flavor - might have been popular with some of the TinCan more refined clientele. )
In any case - going back to the two notable conversations that Buffy has in this issue. First one is with Kennedy.
Buffy-Kennedy exchange a few notable lines that bring up Willow and her loss of magic - right at the same time when the readers of A&F sister-book learned that Willow is taking a serious step in the direction of restoring magic to the world - and does it in the company of someone whose name Buffy was not able to speak aloud until this issue. In itself Kennedy-Willow broken relationship being brought up only takes us so far. But when Buffy mentions something like 'Willow getting magic back isn't going to undo what happened between you two, and you told me the breakup was a good thing' followed by Kennedy's 'does not mean I don't care about her', it makes one wonder if some hinted at double entendre was intentional.
I do admit though, that Buffy's continuous almost zealous insistence on being wary and suspicious of anything demonic ( not normal) is being pushed through as an intentional message. Buffy is a Slayer and her instincts are all awake. She extremely defensive of her current situation, and of her herself being 'in the right' in her role of protector of humanity against demons - maybe a little too defensive and almost paranoid. I am not surprised - remembering how the last season she was playing Che Gehvara of the verse - a revolutionary all starry eyed and set upon 'changing the world', who did not flinch at robbing banks for needed funds to support the 'case', and butting heads with human military. It turned out not so stellar in the end - as her personal revolution went bad , disturbing the equilibrium and basically opening a possibility for Twilight prophecy to come through. Now she is stubborn enough to insist they were saving the world - when Kennedy suggest they were doing something else ( see issue 11 for that).
The second notable conversation of this issue happens between Buffy and Theo Daniels.
Buffy basically tells Theo that destroying his life's work - the same way she destroyed the Slayer line by breaking the Seed - after activating all eligible girls in the world and making them feel 'connected' in that very special way that only Slayers can - is still the only possible solution to his dilemma *if* it is done for the right reasons. Thus she insists that her reason for destroying the Seed was not fixing the mistake she made ( which she would deem being 'selfish' reason) but to keep evil out of this world. In itself this is a very bold statement , but I don't think it denies having made mistakes in the first place - and there were plenty of these made by many last season. And Buffy ( and Angel) were not the only ones who made terrible mistakes. I kind of hope this little conversation is a pointer in the right direction and the writers are thinking of ending the remorse-self-hatred-more-bad-decisions party that plagues every character in the verse this season.
Final somewhat notable dynamics in this issue is between Buffy and Koh the Nitobe demon. I am not much surprised at his turncoat twist this issue. The way Buffy treated him was at best suspicion , mixed with practicality ( he owes me some - so he can be useful), so it turned out she misread his honor code - as he values vengeance higher than obligation. The problem is, Koh was not fleshed out much, so his 'betrayal' did not make much of emotional impact ( and maybe it never was intended to make it). But since the social network genius Theo is not much of an instant charmer either - it is hard to care much if he is going to survive his ordeal with W&H. I just think it would be a waste to introduce W&H and their servers of doom in this arc - only to destroy their 'foothold' in this dimension for good. So I somewhat controversially wish for the servers to have a mirror site.
I cannot say much about the art in this issue - I think Jeanty have managed a few good panels to grant him absolution of Theo looking like glorified Andrew , and Buffy sometimes looking like a complete stranger. I liked the reddish vs grayscale coloring of the last few pages a lot though. And the Teuth demon looking like the giant squid from Pirates of the Caribbean against the dark green seawater background. By the way - next issue cover has Buffy and Koh fighting some vampires side by side - I wonder if that cover now can be considered a decoy ?
- Review - Buffy the Vampire Slayer S9 #12