Here is my first Whedonverse review. It is long overdue. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 was a bit of a mixed bag but ended really strongly. It also had the great Faith and Giles storyline. Unfortunately, Faith joined up with Angel on another book (the thus far superior Angel & Faith). The majority of Buffy in Season 9 has been a bit stale. Perhaps it's due to the fact that it has mostly been one writer, Andrew Chambliss (of various mediocre TV show credits), that has handled the majority of the issues since Joss Whedon took up residence at Marvel. Season 8 had Brian K. Vaughan, Jeph Loeb, and Brad Meltzer. BVS show writer Jane Espenson contributed some great work in Season 8 but has delivered the two worst issues of Season 9. Joss needs to step in here.
As far as where the Slayer stands, yes, she still works a menial job to make money. There also has been plenty of meandering and self-pity. This might be where a Giles could come in handy, hmm? Everyone blames Buffy for destroying the seed (the source of all magic). She's befriended a cop (maybe more than befriended) and enlisted a teenage boy named Billy into Slayerdom (he has no powers so that makes no sense). She lives in an apartment with two, seemingly, normal people. Ominous...
Kennedy's return in, "Guarded", and the Buffy Bot story, "(A)Part of Me", were entertaining but were not central to the issues. With "Welcome to the Team", Illyria shows up and things finally start to come into focus. Using her teleportation ability that seems to be working again, she yanks Buffy out of a zompire (zombie vampire; with no magic, vampires are no longer human hybrids - just normal mindless monsters) skirmish, leaving Billy and the good Detective Dowling to fend them off. They don't do well. Xander and Dawn arrive for support until the unfightable attacks, leaving Andrew to try and pick up the pieces. Yikes.
Illyria is now part of a council along with D'Hoffryn and other strange beings. Their mission is to protect what little magic exists in this realm. They recruit Buffy to try and stop Severin, known as the Siphon, a being with the ability to, well, siphon mystical energy from beings. Koh, the Nitobe demon that turned helped the Chosen One in "Freefall" and turned on her in "Guarded", once again finds himself with a common axe to grind into the head of a shared enemy.
Battle ensues but two soldiers fall, one of which is closer to Buffy than others. The worst part is that in playing her part with Twilight/Angel in Season 8 (leading to the destruction of the seed), this ally's fate is her fault. In her defense, the seed had to go or the world would be erased. But her closest confidant reminds her that of all the many times she has saved it, the world just doesn't get any better. The book is finally addressing lasting consequences and touching some emotional places. It's nice to see Chambliss and company finding a direction as they head into the second half of the season.