Angel & Faith #1
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
I was asking someone the other day if they knew when Buffy Season 9 was starting, as while I knew it was coming, I had no idea when. I didn’t read Season 8 when it happened either, hell, I just finished watching Buffy and Angel through for the first times last year. So I’m new to this, you know? I’ve read After the Fall, I’ve read some of Season 8, I like the characters, and I’ve been wanting to get some books from companies other than Marvel and DC. And hey look, there’s Christos Gage who happens to write one of my favorite Marvel titles (Avengers Academy), so I am completely set and ready for this book.
When season eight ended, Angel (while still possessed by Twilight) killed Giles, and Buffy managed to defeat him at the cost of magic in the universe. Giles, the beloved Watcher from the show and series, leaves all of his possessions save for a book to Faith. This includes his flat in London that sort of sets the stage for where things go from here; as Angel is there as well, and Faith seeks to redeem him. There, that’s the backup you need to understand the goings on of this book, and it’s not too complicated either. Giles is dead, and unfortunately he left quite a few loose ends that Angel and Faith now have to tie up for him.
The issue opens up with a story about one of Giles little missions in the past, as he had to go try and exorcise a demon from a little girl, but unfortunately, failed to do more than simply contain it within her. He sacrificed the memories of the best day of his life, but he was successful, and promised to return to finish the job. I say unfortunately because, well, Giles is dead now, and Angel and Faith are the ones fighting this demon to save the little girl being used as a host. The flashback blends seamlessly into the actual story, which begins with Angel and Faith fighting for their lives against these tentacles coming from the girls mouth. Faith has, well, faith in Angel; who happens to be a little bit…less than his usual confidence. He’s not great with magic, and she has an axe, so it forces Angel to come up with his own method of defeating the beast.
The issue jumps immediately into characterizing moments. The earlier memory Giles sacrificed is given to Angel, which does a nice job of amping up his already guilty conscience. He’s back to helping the helpless, and being the stoic badass that he is, that’s a great place for him to start. His guilt over Giles is what keeps him there with Faith, and while it isn’t LA gone to hell, it feels a lot like Angel. Faith goes to meet with a friend of hers, a former Slayer from Season 8, who tells her about how her group was massacred. The way the talk goes, and the way Faith handles it, well, that’s Faith. She knows more than she’s willing to tell, and she’ll say the right things, but you come out of the conversation with a feeling that this will come back to haunt her. This does set up the villains for this series though, a pair of demonic siblings who once followed Twilight.
I really like the art in this book. Normally I’m the super hero guy, so all I can really compare artists to is other artists on that character, but with this, well, I’m generally critical of artists trying to draw actual people. That isn’t to say I have a problem with it, but I get critical if it doesn’t look just right. Some of the stuff I’ve seen either tries too hard to make everyone look like the actor, or to comic-book-it-up, but Rebekah Isaacs does something I’ve grown accustomed to in the Buffy and Angel comics. Angel looks like Angel, Faith looks like Faith. They don’t look like they were drawn to be like “Eliza Dushku! David Boreanaz!”, well, no, one of the covers totally has that look, but that wasn’t her. The issue looks great, and it has the same sort of feel that I came in wanting.
Christos Gage doesn’t seem to let me down, and that’s a good thing. His work here is well done, the characters have their voices and personalities, the pacing is really well done, and really, it feels like an episode of Angel…well, part of an episode. Buffy and Angel being back together under one roof at Dark Horse can only lead to good things, and given that this issue is the first release of Season 9, the bar is set pretty high going forward. I can’t wait for the next issue.