Angel & Faith #11
"Family Reunion, Part I"
Script: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Rebekah Isaacs
Blurb: Following his impossible quest to resurrect Giles from a natural death, Angel has been living on the edge of right and wrong as he gathers remnants of Giles' soul into himself. As Faith keeps a weary eye on her friend, she has her own problems, reeling from a visit from her estranged father and resentment from her Slayer comrades. As if things couldn't get any weirder, a familiar face arrives with a special request and a bargaining chip...
My Blurb: Since are two Buffy titles are connecting, it may be useful to give a "where we are" blurb, here. Angel's collecting bits of Rupert's soul shards in an attempt to find some way to bring him back from the broken neck death that he gave him at the end of the Twilight debacle. Rupert's two aunts have arrived to help him, but also to ensure that Rupert isn't put through a hell, should Angel appear to be about to royally botch the effort. Faith is stuck somewhere between wanting Angel to succeed and wanting him to fail enough for him to give up this foolish-sounding quest of his. Especially since she's got her hands full with the London Slayers being pissed off at her over her working with Angel at all, when she should be staking him, in their opinion.
Meanwhile, Buffy and Willow were doing their ambiguous dance with Willow being passive-aggressive at every opportunity with her anger toward Buffy for destroying the Seed and stripping Earth of its ability to renew magic. This has left Willow desperate to reclaim her abilities as a witch. In order to go on her own quest, Wills stole the broken Scythe from Buffy and left San Francisco.
She's appeared now in London... and she obviously feels just as much ambiguous bitterness toward Angel as she's holding toward her best friend.
Page 01: At the door, Willow says that Andrew contacted her with Angel's request for a talk. Angel is surprised to see her as he had assumed there would be a phone call instead. But Willow was already in England, visiting Stonehenge in her efforts to restore magic. Alas, Stonehenge is just a pile of boring rocks in the wake of the Seed's shattering.
She's invited in, where she does a very short catch-up with Faith.
Page 02: With Willow's entrance, Lavinia and Sophie come downstairs to complain about all the noise. Willow greets them, as she had met them during her S6 summer in Bath. Willow makes more bitch-comments referring to Angel's murdering Giles, but Liv and Soph don't want to hear it. They tell her about Angel's bringing Giles back.
Angel starts to explain, but Willow has figured it out. She's realized that without him being able to summon Giles' soul back, he intends to try to build it from the fragments that he's left in various objects during his time on Earth. She offers that Angel wants the Scythe because Giles was holding it when he died and it is a magical item, presumably with some sparks left in it.
She then accuses Angel of being: stupid, selfish, reckless, and delusional.
In fact, she echoes Giles' words to her when he found out what she'd done to bring back Buffy.
Page 03: Angel worries that she told Buffy, but Wills assures him she kept her mouth shut. She tells him that Buffy has enough on her plate, of which, none of it is his business. She doesn't want Buffy to know what he's up to either because she doesn't want her to start dwelling on the hell she'd gone through after her own resurrection.
[And I can't help but point out, WILLOW, that some of the crap on her plate is the constant bitter side-comments you keep shooting at her over the Seed business. You weren't down there with her facing Twilight, and you didn't seem too concerned at her memories of watching Giles die every time you kept reminding her that she de-magicked you.
Let's talk again about being selfish.]
Angel isn't taking Willow's attitude laying down, as he reminds her that Buffy's resurrection was her doing, the implication being that she has a lot of nerve to throw attitude at him for his trying to save Giles from what he did to him. But Willow, rightly, points out that Buffy's resurrection was from a mystical death, and that she suffered for it.
Angel asks her if she regrets doing it, but Willow can't say that. It's obvious though that the pain she put all of them through by acting rashly still haunts her.
When Angel asks if she came all this way just to tell him to go to hell, she admits that she's actually there to help him despite everything she just said. But, she's only doing so because she needs something from him: Connor.
Commentary: I need to break to talk about this conversation. First, I do love the tone of the confrontation between Willow and Angel over this plan to resurrect Giles. It's logical for Willow to be brought into this, considering that she's one of the few on the planet with experience in resurrection. And she even knows how impossible it is to reverse a natural death under ordinary circumstances, thanks to her interaction with Osiris after Tara was shot. I also love that she's still feeling the emotional consequences of the S6 debacle because she didn't leave Buffy where she was happy [Of course she didn't know that; On the other hand though, she never seemed to consider that Buffy was anywhere but a hell dimension, because that would have gotten in the way of her doing what she wanted to do].
I even like her obvious rage toward Angel for killing Rupert, his being under the influence to the side. It seems perfectly in character for her to hold bitterness about that, considering how close to Giles she feels for him saving her from herself.
What I don't really like though is the tone of the scene. There is something just a bit too self-righteous about Willow's character in the writing this season that continues to irk me. This is especially true when she complains about what Buffy is going through in her life at the moment, without any consciousness at all that SHE has been adding to Buffy's woes by constantly being prickly at her over saving the world at the cost of the Seed. Worse though, is the vehemence with which she goes after Angel for barreling into this ill advised plan of his and the horrible suffering he could bring to Giles over it, just to then blow that all off because she's got her own plans and wants his help in return.
It wouldn't strike me so, if we hadn't already gotten so much of bitter-Willow in BTVS, S9 and if they'd just included a line from Wills acknowledging that she was being hypocritical over it, because she has a larger concern. But again, it's like the writers aren't aware that Willow is coming off as a hypocrite at all. Or, they're not allowing her to be aware of it.
Page 04: Willow explains that she needs Connor because he was "steeped in the essence" of Quor'Toth, a Hell dimension that both still has magic and can be reached via a rip in space, rather than a locked portal. She believes that with his help and the residual power held in the Slayer Scythe she can make the crossover and start working on restoring magic to Earth.
Faith points out that Angel has been avoiding Connor's calls this entire time, so they're not exactly in contact.
[Which I like as an explanation, because it at least hints as to why we haven't seen anyone from L.A. in this title thus far.]
She furthers that they don't even know where Connor is currently. Angel offers that, in fact, he does know. Connor is back in school -- he's been keeping tabs on him through a contact to make sure he's getting along okay. Faith is a bit annoyed that Angel hadn't shared that, since one of the themes in Angel this season has been Faith worrying over his shutting her out and doing the really dangerous stuff without a voice of reason to keep him grounded. He explains that Connor is a family matter [which, ouch].
But before Faith can respond to that, Angel has turned attention back to Willow for barging in and asking that he send his son back to a hell he grew up in, just so she can pursue some wild goose chase... basically exactly what she's accused him of doing in regards to Giles. He angrily tells her that he was actually ashamed to see her.
Commentary: Again, I really like this interaction between Angel and Willow, especially Angel's regaining some of his self-respect by calling Willow out on her disregard for Connor's feelings for her own selfish ends.
I also like that Connor is being brought back into the fold, as it was a little bothersome that he didn't get more mentions in Angel's title.
The only thing I'm questioning is whether they've decided to completely blow off IDW Angel's title here. That left off with Connor running a reconstituted Angel Investigations. Here it sounds like Connor may have left L.A. completely to attend school elsewhere. I liked Connor running the family business idea, and was hoping that it would allow more interaction with Angel's supporting characters with he and Faith, so I'm not exactly liking the way it sounds like we may be disregarding that now.
Page 05: Willow responds to Angel with a slap across the face and a demand that he not compare them. She states that she's not like him at all because he's so busy rushing down every avenue thinking about his own redemption, that he never considers the consequences until it's too late. She tells him that everything happening is directly his fault. She goes on to claim that no decent movies, music or books have been produced since the Seed's shattering. She claims that suicide rates are spiking across the world, all because it has become empty without magic. She claims that the world is becoming empty and people are losing hope, a state that will only continue to grow worse if she can't restore magic to Earth.
Her breakdown in front of him seems to get through Angel's self-defensive anger.
Page 06: Angel offers to go with her to speak to Connor, as long as she gets that ultimately it is his choice on whether to return to Quor'Toth. In exchange, Willow offers up whatever spark of Giles' remains in the Scythe.
They reach agreement since they both need what the other is offering to pursue their plans the other feels is crazy.
With Angel leaving to make arrangements to meet up with Connor, Faith asks Willow for a little help of her own since they got some time.
Page 07: Across town, we join Nadira who is wild-childing her way through a Zompire Gang of former bikers.
Faith joins her, having hunted down her location.
Page 08: Willow, of course, is in tow. After Faith and Nadira finish off the zompires, she reintroduces Wills to Nadira. We find out that Willow actually healed her after Nash and Pearl wiped out the rest of her squad. Seeing Willow does Nadira a world of good; just her assurance that things are going to get better.
Page 09: Between pages, Willow talks Nadira down from her kamikazee missions of rage, apparently over coffee in the shop behind them. When they rejoin Faith waiting on the corner, Nadira seems to be feeling better. Faith apologizes for having to leave the squad to fend for themselves for awhile, but Nadira tells her that Willow explained how important the mission gearing up is.
But she also tells Faith that they can't wait for her to return to find the twins, as word on the street is that they're gearing up for something big. Faith tells her to just make sure they stayed partnered up, rather than going off on solo missions.
She thanks Wills for talking Nadira down, and expresses that she's a good Slayer but she's got a lot of issues. Willow slyly refers to her being just like Faith.
Faith turns conversation back to Angel's quest and wants an honest opinion from Willow on whether there is any chance that Angel could succeed in reconstituting Rupert.
Commentary: Yeah, that was even more of a clumsy transition than it sounds like, reading the above. I didn't like the way that Nadira's rage-a-thon was short circuited by the visiting guest star, off panel, and between pages without anything happening in between.
It would've read a lot smoother if they'd had a few pages of Angel's progress, or Faith doing something and then returned to Willow and Nadira wrapping up their conversation on page 12. But the way it was handled was supremely poor.
Plus Nadira's arc was really undercut by Willow popping in to give her a hug? That made it all better... really?
Ugh. We could've really done without Nadira in this issue.
Page 10: Willow and Faith board a bus and Faith turns attention back to Angel's plans. Willow admits that on paper and in theory, what Angel is proposing does make a certain amount of sense, but without active magic in the world she's dubious about his success. Wills tells Faith that the only reason she's going along with this, is that she trusts her to stop Angel if it all looks like it's going bad.
[No, Willow -- you're going along with it because you're desperate and need Connor. That is the only reason.]
Faith tells Willow that she's worried about how Angel doesn't appear to be giving any thought to whether the cure will be worse than the disease and that she fears that he's doing this for himself, rather than for Rupert. Wills reads between the lines and the way that Faith is talking, and mentions that she gets her attempts at hinting the same thing is going on with herself. But, she claims to Faith that their two situations aren't analogous. Willow claims that Earth has lost something essential and she's not just trying to reclaim magic for herself.
Page 11: Back at the flat, Angel reconnects with Faith and Willow for the trip to L.A.
He's insistent to Liv and Sophie that he can have Alasdair watch things, if need be, but Rupert's aunts remind him that they are over a century old. It isn't like they can't house sit for him.
So, of course, the moment he's gone they skip off to Prague for a concert.
Page 12: On their arrival at LAX, Angel is smoothing things over with Willow by insisting that the plan was to give form to the new universe last season, and then bring everyone over. He wasn't just going to leave the rest of them to die in the reclaimed, demonic Earth.
They're met by Gunn.
Commentary: What can we really say about the Twit-Light debacle? Should we really say anything else about it?
Let's just say that I find Angel's claims, considering his behavior and mindset and mystic-influenced addled brain, to be dubious at best and gross self-deception at worst. Let's just take the claim here with a grain of salt and totally move on.
Page 13: In Gunn's car, Angel gets the latest on the L.A. crew. Illyria has gone missing. Kate has been rehired by the LAPD for their supernatural crimes unit, Lorne is off being a higher-being, Nina got herself a husband, and Connor has been in school.
Commentary: So, yes, the re-established Angel Investigations from Angel: S6 has folded again. But I'm glad that they've included Gunn and gave us quick bits on the rest of the crew. Future!Me informs me that Illyria will be seen soon.
Page 14: As Angel spots Connor with a girl, Gunn informs him that it's his girlfriend, Natalie. Apparently both are majoring in Social Work.
Seeing Connor with a life gives Angel cold feet, something that Willow is insistent doesn't change their deal. As they argue Connor leaps up and lands on the car hood... joking about his father wearing a hoodie.
Page 15: A bit later, the gang hang back as Connor and Angel reacquaint... again. Connor complains about Angel not returning his calls, just to show up out of the blue, making their relationship confusing. Angel apologizes, but claims that staying away from Connor works out best for his son, and the expresses his pride for what Connor is doing with his life.
Page 16: A bit later that is more so, the gang have gotten to a bar. Connor and Angel continue talking away from the rest of the gang. Connor tells him it hurt that Angel wouldn't return his calls, but he also gets it if Angel is involved in stuff he's trying to keep away from his son. He really just wants him to know that he doesn't have to hide away from him.
Angel goes up to the bar to get them another round, where Faith joins him. She basically tells Angel not to risk Connor trying to retrieve Giles.
Page 17: She goes on to say that he wanted her to tell him when he was crossing a line, and risking his alive son's life in a wacky plan to save a dead guy is it.
Angel takes affront, having already decided against taking Connor back to Quor'Toth. But he's pissed at Faith's butting in on this particular subject, considering that he had only just saved her from throttling her own old man. He tells her to keep her parenting advice to herself from now on.
But, when he rejoins Connor, he's with Gunn and Willow. Willow has taken the opportunity to explain why they're there. Before Angel can cut him off at the pass, Connor says that he's agreed to the trip to help out Wills.
Commentary: And, I can't help but feel that maybe... just maybe... Willow jumped into this moment with both feet because she recognized that Angel was going to get cold feet. This feels very underhanded to me, but it might just be because she's been so passive-aggressive since S9 started.
Page 18: Angel immediately turns on Willow, who reminds him that they'd agreed it would be Connor's choice, who repeats that he's in. Angel won't have it, and tells him he's not letting him risk himself. But Connor reminds him forcefully that he's not asking for permission. He also tells Angel that he's noticed the same subtle things that Willow has noted in regards to humanity losing hope with the effect spreading from the most vulnerable outward. He wants to bring magic back to the world as much as Willow does.
Angel tries to pull Gunn in on his side of the argument, but he tells him that he isn't getting involved in this family dispute. Faith snottily tells Angel that this argument sounds like "parenting advice" that he just told her to butt out of.
Page 19: Angel reminds Connor that he has a good, normal life going and he won't let him throw it all away. But Connor isn't having it. Angel tells him that he could try to stop him anyway, but Connor tells him he'd fail.
Connor reminds Angel that he's already survived Quor'Toth. He assures his father everything will be fine.
Commentary: YIKES. Panel 4 -- what happened to Angel's nose?!
Page 20: With the argument over, and Connor not agreeing to Angel's objections, the gang go over to the Hyperion. There, Willow involves Connor in a blood ritual using the Scythe.
Angel again tries to interject to stop things when Connor cries out in pain as Willow slices and dices a symbol on his chest. Gunn and Faith hold him back, but Angel insists that she's killing his son.
Commentary: Drama Queening, again, Angel? Connor has been through much worse... and recently... than a little bit of razoring and some candles-n-herbs.
Page 21: Willow starts to feel a bit guilty at the pain she's inflicting, but Connor assures her that he's cool with everything. He tells her to finish things up, which she does.
And, the "short cut" is successful, tearing a rip in space/time.
Page 22: With Gunn staying behind, and Angel still extremely unhappy with Connor going, they and Faith and Willow cross over the rift....
The Good: I like the interactions between Willow and Angel with the Twit-Light debacle still hanging over every word they exchange.
I loved seeing Gunn and Connor, again.
I really liked the parallels and differences being highlighted between Angel's crazy quest and Willow's not-less-crazy quest. I especially like how dubious Faith remains toward both of them.
The Bad: That transition between Nadira being half-crazed on page 8 and everything being copacetic on page 9 because of a Willow-hug & chat was really clumsy and abrupt.
Other Thoughts: We really didn't need Nadira in this issue at all and her little meltdown cry didn't really do anything for me, except make me wonder if her entire mini-arc was just disrupted.
The childish 100-year old aunts weren't that funny. Give 'em something to do, or send them on their way.
Willow remains an annoyance to me this season. I'm hoping that when she returns, she'll be more pleasant. Although I doubt it will happen, it'd be pretty neat if she actually failed in her quest. Comics-Willow often rides the line of Mary-Sue-ism for me and it'd be a nice change to see her fail to do something really big that she'd had her mind made up to do. Plus, it'd play much better into the Fray-future and I'm afraid we're just rewriting that bleak 'verse because BTVS is an ongoing concern again.
The Score: I really liked this issue for the conflicts and seeing old friends from AtS again. The issue really has momentum [excepting the Nadira part] and the end makes me feel good about this arc in Quor'Toth.
3.75 out of 5 stars
Next Review: Angel & Faith, #12