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15 November 2015 @ 08:42 am
Angel & Faith Reviewed: Season 02. Issue 20.  
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Angel & Faith
Season 02, Issue 20

"A Little More Than Kin", part 2

Script: Victor Gischler, Art: Will Conrad, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft's] Jimmy Betancourt,
Cover: Scott Fischer


Blurb: After a stateside run-in with Archaeus, the Big Bad that's been haunting Angel's and Spike's dreams, Angel heads back to Magic Town to follow up on a lead. Thanks to Faith and Fred's sleuthing, Angel knows the word on the street is that Archaeus has arrived in their neighborhood to check up on the recruiting that his dangerous new sidekick, Drusilla, has been doing at a local prep school. Archaeus is determined to bring his line of vampires together, but what does he have planned for Magic Town?






Page 01: Outside Nadira's loft, Drusilla has Nadira captive - though Nadira herself doesn't seem all that concerned with her status. Angel demands that Dru let Nadira go, while Drusilla berates Angel for thinking that he could replace his true family with "little bits like these".


Commentary: First, before we even get into the issue, let me give my kudos to the Conrad/Madsen team on the artwork. These pages are so detailed if you'll take a moment to really look at them. First, Nadira herself has all those electric green squiggles on half her body now that has to be included. But then, also check out my Hunk o' Vampire with his black nail polish and the tiny tear in his shirt, the bulging veins in his arms and the lines of his face. Check out the tatoos on the guy behind Dru along his arm and on the side of his shaved head. Finally, take a look at these background buildings behind Angel and our group vampire shot... the level of detail in these panels is amazing.


Page 02: Angel warns Dru that he can tell that she's only doing Archaeus' bidding and that he isn't going to allow himself to be drawn into the Elder Demon's influence again. But Dru plays on Angel's emotional weaknesses, especially his guilt over what he did to her when she was still human and sane and the way he abandoned her afterward. It keeps Angel off-kilter and distracted from fighting.

Fred rushes out of Nadira's building, only to find that Nadira's abductors haven't gone as far as she expected.


Page 03: Dru is irritated at the "bits of debris" that Angel surrounds himself with. She accuses him of trying to pretend he's a real boy and orders her minions to snatch up Fred now.

Fred in danger is enough to get Angel to push aside the emotional turmoil that comes with dealing with Drusilla and his past. He rushes her minions to keep them from Fred.





Commentary: The only thing I didn't like about this page is Fred's panicked "Angel!" cry of alarm. After everything Fred has been through, I really feel like she'd not react in the ways that Victor keeps writing for her.

After you'd been consumed by an Primordial God, I just don't think you'd be panicking every time a vampire bares its fangs in your direction. I wish we'd see a more toughened Fred and save the "girly act" for when she's actually fighting something larger than herself, more along Illyria's line of threat.

I can only think that Victor is trying to separate Fred from Faith by contrasting their reactions to make them very different types of people. But I think it's possible to do that without having Fred ready to go into a faint everytime she's threatened. If anything she should be more worried about Illyria making an escape to "save them" than she is about the actual bad guys threatening her.



Page 04: Together Angel and Fred thin Dru's minions, but find themselves surrounded. From off panel, comes a recognizable energy blade held in somebody's hand. This takes off the head of another of the vampires.


Page 05: The energy-blade is of course, Koh's. And he's arrived with Faith, who both very quickly reduce Dru's newest gang to dust.

But while Dru's minions are quickly being sent to wherever vampires roam when they're not infecting a physical body, Dru and Ruffian Beefcake make their exit with an unresisting Nadira.


Page 06: Faith gets caught up on Dru's presence and her abduction of Nadira. She wants to go after her immediately, but Angel worries that it's a set up. He tells Faith about being lured in San Fran so that Archaeus could turn him against Buffy.

He tells her that they can't afford to go off half-cocked only for him to be added to their problems.

Faith isn't wild about leaving Nadira with Dru, just because of Angel's Archaeus issue.


Page 07: Faith cools her jets and asks Angel how he wants to play it. Fred mentions that Nadira didn't look like somebody who was afraid of this abduction, something that Angel now realizes that he noticed as well.

He tells them that may mean that Nadira already knew she wasn't in immediate danger which means that Dru and/or Archaeus must need something else from her. That gives them time to organize. He sends Fred and Faith to recruit Brandt's help in tracking where Dru is hiding out.





Commentary: I liked Faith calling out her feelings of responsibility to look after Nadira. But her line here is kinda weird. She calls herself out for not being there for Nadira when she was recently gone. I don't see the reason though. Nadira has been fine without Faith's help since her change from Whistler's Magic Bomb. And Nadira hasn't said anything to Faith about resenting her time in America or with Kenn's outfit. She also hasn't had anything in particular happen to her until now that Faith would feel responsible for not getting her out of... again, until now.

I don't understand what Faith is talking about here. I think that this would've worked a lot better if she had mentioned feeling like she'd failed Nadira last season by being too wrapped up in the Giles-resurrection thing to notice just how angry and lost she had been, and now wanting to make it up to her. The way her feelings were referenced doesn't make a lot of sense to me.



Page 08: Later, Fred and Faith recruit Brandt and the police department to use their superior numbers to scour the entire London Metropolitan Area for any signs of where Dru may be calling home. Brandt wonders why Nadira would let a few vampires snatch her, with her weird magic powers going on.

Faith can't explain that, except that she hasn't seen any sign of Nadira throwing spells around. She offers that whatever her connection is with Magic Town's energy, she thinks that it'll keep Dru from hurting her for the moment.

After they leave, Faith admits to Fred that she's not really sure what Drusilla could do - her being generally unpredictable.


Page 09: Somewhere else, Nadira is being marched through tunnels. Drusilla offers that she and Nadira share a great deal in common, when it comes to voices in their heads. And they both have to keep the voices in line.

Nadira tries to explain that her and the magic aren't communicating like that and she doesn't keep the magic in line, but they do have a relationship which is hard to put into words. Dru blows this off in order to tell her vampires to quit bickering amongst themselves [our street punks and the Ruffian Beefcake are clashing again].

She goes on to lead Nadira into another special room in order to introduce her to...


Page 10: ... Archaeus the Magnificent.

Archaeus offers that he's been looking forward to meeting Nadira, and seem very familiar with her attachment to the Sentient Magic.


Page 11: Archaeus offers that she's been brought there because Archaeus desires her to make what amounts to introductions between himself and the Magic Town Sentience. He wishes, ultimately, for Magic Town to be his base of operations for his family, and wants the Magic's cooperation.

Nadira - far less calm about being before Archaeus than Drusilla's vampires - asks why she should do any such thing. Archaeus guesses that she cares about the Sentience. He offers that she has a duty to inform the Consciousness that Archaeus has a gift.


Commentary: At first, I didn't really get why Archaeus would have anything to do with Magic Town, except to keep Angel around his plot so he can act as the Big Bad. It seemed silly to me. But now, I can actually see where the Magic Town Sentience could be a powerful ally, depending on just what the Consciousness can do with its power... which has been left vague at this point.

It also makes sense to me now, that a partnership would probably allow the Magic Town magic to hide Archaeus and his kin, while they grow in number and strength. And one could imagine that, if such a partnership is successful, Archaeus plans on tapping the magical potential of Magic Town's Sentience for his own ends.

So, I now do like this development as it feels much more sensible than at first it appeared. And I like seeing Nadira a bit less serene [or as I've been putting it: less hippy-dippy] when faced with an actual old power, and away from the Sentience's direct protection [assuming there is any protection from it... which I'm dubious about based on what we've seen thus far].



Page 12: Elsewhere, Angel and his support team have been scouring Magic Town, just in case Dru is still in the immediate area.

But his and Koh's visits to the usual snitches turns out to be a bust.

Fortunately, Faith calls and is able to share some good news. Brandt has an address to check out.


Page 13: With Nadira, Archaeus is making his pitch that he's aware the Magic wants something more from its existence and is ready to offer it membership in his family. Together they'll make each other stronger... etc.

But Nadira tells him he doesn't understand the Sentient Magic at all. He implies that is why she's not dead. He offers that she's to act as an ambassador between the two powers, in order to help the Sentience understand that Archaeus wishes friendship.

But she's not impressed. Nadira tells Archaeus that she allowed herself to be brought there because she wants to save him from Magic Town, not to be his ambassador.


Page 14: With Angel, he finds that Brandt's team was able to discover some very unusually heavy deliveries being made to a butcherhouse... of crates and crates of pig's blood. Koh asks what that is supposed to mean, and Angel explains that if Dru is building a vampire army, she'll need to feed them. Too much hunting in the area would bring undue attention to where she's located. Hence, pig's blood to keep things quieted.

Fred discovers tunnels nearby, which would also be useful to Dru's operations. Eldre wonders why they don't simply go on the attack, as obviously Angel is hesitating. He tells him that he has a plan.

Angel calls Rupert's great-aunt, Sophronia, and asks if she'd be able to make a delivery....


Page 15: With Archaeus, Nadira goes on to tell him that she wants to save everyone, and he's just a lucky bystander to that. She tells him that the Magic is becoming aware of itself and its difference from the beings that it is perceiving around it. But Nadira also warns that the Sentience is childish, immature at the moment. And like a child, when it's afraid it lashes out.

She warns that the Sentience is more powerful than any of them can imagine and if Archaeus comes bullying his way into Magic Town, the Sentience will be afraid and it will lash out. He could be bringing danger to everyone who lives there with this quest of his.

Archaeus, as so many villains, isn't really interested in Magic Town's desires or in the people affected. He wants what he wants, and that is to subdue and control the Power he senses. He insists that Nadira will help them subdue the Sentience one way or another.

Nadira sighs that he really tried so hard to do this the easy way. Then she glares at Archaeus and tells him she may not know what she's become since she was altered during Magic Town's creation, but she does know that she never stopped being a Slayer.





Commentary: Okay, okay -- I gotta admit that despite my lukewarm feelings for Nadira, I did love this moment. Seeing a hint of actual passion in her again was great, and her standing up again as a Slayer was an awesome moment for the character.


Page 16: From a hidden fold in her dress, Nadira pulls out a stake!

To Archaeus and Drusilla's surprise, Nadira goes into an acrobatic attack against the vampires in the room, starting with a flying kick to knock Archaeus down.

Dru is next as she's smacked across the face hard enough to cause blood in her mouth. Nadira then goes on a staking spree against the muscle to whittle down the offensive firepower.


Page 17: Nadira continues to dance, leap and dodge around, wiping the floor with the vamps in the room.

Archaeus watches all this and as Nadira leaps over his head, he admits she's very brave.


Commentary: Yes! Loved seeing the Slayer get her slayering on. These two pages were terrific in showcasing Nadira's original characterization before she turned all wise-one/hippy-dippy on us.


Page 18: Alas, any single Slayer would be hard pressed to battle Archaeus -- which is probably why Nadira was focusing on the minions, instead.

She's grabbed by the hair from behind when she makes a should-be-fatal error. Archaeus quickly lifts her up and body slams her down onto the concrete floor. It's enough to put Nadira out cold.

Drusilla is ordered to relocate to the new HQ, and to drag Nadira with them by Archaeus.


Commentary: And I'm happy to see my lust-object Vampire standing intact and safe behind Drusilla's shoulder.


Page 19: When Sophie and Liv arrive, they've brought a van of weaponry and are decked out in high fashion dresses, but are ready to rumble. Which is why they're pissy when Angel orders them to guard the entrance and kill any stragglers, rather than be part of the main assault.

Koh tells Angel that while they waited he was off keeping watch but hasn't heard anything.

The gang make their way down into the tunnels, but Fred starts suspecting that they've missed the action and nobody is home.

Angel tells everyone that he's scenting something and he's not liking it....


Page 20: When they make their way inside, they find bodies... at least 11 of them, chained up above their heads. Faith's immediate fear is that Nadira is among them, but Angel assures her that if she'd been killed there, the scent of Slayer blood would be thick in the air.

He offers that may mean she's still alive.


Commentary: That was a bit of unexpected gruesomeness and was pleasantly shocking....


Page 21: On the wall nearby, Drusilla left a note in blood for Angel: "Daddy's come to take you home Angel".

He angrily tells the gang that they found this place, and they'll find the next one. After all issue of playing it "smart", i.e. safe - he now tells them that they're going to go after them full tilt and not stop until it's over. He checks with Faith for her approval of the new plan. She's five by five.





Commentary: It was a very nice moment of bringing Angel and Faith together as well. After the season where they've both been pursuing their own things, Angel's "Okay with you... Partner?" was laden with meaning, and we can take Faith's response and hand grip with him as the title going back to "Angel & Faith" from being "Angel" and "Faith".

That was also pretty cool, and it was a good idea to have Archaeus be the big bad to rebuild their full time partnership as well. Although, I do have to admit that they could've done much more with Faith and Angel only buzzing around the sidelines of each other's lives before they reached this moment of reconnecting... but whatevs.



Page 22: Elsewhere, Archaeus towers over Dru. He tells her how disappointed he is in her. She's confused and hurt by his admonition and he mentions a statue that she was supposed to be securing for his use. It is tied to the gift that was to persuade Nadira to turn the Sentient Magic to his side, and is obviously the statue that Mary's father has had delivered to his home, which also explains now why Dru was so intent on having Mary voluntarily join the team.

[Kind of. I'm still pretty much thinking it would've been easier to turn her right off and then use a bit of subterfuge to get the vampires' entrances into her father's home. I'm going to have to insist on seeing a better reason for leaving Mary unturned until she was ready to join them of her own choice or it'll just not make much sense. On the other hand, this is Drusilla, so maybe she took a special interest in Mary and had her own psychological reasoning behind wanting Mary's decision to be her own choice I'd guess.]

Dru dithers about everything that was going on and how Faith kept sticking her nose in everything and distracting her.

Archaeus tells Drusilla that if she wants to remain his favorite, she'll have to get things done. She promises that she will, and tells him that Nadira will either draft the Magic Town Sentience to their side -- or she'll serve equally well as bait.


The Good: It doesn't affect scoring, but the artwork in this issue seemed especially strong. I also really loved this particular cover.

I did really like the way that Angel's confidence was so quickly undercut as soon as Dru made his having a choice to fight Archaeus about her lack of choice in same because she is what he made her to be. Angel's continued guilt over Angelus' actions with Dru is a nice character trait, and I enjoy watching Dru know just how to use it.

I liked seeing Faith and Fred tapping into the police force's resources to track down Dru's hiding place, rather than trying to search the entirety of London on their own.

Loved it when Nadira reminded the vampires that she's still a Slayer underneath her new role, and the multiple dustings that come after.


The Bad: Nothing.


Other Thoughts: Fred. I just don't like the way that she's portrayed and wish that she'd fearfully exclaim a lot less over every damned vampire she encounters. She's just been through too much to still be reacting this way to run-of-the-mill fangs.

I did like that Nadira had a plan and motive for allowing herself to be captured without resistance and her dialog with Archaeus about the Magic Town Sentience. But, if this was the plan, I wish that it hadn't been written to come across as so haphazard of her. She should've clued Angel into what she wanted to do, and then had a tracking device on her rather than waiting to see if Angel and Fred were going to either kill all the vampires, or get killed by them. Either would've ruined her intent to speak to Archaeus and convince him not to interfere with the Sentience, so her "plan" still seems awfully ill-conceived.

It was interesting to have Dru feel a kinship of a sort with Nadira, and I'm sorry that we didn't have a bit more of the two of them discussing how their similar and different. It would've been more interesting if Drusilla's feelings were a bit stronger and if she'd started talking to her like they were sisters, even as she turned her over to Archaeus.


The Score 3.50 out of 5 stars



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