Angel & Faith #2
"Live Through This, Part 2"
Script: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt
Alternate Cover: Rebekah Isaacs, Andy Owens, Dan Jackson
Blurb: Twilight is over. Magic is gone. Giles is dead, and Angel killed him -- that is, the possessed-by-mystical-forces Angel. Now his need for redemption is greater than ever, after Buffy and everyone else have turned their backs on him -- all except one rebel Slayer with a cause, Faith Lehane. Together, in the flat she inherited from Giles, Faith and Angel are living through the aftermath of Twilight, and keeping the London streets safe from the ever-present forces of evil...
Page 01: We open with the London Slayers fighting a group of vampires on the streets. Unusually though, one of them is rabbiting with a briefcase that he's holding more valuable than trying to collect some Slayer blood. Nadira takes off after him.
Meanwhile, feet away, Faith is fighting some skeleton with horns. As she watches with one eye Nadira take off, she yells after her to wait for backup and complains to herself.
By the way, our demon is also carrying a briefcase and it appears to have nothing in it but cool, hard cash. Giles would be appalled.
Commentary: And, this is neither here nor there, but I had to try to spell 'skeleton' three times and even then I had to google it. I KNOW HOW to spell 'skeleton' damn it. Why do certain words just plain look wrong when you're typing them out? I probably spend 5 minutes of every review doing nothing but looking up words that I know I'm right spelling out, but they don't look right.
Anyway - we see here more of Faith's usual role being completely 180'd from where she was. Now, it's she that is telling other Slayers to stop running off after the bad guys without a plan and backup. Buffy would surely find this hilarious... assuming she's over Faith's staying with Angel and inheriting everything from Giles... I'm still having problems with the latter, so I wouldn't blame her if she isn't.
Page 02: Faith shouts after her to give her a sec to take care of demon guy and she'll come with. She stabs the bonehead, but gets her sword, hand and forearm froze for the effort.
Meanwhile Nadira is all "stop mother henning me" as she insists she can take care of one measly vampire. You'd hope. But, this vamp has learned a new trick -- whipping out a submachine gun! And, in England of all places!!
He opens fire, but sucks, so she's only hit in the leg and knocked off her feet.
Page 03: The vamp keeps firing wildly down the block, but Nadira has dodged behind a car for cover. He's laughing at her over her medieval weaponry, when someone in the shadows shows him a good sword and some stealth can still get the job done. We don't see who it is, but there is the swoop of a leather coat which hints that Angel has followed Faith into the fray.
Meanwhile, Faith is complaining away in her head at Nadira's being all rage and no brains (Oh, Faith... how's that shoe stuck on the other foot).
The demon tires of fighting with her as he has gotten what he's come for. He gives her a bull-type head butt to her chest.
Page 04: With Faith on the ground, the demon bids his adieu. He does leave another briefcase behind. The one that beheaded vamp was carrying.
When Nadira opens it, they find a smashed beaker of a foul, green liquid. Faith takes it with to investigate. Meanwhile, Nadira mentions her mysterious, broadsword-armed savior. Faith says she'll ask around, but her facial expressions make Nadira suspicious she already knows who else is running around London killing vampires and is avoiding addressing it.
Page 05: Faith confirms it was Angel in the alley by berating him for risking a confrontation with the other Slayers when they, particularly Nadira, wants him deader than vampire-dead. He tells her that he can't hide in the house trying to avoid everyone that wants a piece of him.
Faith turns attention to his revelations last issue that he wants to rescue Giles from the land of the dead. She reminds him that Giles didn't die a mystical death and that if a resurrection was possible he would have known about it and used it to save Cordelia when he was working for the evil law firm.
He insists it isn't that easy. He says that resurrections have always been possible, it's just that you get a zombie for the trouble. He's aiming higher at retrieving Rupert's soul.
Commentary: Yay, continuity! I love Faith mentioning Cordy's death and using it as a reason as to why Angel can't possibly save Giles. We don't know where this arc is going yet, but it's nice that they're acknowledging in story about what we learned about resurrection in the earlier Buffyverse. Logically, in a world cut off from the heavenly dimensions, it should be even more difficult - if not flat out impossible - to succeed in Angel's goal.
Page 06: Angel explains the difference between dying from a mystical cause and dying by a 'human' one. It's a matter of the soul moving on after a physically caused death, while the soul can be bound by the magic used to kill the body in a mystical one. Angel goes on to explain that parts of Giles are in every magical thing he interacted with while a physical being and Watcher.
Faith is shocked at Angel's insinuation that he can pull Giles back together from these various objects. She angrily asks if he plans on digging him up next. When he replies "Not until I have to", she's had enough and goes to storm out on him.
Commentary: The only part that I'll take a small exception to, is Angel calling Rupert a 'warlock'. Technically, I guess that could be so since Giles clearly could cast spells but the word - to me - has a connotation of a more advanced user than I think of Giles as. A warlock, to me, indicates someone whose life was centered on magic... like Roden and Rayne. It's a curious word to use in relation to Rupert and feels like it may have been used on purpose just to remind us that he did access magic so Angel's plan has a shot, rather than being a word that anyone in-universe who knew Giles would use to describe him.
Page 07: Angel stops her and tells her that he knows how crazy the whole thing sounds and that he sounds like he may be losing it, but he insists with Giles' help (from his Watchers Files), he can work this.
Faith is unconvinced, to say the least. But, she also remembers how Angel was the one who stood by her when she was in the middle of her own crash and burn after everyone else had written her off. She wonders if she could really call herself a friend if she left him to drown now....
Commentary: I also love Faith's thoughts here. She doesn't want to do this, but she does feel a need to stay by Angel's side if for no other reason than to make sure he doesn't get lost. I really like that she refers back to "Five by Five" and "Sanctuary" in Angel's first season. I would count these two episodes (as well as the preceding Buffy episodes of her Buffy-body swap) as a few of the most important episodes for her character.
Page 08: Angel turns away and tells her he understands why she wants no part of his attempt, but she tells him she'll be his wingman... though she doesn't look very reconciled to the whole plan.
Page 09: Angel takes Faith to a demonic fight club to check in with a contact. The contact is friendly enough, until Angel starts asking questions about his boss' operation.
Page 10: Faith jumps the gun a bit by trying to strongarm the contact into sharing. This only, as could be predicted -- not so far from Nadira, still huh Faith? -- starts a brawl.
Page 11: During the brawl, Kurth the contact makes a run for it. Angel assures Faith it's all part of the master plan. This comes as news to her, as she didn't even know there was a plan.
A bit later and she snarks that the plan involved their being beaten to bruises to make them blend into the night easier and pronounces it the best plan ever.
He tells her it worked. Kurth thinks he made a clean getaway, but he's heavily bleeding and Angel's smell-detection can track this particular species of demon without any trouble over extensive distances.
Commentary: I want to give a shout out here to the dialog and writing. It's really pretty funny and Gage is perfectly capturing Faith's smartassness. It's also nice to see Angel in the spirit of things and returning his straight-faced gibes right back. These two make a really good pair as co-stars, and it just makes me wish so badly that we'd seen more of Faith and Giles as a comparison. WHERE THE HELL IS THAT LIMITED SERIES?
Page 12: Faith and Angel track Kurth to the boneheaded demon Faith had fought earlier, who gets a name: Baphon.
He begs Baphon to help him with his injury (Angel had torn off his third arm from his back).
Page 13: Baphon gives Kurth some magic juice which allows his arm to regenerate. Watching, Angel informs Faith that they're using a vial of Mohra Blood, which is capable of regenerating any organ or tissue (also a discovery from Angel, Season One).
Page 14: On the rooftop, Angel gives Faith a very sketchy history about how he knows about Mohra Blood and what it can do (Angel's "I Will Remember You" where Angel became human again briefly and reconnected with Buffy before the whole thing had to be undone to save her).
He points to this Blood as to how they're going to regenerate Giles' body once they get his soul. He asks her to stand with him, again.
Commentary: Although, technically, I can't help but think that what Angel is trying to do is actually to create a copy of Rupert Giles. He's trying to collect imprints of the Giles that was, regenerate his dead body, and place this carbon copy of his soul into it. I'm almost ready to withdraw my complaint of undoing Giles' death if they'd be willing to explore how the copy of Giles isn't actual-Giles and having that lead to complications and developments. ALMOST -- one of the things I hate most about fiction is the "Death is Cheap" trope. It's why I dropped Marvel Comics -- they really pissed me off by resurrecting Jean Grey after her stellar exit in the Dark Phoenix Saga.
I don't want to see them ruin Giles' shocking death the same way, by just blowing it off by undoing it.
Page 15: Faith's answer is to join Angel crashing through a skylight into Baphon's lair.
Page 16: With the two going on the offensive, they quickly render Baphon powerless thanks to information Angel gleaned about him from Giles' diaries.
Meanwhile, Faith is thinking to herself about how energized Angel looks now that he has a purpose again. And, the fact that he seems happy to have someone to share it with. It's clear though that Faith is only humoring him at the moment and remains highly skeptical of his ultimate aim.
Page 17: Angel tries to fight a 'flammable gas' demon, but mentions to Faith that the only thing the files had on it was to perform a vague banishment spell. Faith tells him to stop depending so heavily on the "rulebook". She tosses her lighter at the demon...
Page 18: ... which yes, does a nice job on its flammable body.
Unfortunately, it also does a good job of setting the table on fire where the Mohra Blood is sitting. A table that was knocked over by the creature's flailing, smashing the blood's flask on top of it.
Angel puts it down as a temporary loss, for clearly there is a Mohra somewhere around that is supplying the blood.
Page 19: Angel puts the squeeze on the powerless, but alive Baphon to reveal where the Mohra is located. He offers to spill everything he knows since he also realizes that making a run for it from his Fraser Gang bosses is the only way he has a chance of living now. He's hoping Angel will give them enough distraction to allow him to get away.
In the meantime, Faith is feeling guilty about pretending to go along with Angel's plan. Secretly, she feels that they can't bring Giles back -- because he told her that himself.
Page 20: Flashback - Faith and Giles in his flat.
Rupert was addressing the idea of resurrecting a human being from a "natural death" because Faith was asking about it. She wanted to know if she could undo a death she'd caused. Rupert is sympathetic to her guilt, but insists that the deputy mayor's death wasn't completely out-of-line, since he was knowingly consorting with the Mayor and his plans.
Faith tells him she barely thinks about Finch. It's Professor Worth's murder she wants badly to undo.
Commentary: I LOVE THIS. I think that the poor professor's death was pretty much forgotten by everyone (as Faith spotlights here) because of the Mayor's huge arc and the accidental stabbing of the Deputy Mayor being the catalyst for Faith's slide off the slope. But to me, it was always Worth where she completely became the bad guy not worth saving anymore. In spanderverse, I included a confrontation between Faith and the Professor's sister while she's in prison. Here, they use Faith's keeping tabs on Professor Worth's daughter who still visits the Sunnydale crater to leave flowers for her father.
It's very nice that Gage also remembers her murder of an entirely innocent victim with no ties to anything supernatural, except a chance discovery of a "dinosaur" on a dig.
Page 21: The flashback continues with Giles telling her that they can't undo the evil they've done onto others (and one can't help but think he's referring to his actions with Eyghon) but that they can atone for them by focusing on acting for the good of others now as a counterbalance.
In the present, Faith's thoughts (while Angel is still questioning Baphon in the background) turn toward Angel's trying to undo what he's done. She offers the opinion that with all of the good he's done over two lifetimes and the number of times he's saved the world, he's already made up for what he did to Giles before he even did it as Twilight. But, she also knows he'll never buy that unless she somehow forces it on him.
Commentary: This opinion of Faith's is very in character, but it's also very disturbing. There are some very unfortunate echoes to Faith's justifying how Deputy Mayor Finch's death at her hands wasn't a big deal because of the number of lives she and Buffy had already saved that already put them in "the plus column". [And note how Faith was trying to usurp Buffy's saving the world as partially her own deeds through their Slayer bond, which was always particularly aggregiously self-serving -- but even putting that aside, her expressed opinion here seems like a throwback to that Faith.]
I'm not sure how to take this, because it's coming as an almost direct counterpoint to her flashback conversation with Giles in which she clearly didn't believe any longer that the lives she saved somehow innoculated her from the life - Professor Worth's - that she took. Is this just because she's being forgiving of another -- would she still express this opinion about herself if she kills another person on accident, or while under some influence?
I'm not sure if the unfortunate implication just wasn't thought of while this was written, or if this is a "forgive my friend" thing that she'd never be able to extend to herself under the same circumstances because of her own past.
Page 22: Elsewhere, there is another couple who is interested in the miracle Mohra Blood. Unfortunately for Kurth.
Our other players are the already met bit of unpleasantness, Nash and Pearl.
To get his cooperation is taking him to the Mohra, Nash relieves Kurth of an arm again... and Pearl indicates it's only the start if he refuses.
The Good: The writing, and especially the thoughts of Faith and her dialog with Angel.
I especially really like the conflict within Faith over Angel's audacious plan.
No effect on scoring, but I really like the art team of Rebekah & Dan.
I also like the callbacks to both Faith and Angel's histories.
The Bad: Nuthin' rankled.
Other Thoughts: I will say here though that I hope Nash & Pearl will be limited in their appearances. They're both a bit too over the top and the way they "spend" magic like there isn't a shortage is a bit annoying. If you went to the trouble of cutting off magical regenerating itself, then even those who are tapping magic from within themselves should be running into problems with supply, you'd think. It has to be coming from somewhere.
The Score: I really like the writing and I'm getting involved in Angel's plot to resurrect Rupert, even if I am ambiguous to not leaving him alone.
4.0 outta 5 stars
-- Next Review: Movie Review - "Teenage Zombies" from 1959.