Angel and Faith
"Live Through This, Part 3"
Script: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (from Comicraft)
Cover B: Rebekah Isaacs with 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 on Angel's quest to retrieve a sample of Mohra blood to be used to regenerate Giles' corpse. For this goal, he and Faith have invaded a demon-hood's bar, where by the way - one of those damned popular vampires is freely feeding on some idiot woman over cocktails.
Angel warns that he and Faith will tear up the place to find the blood and bar-hood happily tells him that'd be great for business.
Page 02: Demon-hood tells 'em that the floor show would bring in the crowd.
Faith tosses a demon trying to get in the way of her reaching Demon-hood over the bar where he smashes the glassware. He offers that the floor show would have a point of diminishing returns, re-thinking Angel's lure of busting the place up.
He also warns Faith that selling bits of magic in his demon bar isn't illegal yet, but her smashing the place up is. He'll have her arrested. She slyly points out that killing demons is a legal grey area, yet and he looks to be at least half.
Page 03: He transforms into a bat-winged form and makes a sexual innuendo about his girth below the belt. She offers to reduce its size for him with her sword.
Before things can escalate into a life or death battle, Angel calls her off. The Mohra blood isn't there, or he'd have scented it by now.
Demon-hood offers that he can't blame Angel for trying to find the blood -- it'd be an instant fortune maker for whoever had the Mohra under wraps. In the meantime, he does offer Angel a job as a bloodsucker-for-pay, which our vampire studiously ignores while our Slayer throws glares.
Commentary: I've really liked Gage's writing over the last few issues and here I got a kick out of Faith and Demon-hood's posturing banter at one another.
Page 04: Having retreated, Faith is a bit miffed at being stake-blocked. Angel explains that he's setting up Demon-hood. He knows now that the Mohra subject was brought up, his patrons will be throwing money at him to collect some for them, and Demon-hood is far too greedy to let such an opportunity pass by. He'll find out where Fraser is for them.
Faith is still annoyed that Angel isn't giving her a heads up on his plans of action, but he shares that he'd do so if his plans weren't coming together off-the-cuff at the last minute.
She asks him if he's tempted to just keep the Mohra blood himself, so he can regenerate to human again.
Page 05: Angel and Faith discuss his need to do things a human never could. To Faith's suggestion that without Hellmouth-related apocalypses anymore, maybe he's entitled to a little human life - which was to be his reward anyway at some point in the future.
Angel alludes to the Shanshu Prophecy being off the table (he gave it up in S5 of AtS in order to get an in with The Circle of the Black Thorn) and besides, he says, he already knows that a reward isn't what he has coming, a stake through the heart is. But until that happens, he has too much work to do.
Page 06: As Angel and Faith are tearing up demon hangouts, using the same ploy as with Demon-hood to get the word out and use the underworld connections to help locate where The Fraser Gang are holding up, Faith is considering forcing the Mohra blood on Angel.
It'd be the easiest way to get Angel out of the life, and stop him from trying this destructive obsession with "saving" Rupert.
Commentary: I'm really, really happy with the way that Christos Gage is handling Faith's character. This ongoing conflict within her in regards to Rupert's fate and allowing Angel to try it, or to stop him, is very interesting to me.
Page 07: Angel's next step is to track down and speak to some people who've already had dealings with Fraser and received samples of the Mohra blood for their loved ones who needed it.
Page 08: Much later, our duo compare notes. It seems that only a few people who were to receive the Mohra blood can be accounted for. There are more who went to collect the blood they paid for and vanished into thin air. Faith offers that there is a scam going on... give the real thing out to a few clients to spread the word, then bilk the rest for their money -- which would make sense, as surely there isn't enough Mohra available to serve the sort of demand that it is creating.
Angel offers that they're at a dead end, because the Watchers Files isn't offering a lot in the case of the Mohra and what it does have is seemingly contradictory as far as he can understand. He tells her that they need someone more specialized... like Giles....
But, he does have someone else they can reach out too. Another ex-Watcher who is in the Files and lives in the London area.
Commentary: Let me just say here that I was really hoping that Laura Weathermill was going to be ported-over from IDW's Angel series, because Lord knows I do love building connections within the various titles across that pesky copyright crap.
And just as a curious aside, since I am so interested in building connections -- in the whole discussion of Rupert Giles' regeneration, all I can keep thinking is that Giles should have been cremated to keep this sort of thing from happening, and you'd think it would be standard procedure for Watchers to have in their wills [See "Supernatural"].
Page 09: They drop in on Alasdair Coames, who fought in something called "The Ley Line War" of 1978.
Alasdair offers that if they've come seeking an archmage, they're to be disappointed. His magic was cut off the same as most witches and wizards when the Seed was shattered and the dimensional portals slammed shut.
Now, he's (in his own words) just a doddering old fool with a house full of rubbish and dreary stories of days gone by. And fairies and a dragon living with him! Hey that counts for something, amIright??
Commentary: Clearly though, he needs to talk to all of these various hangers-on about doing some housework to earn their keep.
Page 10: Angel and Coames consult on how to locate the Mohra demon and Alasdair mentions that Mohra's will need a lot of salt to eat.
Page 11: As Angel and Faith are leaving Coames' place, and Angel is - of course - angsting (this time over human mystics suddenly becoming powerless, Coames is in the same boat as Willow, but far less whining about it), Faith receives a call from the London Slayer team. Daphne is on the other end of the line and Faith ditches Angel to deal with a problem that she describes as "female problems".
According to the last panel, these problems appear to be Nadira smashing some soccer fans' noses in with bar stools.
Page 12: When Faith arrives, Daphne shares that Nadira came in looking for a fight and picked one over nothing. They're not able to get to her to stop the madness without having to bust up some of the guys who also aren't in the mood to stop brawling. Faith just grins that she'll handle it.
She does this by calling out in her loudest voice to the guys in the room - and it appears that she's going to lift her top and put on a flash for 'em, but actually she was just reaching below panel level to lift up some mugs of beer. She tells them all that there is drinks on the house and everyone immediately ditches the fight with Nadira for the free booze. This allows Daphne and Red-Head to manhandle Nadira out.
Faith confronts Nadira about the stunt.
Page 13: At first Nadira is just pissed at the world, but she finally calms down enough to realize what damage she could have done to the normals in the bar.
Faith blows it off as just itching for a fight and not finding any vampires breaking the "no kill" rules.
Page 14: Nadira is worried about her attitudes, feelings and choices lately and broaches the subject of just walking away from Slayer-activities before she does something dumb she can't take back. Faith's been in this position, of course, where she didn't even try to come back and tells her that it's her choice and she has to do what she feels is right for her.
This isn't exactly the answer the Slayers were looking for, as they're all looking for some sort of orders to come down from on high about what they should do and it's obvious that Nadira isn't the only one struggling now that Buffy isn't the head of an army and handing down instructions.
But Faith has to cut this discussion short, because she notices that Alasdair has been following her, and she's not pleased.
Page 15: At first, Faith thinks he's up to something underhanded. Alasdair's actual reason for following her though was so that he'd be able to speak to her outside of Angel's hearing.
He, being an ex-Watcher and experienced warlock, has put the pieces together from several rumors and Angel's questions about the Mohra that Angel intends to attempt a resurrection of Rupert Giles. Faith tries to blow him off, but he's a Watcher at heart... and they're stubborn. He tells her in no uncertain terms that attempting such magic while the world is basically defenseless is a really bad plan and Angel should give it up immediately.
He can see Faith's doubts about Angel's plan and councils her to press Angel to stop before he goes too far.
Faith cracks a bit under all of the pressure of trying to be responsible for the doubting Slayers, and now for wrestling with deciding whether to stand with Angel after everything he's done for her or to follow Alasdair's advice and put the kibosh on things.
Commentary: I'm so happy with the way that Faith is being portrayed in this title and I really love her being our 'audience surrogate' ... or at least mine, because I'm having the same ambiguous feelings about this whole thing as she. In-universe, this just seems like a phenomenally poor and dangerous plan to assuage Angel's conscience about Twilight.
Outside 'in-universe', I'm more concerned about the revolving door of death that comics generally have that cheapens it.
Page 16: Later, Faith has rejoined Angel and they're infiltrating an auction being carried out by Fraser for the Mohra blood. She's worried about being spotted, but Angel tells her to just stay clear of Fraser and he'll never know they're actually there until they've got the Mohra in custody.
As they wait, Faith starts spreading seeds of mistrust that Fraser's auction is playing level with everyone and isn't running a scam.
Page 17: Fraser starts the opening bids, but thanks to Faith, one of the auction goers shouts out that he's heard all night that this is a ruse. He demands some type of proof that the vials of Mohra blood up for auction are the genuine article.
Fraser politely accepts this challenge and roles out the Mohra demon, itself. It is bound to a magic rock with mystic energy strands and has been tapped with needles filling plasma-bags. Fraser offers that this should calm any doubts.
Faith and Angel share glances at one another.
Page 18: Angel and Faith leap into action with the goal of freeing the Mohra, which they're able to do. Of course, that still leaves getting out of the room with him.
Page 19: And leaving becomes a bit impossible when the Mohra chooses suicide via self-destroying the gem in his head over tempting recapture.
This, obvs, is not exactly what Angel was planning. Of course, there are still those vials of Mohra blood that were up for auction. Now, all they have to do is grab 'em and then fight their way through an entire room for of potential bidders who have the same thought and Fraser's gang who are clearly wondering how everything went so wrong so fast.
Commentary: I love the facial expressions of the artwork, especially for Angel and Faith but really for everyone. Rebekah Isaacs clearly has an interest and talent for expression through her subjects eyes and it is always easy to see what the characters' moods are without any text. It's really good.
Page 20: With the mob rush to the Mohra blood vial table, Faith grabs up two vials of the stuff while the rest is seemingly lost to being smashed all the floor. That's what happens when everyone is shoving each other against it, I guess.
Angel, seeing his plans in only a little less disarray than Fraser, opines to Faith that things couldn't have possibly gone worse.
Page 21: Yah. Dumb Angel Testing Fate, Who Always Wants To Prove You Wrong.
As a wall explodes inward, Faith, Angel, Fraser, his gang and the auction attenders are suddenly faced with a pair of newly interested in what was for auction - and they have the same plan as Angel and Faith; Skip the auction and go straight for the theft.
It's those violent psychopaths with the vast reserves of magical strength - Nash and Pearl. And they are ever so happy to see their former patron, Twi-Angel reduced to Vampire-Angel. It makes him look much easier to kill.
Angel pleads to let them him explain why he ultimately betrayed them:
Page 22: Vamp!Face Angel: You're psychotic bastards. And you need to be put down.
Commentary: Yes, I did find that awesome and ergo the quotage.
As Angel begins his fight with his former minions, Faith is working on thinning out Fraser's demon gang members. But, unknown to Angel, she's also made her decision in seeing more evidence in her face of Angel's talent for creating monsters.
Faith VO: For two hundred and fifty years, he's been creating monsters... Drusilla, Spike... worse. Then having to deal with them. That stops now. I'm gonna help him get rid of these monsters. Then I'll get rid of one myself. Him.
Commentary: That's a nice ending, eh?
The Good: Faith, on every page -- well, okay, the writing for Faith.
The artwork (no impact on scoring) is awesome -- especially when it comes to facial expressions and the way people glance at one another.
I'm really enjoying Faith's struggles to "play the adult", when she's so used to having someone else restraining her impulsive behavior instead.
The Bad: Nothin' bad in this one.
Other Thoughts: I really liked Angel returning to his series' roots by turning to investigation to track down information.
It was also pretty cute to include the Fairie Folk from BTVS #5 among the mystical beings calling Alasdair's place home these days.
I also liked the fractures we're seeing among the Slayers in London over their role in the new world. It gives us much more information about why so many of the Slayers are pissed at Buffy over the sudden change in the status quo she made than Buffy's own title has ever tried to articulate. Maybe Andrew should take a peek at Christos' implications here and incorporate them into Simone's rants against Buffy to clarify it more over there.
The only bit of weakness of this one is the dramatic entrance of Nash and Pearl -- in which they are still somehow able to waste mystical energy without any seeming consequence whatsoever. I'm having trouble understanding their motives if the 'no-magic' isn't affecting them at all. If anything, doesn't that give them a leg up and make them de facto big-bads, where before they were stuck in Twilight's shadow? Their dialog suggests maybe they were true Twilight believers, and if so, I think I need that to be made a bit more plain as to their thirst for vengeance over just enjoying their elevated status.
Technically, I guess I'm also iffy on Giles not being cremated - along with all Watchers - as a matter of policy just because they all know what can happen to the dead with magical manipulations. You'd think being turned into a undead victim would be a concern, but I can also see where some either wouldn't worry about it, or would want the possible 'out' after the end, or would simply have personal or religious objections to the practice so I can let it slide.
The Score: I'm really liking this first story arc of the title. This issue is really good because of the flashes of Vampire Detective harkening back to Angel's L.A. stint and the dialog. I've been very happy with the Angel/Faith team up.
3.75 out of 5 stars
Next Review: Angel & Faith, Issue 4