Angel & Faith
"Live Through This, Part 4"
Script: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (from Comicraft)
Cover B: Rebekah Isaacs & 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 for 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...
My Blurb: First, cover love. But I also want to put in a special disclaimer that one of the page-captures is drawn-and-inked-blood heavy, for those with an especial sensitivity to grue in any form.
Page 01: We open at the Fraser Gang auction where the item up for bids was some Mohra blood. Nash and Pearl have just blasted their way in through a wall with sights set on the vials of blood that Angel is also wanting as part of his plans to regenerate and then resurrect Rupert Giles.
Faith is battling off Fraser's gang and the more assertive auction-guests, all of whom would also like to grab ahold of a vial of the blood. For this reason, she can't immediately assist Angel, who is finding himself under the special scrutiny of Pearl.
Pearl is still a bit bitter about her Twilight Angel Boss almost destroying Earth with her and her brother still on it:
"Not nearly as powerful as when you gave us orders, eh, old man? How like you. You can even take the fun out of killing you."
Commentary: If Pearl continues with this sort of bored snark, I may become a fan of her. Her brother is still a problem of bore, for me, though. And, they're still using flashy-magic like there is no shortage of it these days.
Page 02: Faith has been able to break away from her former slay-partner and slashes Pearl with her sword. The wound to her side only makes her yell at Faith for being rude.
Nash steps in for his sister by yanking Faith away by her hair. He tells her that she's trash and ruining his sister's moment.
With Faith's attention redirected, he powers up his magic eyebeams and complains how after killing so many of the Slayers, it's become a bore.
Page 03: Faith's response is to punch him in the jaw, just as he's releasing his magic blast meant for her face. It travels cross-room, and into the back of Pearl's head, which stuns her.
This allows Angel to get the upper hand enough to vamp-out. He reminds Pearl that she always had wanted him to be more ruthless (while he was Twi-Angel) before sinking his fangs into her shoulder.
Page 04: This really pisses Nash off and he ignores the free Faith to blast Angel for putting his mouth on his sister (I don't know -- is there a sexual tension hovering between Nash and Pearl, despite being siblings? I can't make up my mind if they're just really close, or if they're really close).
With Angel blasted away, Pearl is recovered enough from her momentary ecstasy-rush from his bite to kick him with a heavy boot to his face. She follows up with a magic-generated blade through the side of his torso.
Page 05: With Pearl back in charge of her fight against their former boss, Nash returns to Faith. He does the usual bad guy gloat about being above everyone else, blah-blah and backhands her away with a magical assist.
But Faith was thinking ahead. She managed to slip one of the vial of Mohra blood she'd collected for Angel's plan into Nash's jacket pocket unnoticed. Well, unnoticed until now, where she "helpfully" points out to all of the auction-customer demons that he has it.
Commentary: I like this whole sequence for the artwork and dialog. I think that the creative team on this book is really clicking with one another and I hope that we're going to see them stay as a unit for a good, long while. I also really appreciate the attention to detail, here. Notice that Faith's shoulder was raked with claws in panel 1 of page 1.
Now look at Faith on panel 1, page 2; panel 2, page 2; panel 2, page 3; panel 3, page 4 (although out of scale, alas) and panel 3, page 5.
Faith's wound is consistently there, even when she's not even the center of attention. That's really paying attention to what you're doing, artwise.
Page 06: With the gang of demons deciding to take down Nash to give them all a chance at grabbing the vial and running with it (well, most -- as Faith says, the smart ones like Fraser himself are getting out of there before the magic-blaster twins slaughter the whole room), Faith calls for their own retreat. But Angel says there is a smell from the basement that they need to check into first, despite the risk of Nash and Pearl catching back up with them.
Page 07: As they're heading down, Faith is wracked with indecision about Angel and his goals. She decides that she has to make a choice finally about what she's going to do about Angel once and for all.
And she decides to smash him with the Mohra blood vial and turn him human!
With the decision made, she raises the vial to smash down over his head... but his exclamation of disappointment interrupts. Whatever Faith sees pulls her up short in shock.
Commentary: I know, I know. I'm sounding like a broken record with the praise -- but I LOVE the way Faith's ambiguity is being played in her thoughts, dialog and facial expressions. This may be my favorite version of the Faith character in the comics.
Page 08: When we see into the room beyond the door Angel just broke into, we see a laboratory setup. There are dozens of... things... great indistinct, slightly humanoid blob-creatures in various cells or strapped to tables.
Page 09: One of these, to Faith's blurting "What are they?" manages to grunt out the name Reggie Banks. These 'things' are human beings. They're the missing people who went to buy Mohra blood and then disappeared.
Faith stares at the vial in her hand, in horror presumably over the fact that she was at the edge of infecting Angel with it.
Page 10: Angel clarifies that the end of the Seed caused some sort of change to the Mohra blood. Instead of returning someone to instant health, it did that and then kept going. The healing has actually become a cancer that causes the cells of whoever has taken it to keep generating it.
Faith drops the vial to the floor with a smash.
The mutated beg Angel to help them die, as so far everything that has been tried to cure them has failed - including their own attempts at suicide or mutual murder.
They just keep healing the wounds and continuing to devolve further and further into ever more pain-filled masses of tumor.
Angel tells them he'll take care of them, but recruits their help with something first.
Commentary: I like this, too. I like that we're getting more side effects from Buffy's rash (but necessary, imo) destruction of the Seed while at the same time it nicely strips the easy and convenient way to get Giles back from Angel. Tying the two together also gives us yet another connection between Angel and Buffy's titles, which after all is the high-point of them both having their licenses with the same publisher.
Page 11: Upstairs, Nash is complaining about how bored he is slaughtering the weak demons. Pearl is enjoying herself.
Angel has led the freed prisoners upstairs, and the mutated humans are now enjoying taking out some of their rage against Nash and Pearl.
Page 12: The mutated also warns everyone about what the Mohra blood really does. Conveniently (just slightly too much so), one of the demons recognizes Reggie and also saw him take the blood personally, so he can testify that what Banks is claiming is so. This causes an end to the fight for whatever is left of the vials.
Commentary: It's also just a bit discombobulating to have a roomful of demons speaking in Brit-accent.
In the meantime, Nash and Pearl release a twin-wave of energy to blast back their attackers.
Page 13: Pearl and Nash pull a retreat, since getting anymore of the surviving blood vials is useless. But, they promise (of course) that they'll see Angel again.
With the battle wrapped up, the next task is to put the mutated out of their misery. Angel starts mass-beheading.
Page 14: Angel mentions that separating the head from the body usually works for regenerators, and it does in this case. He and Faith steel themselves to give a merciful end to all of the others, including Reggie Banks.
Page 15: In the aftermath, Angel notices Faith's upset and tells her that they wanted this. But the mutated deaths isn't what she's upset about.
He tells her that they can't hold onto guilt about what they almost did, and Faith immediately assumes that Angel realizes that she almost betrayed his quest by making him human with the blood. But, actually, he's talking about what they almost did to Giles' body by using the blood on him.
To Faith's continued consternation, Angel promises her that he'll find another way to save Rupert - meaning of course, she's left with the same decision she had thought she'd made: Help or Hinder Angel... even if it means having to put him down to stop him from maybe bringing another monster forth.
And this monster would have the face of probably the most respected person of anyone she knows.
Page 16: Meanwhile, Nash and Pearl return to Whistler's flat with the vial of blood that Faith slipped into Nash's pocket. He tells Whistler about its new, lethal effects.
But rather than being disappointed by this turn of events, Pearl excitedly tells Whistler it's even better for what they have in mind... huh!
Page 17: The next day, Faith meets up with Nadira. The Slayer is still struggling with her anger, but she takes a lot of pleasure and comfort in the news that Faith shares: Nash and Pearl are in England, and ergo hunt-able for Nadira to seek revenge for the slaughter of her Slayer-troop.
Nadira takes this with gratefulness and shocks Faith by doing the big sister hug. But then the moment is a bit ruined by Nadira promising to take Angel down after the twins and maybe finally give herself some peace of mind.
Page 18: A bit later, Faith heads out from her park meeting with Nadira. She runs into Alasdair, who she isn't happy to see keeping tabs on her whereabouts.
He's come to tell her about hearing about the fiasco with the Mohra blood and to reiterate his objections to Angel attempting to resurrect Giles. She's not really receptive, mostly because she's still feeling guilt over almost turning Angel into a mutated.
He continues to impress on her that Angel must be convinced that this errand of his is ill-conceived and will only lead to a bad place.
Commentary: It's not that I don't like Alasdair -- he's okay as a character, but I keep finding myself wishing this role were played by Laura Weathermill instead. Her short history with Angel Investigations and personal involvement with Angel would really have worked well to highten the tensions between wanting to support Angel, but wanting to stop him from making a tragic mistake and I could see a lot of juicy dialog coming between her and Faith arguing over it.
Page 19: When Faith returns to her flat, she finds Angel deep in the monk diaries looking for alternates to restore Giles' body to a usable condition. Faith confronts her own feelings by coming out into the open with Angel about what she really thinks of this deal.
Her choice: She's willing to follow along with Angel because she misses Giles, too. But there are limits to what she'll allow Angel to do in order to try this.
She warns him that if he crosses the line, in her opinion, then she'll act in whatever way she has to in order to shut him down.
Page 20: Angel admits that he knows exactly what Faith has been thinking this whole time. He tells her that this is why he needs her help, to protect him from his own obsessive tendencies. He tells her that as Twi-Angel, he didn't have someone he could trust enough for advice about when he was going too far and who also had the ability to stop him if he couldn't stop himself. He offers to let Faith off the hook though, because of the enormous responsibility for him that he's placing on her shoulders.
She wryly tells him she has his back, but she wants him to not force her to put a stake in it.
Commentary: Such great interaction. I wish we'd see more of this sort of connections going on for Buffy -- especially between her and Xan, or her and Dawn.
Page 21: Faith breaks up the moment to go prepare some leftovers for dinner. She offers Angel a mug o' blood. He declines, but opines that a spot of tea would be delightful.
Faith, at first, laughs that he sounded so much like Giles - but she gets uncomfortable when Angel wasn't doing it on purpose and didn't even notice his switch into Giles-cadence.
Page 22: She chooses not to confront that sudden weirdness just now, but goes off to make him a cup of Earl Grey with some obvious trepidation. Meanwhile, Angel stands with his latest diary and reading glasses looking a bit too much like Rupert in his stance....
The Good: Faith's dialog remains a high point for me. And now? Pearl is getting in some good zingers, too! I approve.
I really loved Faith's decision to stop Angel short by turning him into human with the Mohra blood (can't happen for the sake of the title, of course, but I really liked the way they brought Faith to the edge of doing it).
The Mohra blood's new effects were nicely depicted and I really like how it takes a quick solution to regenerating Giles' corpse off of the table for Angel.
The Bad: Not a thing.
Other Thoughts: Well, Nash and Pearl are really skirting cliche bad-guy types and they're a bit dull. Pearl is coming around by at least having a few good lines, but if these two aren't going to be strictly dayplayers, they need some more personality other than complaining about being bored and using way too much magic for their current circumstance.
Nadira is also really failing to capture my interest, despite her angst and desire for revenge. I'm not quite sure why I can't embrace her struggles.
I'm unsure how to take the ending with Angel showing Giles-personality traits, so I'm gonna leave that sit like Faith is doing for now.
The Score: This was a really strong first arc, definitely strengthened by the writing for the relationship between Angel and Faith.
3.75 out of 5
Next up: BTVS, Season 2's "I Only Have Eyes for You"