Angel & Faith
not s9, but s7 - Issue 9
"Daddy Issues, p4"
Script: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: While keeping the streets of London safe, Angel and Faith struggle with their sin-filled pasts. For now, Faith finds some peace in guiding a group of Slayers - one of whom has a lethal grudge against Angel. With reluctant assistance from Faith, Angel seeks to undo his greatest sin and resurrect Giles from a natural death... somehow... in a world without magic.
Page 01: We open on Faith getting her emotional trauma removed to feed Drusilla's Lorophage Demon so that she can stop feeling so guilty about her past, betrayed and used by her father, and driven to shocking violence by her deep seated anger.
Angel is not onboard with this. And he feels the need to butt in.
He charges into the church and kicks the Lorophage away from Faith, insisting that she not do it.
Commentary: I'm all on- board with disagreeing with Faith on this way out, but I'm also kinda annoyed with Angel for the way he just charges in and starts violently objecting. It doesn't seem like this is his call, but on the other hand, I don't want Faith taking this path either. Ah, what to do - what to do - I'm not sure whose side I should come in on with this.
Page 02: Angel insists to Faith that she's not the person who runs away from what she's done anymore and she shouldn't let her father take her back to that. He tells her that she has to live with her past.
Drusilla, who had been holding back the demon, replies that in fact she doesn't. She accuses Angel (echoing Harmony's sentiments) that he enjoys his torment but that Faith isn't obligated to do so. She further asks Faith to inform Angel how she feels now that her trauma pain has been taken.
Faith replies that she feels great.
Page 03: Faith revels in not caring anymore about the Mayor's manipulation, or her father's constant disappointment, or all of those things she did back in Sunnydale. She remembers all of it, but she doesn't hurt over it anymore.
Angel asks her what else she's lost. He brings up Professor Worth - one of the driving forces behind her trying to be a better person. Faith gives it some thought, but shrugs it off -- she isn't in pain over that anymore either. This really bothers Angel.
Page 04: He next tells Faith that his own crushing guilt is what keeps him striving to never do the things that Angelus did again. He tells her that his striving to be stronger is what allows Angelus to remain locked away. He next turns on her for taking a shortcut, and tells her that the broken woman in L.A. when she tortured Wes and tried to get Angel to kill her is the person who'd he would've expected to cheat her way to penance - not the woman he'd come to know.
He tells Faith that this shortcut didn't make her better, it made her less.
Commentary: I like Angel's speech on this page, but man is it really harsh. I can't decide if he's really this upset or if he's trying to provoke a response from her. Drusilla is about to interrupt, so we can't know for sure but I do suspect that it's a little of both. His angry disappointment is palpable, but I think that telling her she's made herself less was just to get her to consider reversing what she's done, as he's about to discuss with Dru.
Page 05: Drusilla steps in to remind Angel that not everyone has his love for self-flagellation. Faith also points out that even if she wanted all of that pain back, what's done is done.
Angel demands from Dru whether the Lorophage could reverse the process, which Dru blows off with a non-answer. Angel pushes for a yes or no, and Dru glares at him.
Page 06: Drusilla decides enough of that talk, and launches herself at Angel. She accuses Angel of wanting to force everyone to be just like himself, a shattered and helpless thing.
Drusilla, without her insanity, is quite a fighter. Using her flexibility, her nails and a candle stand, she's able to disarm Angel of his sword.
Page 07: Dru is able to back Angel to her chair, raking him with her nails across the chest. She shouts that none of them will be broken like they were again, but Angel tells her that she's just managed to break her followers in a different way. He tosses her away into a table, at which point the Lorophage punches him out.
Page 08: While wrestling with the Lorophage and the humans that are Dru's followers, she's able to overpower him from behind.
Faith half-heartedly objects, and Dru tells her that they're just going to fix him so that he'll finally be happy as well. Angel brings up that he thought she always gave people a choice, but Dru tells him that he made his choice, but it was the wrong one.
Angel looks to Faith as the Lorophage begins to drive his nails into Angel's head.
Page 09: Angel resists the Lorophage, but he's brought down by the group and Dru's vampire strength to the floor. Drusilla continues telling Faith that Angel is broken and will never stop torturing himself. She tells her that he's not right in the head and needs to be helped for his own good.
As the Lorophage begins driving its nails into Angel's head, Faith turns away.
Page 10: Angel continues to struggle to hold onto his pain, ignoring Dru's plea for him to let go.
Faith, coming to her senses, finally strikes out at Drusilla - allowing Angel to twist out of the others' grip and stopping the process. Dru turns on Faith for being an ungrateful wretch. Faith accuses Dru of just using her, the way everyone has... except Angel.
She grabs up Angel's sword and a table leg, manuevering herself back to back with him and handing off the sword.
Page 11: Dru rages at Faith that she made her better, like she did for everyone there. Dru insists that Angel saved her from a useless life and a useless death when he made her what she is and now she's going to do the same for him. She owes him the chance of happiness being the vampire he should have always been.
Meanwhile, Angel finds that the Lorophage skin cannot be penetrated by swords as the blade shatters. He finds himself once again with the demon's claws raking at his forehead for purchase.
Page 12: But, Angel is able to wrestle the Lorophage's arm around and back into its own skull. He apologizes to Drusilla for what he's about to do to her.
Commentary: I really liked all of these pages. I loved the arguments between sane-Dru and Angel over what the Lorophage was doing to people, and I liked that you really can see where Drusilla isn't completely wrong at offering broken people the chance to stop feeling like they're drowning in their own brokenness. Especially since she knows exactly what they've been suffering. Her motives here aren't evil in themselves, and they're not completely selfish (although there is certainly a fair amount of that -- it's clear that Dru was enjoying her sycophants and being 'Mother Superior' to them).
But she crossed that line where a soulless being can't be entirely altruistic under the best of circumstances when she decided that come hell or high water, Angel was going to be "helped".
I also liked the way that the Lorophage is being dispatched, since they seemingly made sure that no weapon was going to do the job.
Page 13: With the Lorophage's claws embedded in its own head, and with it primed to pull Angel's trauma from him, it begins draining itself.
This basically brain-kills it, and more tragically, returns the insane that it drained from others. All of the recently de-trauma-d get their horror back... including Drusilla who pleads with Angel not to drive her mad again.
Commentary: I'm not really liking this ending. First, the trauma 'leaking out' and returning to its 'owner' strikes me as ridiculous as a plot point. Surely the thing would just destroy its own brain and then it'd die and that would be that. This strikes me as a blatant case of "Status Quo Is God", rather than a sensible outcome - especially since this didn't appear to be magic that could be reversed, but was a natural, physical talent of the demon.
But also, in last issue's review, I expressed my interest in seeing Drusilla as sane and even maybe an ongoing guest player in the title. It's really bumming out that this isn't going to happen now, as we hit a reset button.
Page 14: Drusilla equates the insane thoughts in her mind to eels. But, then she switches on a dime and actually hugs Angel and thanks him for 'saving her'.
Page 15: Dru -- in her babble-way -- tells Angel that the world before was all hard and cold, but now its filled with possibilities.
But Angel isn't paying attention to her now, because Faith is struggling with her own deep pain. He tries to see to her, but Faith slaps him away. He apologizes for what he had to do, but claims that she had a part of her stolen. Faith agrees, but she's angry and tells him that she just needs him to leave her the hell alone for a while so she can deal with it.
Page 16: Meanwhile, the human and fellow vampire followers of Drusilla are also getting their own traumas back in place. And, they are pissed at what is happening to them. They immediately and rightly blame Angel and Faith .
Page 17: While the two 'heroes' try to fight off the newly re-traumatized, without hurting them (huh - even including the vampires who are definitely strong enough to inflict some serious death) Angel tries to reason with Drusilla to use her influence as their Mother Superior cult leader to call them off. Angel insist to Dru that he can still find a way to help her.
But Drusilla is in tears over the uncontrolled visions that are assaulting her. She calls Angel a "poor thing" and tells him there isn't even enough help for him, let alone her. She references a vision she's gotten of the future and warns Angel that something awful is coming for both of them.
Page 18: Dru rushes away from the church, telling Angel that everyone is torn apart and ghosts from the past are coming to get him.
She offers that they're all of them alone, now.
Page 19: Meanwhile Angel and Faith retreat up a set of stairs to the church roof to escape the enraged followers. Faith calls them pathetic, but Angel is sympathetic to their pain. Faith has her own, of course, and just snots at him, glaring, "Cry me a river".
Page 20: From the rooftops, Faith and Angel watch the followers stream out into the streets still looking for some payback on them.
They take off. Angel shares with Faith that her going to Dru wasn't really her, but was her father. He offers that sometimes when the past comes back and slaps you in the face, you revert to old patterns.
Faith takes no comfort in this.
Page 21: Faith cuts off further discussion about it, by turning attention to Angel's chest where she spotted a glow while he was killing the Lorophage. She reminds him that being uneducated doesn't make her stupid, and she figures that he absorbed a piece of past!Giles when the demon bought it.
Angel confirms what he's been up to as far as collecting bits of Giles. He's wearing a nipple piercing that is helping him absorb the bits of Rupert left behind in his plan to bring back the murdered Watcher.
Page 22: With their experience just past, Faith tells Angel that she's seen how he doesn't give up on people. She decides she won't either, so she's now fully on board his crazy plan to resurrect Giles, whatever it takes to try....
Commentary: Which, I'm not. I'm still of the mind that if you kill off a major character, you should stick to your guns and leave them dead. Don't take that step, if you're not prepared to see it through [with obvious exceptions for title characters -- after all it can't be Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if Buffy isn't involved]. But, it's apparent that Rupert Giles will be coming back in some form, so we'll just have to see how they deal with it when we finally reach the conclusion of this subplot.
The Good: I really liked the ambiguity between Angel, Drusilla and Faith over the Lorophage Demon and whether it can be the right thing to end one's emotional turmoil in order to move on via the creature.
Even though it appears that Faith thinks Angel made the right call in ending the demon's life, and giving the pain back to her, I like that they allowed her to be pissed at Angel for it.
I also really liked seeing Drusilla as something other than the evil nutcase vampire. Her fate as the Lorophage dies is really bleak.
The Bad: Nothing.
Other Thoughts: Okay, I'm really not on-board with Faith not just staking the vampire members of Dru's congregation - justified anger over their fates, or no -- who is to say they won't turn that soulless rage on innocent people when they don't find our twosome?
I'm also a bit bothered (just a little) at the reset button ending. I really wanted to see a sane Drusilla struggle with tempering her impulses and trying to "fight on the side of the angels" for awhile and now we've lost the opportunity to develop a new side to the character.
The Score: It was an enjoyable issue, filled with some great artwork (again) and some interesting discussion over owning one's pain, or taking a shortcut to relieve oneself of the turmoil. I was disappointed by returning Drusilla to status quo, but I still enjoyed the dialog and how Dru was played sympathetically throughout the arc, including - mostly - in this issue.
3.50 out of 5 stars
Next Up: BTVS, S9, I8