Angel & Faith, Issue 10
"Women Of A Certain Age"
Script: Christos Gage, Art: Chris Samnee, Colors: Jordie Bellaire, Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (Comicraft)
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 Angel and Faith returning to the flat from their adventure with Drusilla. Angel has apparently been pestering Faith on if she's really okay after he forced her inner pain back on her by killing the Lorophage Demon that she'd fed it to... not to mention some really harsh words at her for making that choice. She's tired of talking about their fee-fees.
As they reach the doorway, Angel informs her that somebody is inside. They decide to kick in the door and shock whoever it is.
Commentary: I like that we're picking up virtually where we left off, but I'm also a little bummed by Faith cutting off any further discussion, as is her way. It would have been interesting to hear her side of things about her choice to go to the Lorophage. We know that she accepts that killing the demon was the right thing, but we also saw a bit of anger on her part at Angel over forcefully reversing her decision to dump her heartache. It would've been nice to have a few more panels of Faith riding that line between her anger at him, and her believing he was right after all.
Page 02: In the sitting room of the flat, they find two women waiting for them and partaking of Rupert's wine. Both immediately strike one as being socialites.
Commentary: I don't like this page. It's not really the artwork in itself that I don't like, but the page layout is too crowded with elements, and I don't like the title style. It all feels too cramped and busy.
Page 03: These two women turn out to be Giles' great aunts, Lavinia and Sophronia (Sophie). Faith is a bit put off, as she was under the impression that Giles' relatives were all dead and the two "aunts" are acting like they own the place. They point out that they were mentioned in Rupert's will under "all occupants of the country home". Faith had taken that to be referring to the horses (lol).
Page 04: The great aunts are mystics and therefore don't look much older than their portraits with Rupert as a child. Angel broaches the subject about Giles' fate, but Lavinia is aware of Giles' death and has already forgiven Angel for what he's done. She tells him that when you live by magic, you're likely to die by it and whatever mystical problem led Angel to kill Rupert, he accepted long before that he'd probably die in the line of duty.
Faith tells Lavinia that of course, she and Sophie are welcome to the house but they'll have to try to stay out of one another's way. But, she starts to tell Faith that they're not just dropping by for a casual visit.
Her further explanation is interrupted by the already broken door being taken off its hinges by a large reptilian-humanoid.
Page 05: The croc-man is a demon, of course. And he's there to collect on some sort of debt from Lavinia involving her life and her soul.
Angel slams him over the head with the door, but this gets him a near-facefull of flames.
Page 06: As Angel swings around to grab croc-man by the tail, Faith shoves a sword up through his lower jaw and skewers his tongue. Lavinia and Sophie turn out, despite their magical prowess, to be useless when it comes to fighting. They've been using their entire magical powers on staying young and beautiful.
Page 07: Angel and Faith, though, have been at this game for a long while and they've been partnered for several months at this stage. They know how each thinks, so they put a plan in motion that ends with the demon's head separated from its torso.
Obvs, Faith is angry about them leading their problems to their doorstep.
Lavinia tells Faith that she had promised the demon her life and soul upon the day she got her first grey hair... a day that was destined to never come, thanks to the magic. But, of course, with magic's absence....
Page 08: Lavinia and Sophie feel that since Angel is the one to cause the lack of magic, he should be the one to clean up the mess that its made for them. Angel denies, unusually, responsibility for this one.
Faith points out they killed their demon, so they can leave now. But, apparently Sophie and Lavinia had made the same deal for various ridiculous favors (the dead demon had given them some mystical anti-cellulite cream) a lot, since they weren't ever going to have to pay up.
Apparently croc-man wasn't the only one who had traced where they were going, as Faith's leg is nearly grabbed by a tentacle before Angel hacks it off.
Page 09: Outside the flat, Faith and Angel are confronted by a veritable army of demons coming to collect on the debts that the women incurred with their shallow deals.
Faith asks them if Giles hated them as much as she does, and Lavinia offers he probably hated them more.
Commentary: And obvs, this is supposed to be played for comedy, but it's more Komedy than actually funny. I fear we're going to be stuck with these stereotypes for a while and I dread them. Angel & Faith really didn't need to have a Twiki in the cast, and now we've got two.
Page 10: The demons have apparently worked out with themselves in the meantime which order they'll be collecting because they don't fight one another but face down Angel and Faith to get to the two women one by one.
First is a Mucoid, which Lavinia bitches about because our heroes demand she get some salt from the kitchen to drive it off.
Next is a giant spider that offers them the meaty parts, if they'll just give him the women's heads. Faith passes, but probably reluctantly.
Next up is a giant snake, that starts to swallow Angel whole, as Sophie shouts at the snake demon about being ripped off by his not-making-six-pack-abs potion that he'd given her.
Commentary: Yes, Lavinia and Sophie are smarter, wealthier, classier Harmonies. And like with her, they're going to get on my nerves very quickly. I think they may be even more shallow and stereotyped than Harms is!
And, they're more boring than her.
Page 11: Our next demon is huge, as far as height and girth. He informs Angel and Faith that all he wants from the women is for Lavinia to deliver on her promise to give him a huge kiss for his giving up a talisman to her that kept cancer away while she was free to smoke at her leisure.
The two decide that Sophie can deal with that debt on her own. She accuses them of being horrible people.
Next up is a red demon, who accepts a truce with Angel and Faith so he can see Sophie have to french the big demon's long, pronged, slimy, warted tongue.
Page 12: After our two cycle through the twenty demons waiting for payback or to be vanquished, Faith turns on Rupert's great aunts. She wonders why he never mentioned them... ever... if he has their pictures around the house. She's guessing there was family drama.
Lavinia explains that Rupert had picked up a lot of ideas about honor and duty and such which clashed with their own views that their magic was theirs to do with as they will... including helping them live lives of leisure.
Well, Rupert's grandmother - their sister - was very much against that sort of thing and filled young Rupert's head with the same.
Angel mentions that they're not telling the whole story. He's read about them here and there in Giles' journal where there is an obvious underlying tension in his relationship with them.
Page 13: Flashback takes us to the family clashes that happened between Rupert's grandmother Edna and her sisters, in which Rupert's father was often caught in the middle.
The incident in question that caused Rupert's mixed feelings over his grand aunts occurred when they'd come by to argue their sister into turning over the Shard of Stronnos to them as a personal favor. Edna refused most strenuously because her two sisters were always irresponsible and self-centered and nothing good ever came from helping them.
Page 14: The argument devolved quickly as Sophie insisted to elderly Edna that their purpose was noble, but she belittled her by asking if she wanted to use the Shard's ability to transmute matter to energy to melt away the extra ten pounds that she'd gained around her middle. This caused Lavinia to yell at her for being a wrinkled, old prune.
In the meantime, Rupert's father noticed that the sky outside had gotten quite bright and went to draw the curtains. But the bright light wasn't coming from the sun, but from an energy being which Edna calls simply a "light demon".
The demon reports to Edna that the girls want to restore their paramours which the Light Demon has trapped as immaterial beings trapped in their mirrors. Apparently the girls' paramours were just as vain as Lavinia and Sophie.
Page 15: With the demon invading the Giles' home, he reports that he set up Lavinia and Sophie to lead him to the Shard's place of hiding so that he could use it himself to make his people into solid beings. This way, he'll be able to lead his newly solid army to world domination. He points out that the Fairweather's are gullible, preening fools and idiots.
Edna had grabbed the Shard, which was being used as an object d'art on the shelf, and threatened to smash it but was stopped by an energy blast from the demon. The Shard was dropped to the floor, where a young Rupert picked it up.
Page 16: Rupert Giles was able to instinctively use it to grant the demon's wish to be solid. The demon's glee at having a physical body didn't last long, since Edna showed it with a broadaxe that having a body isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Page 17: But, the damage in the Giles/Fairweather family had been done. Realizing that young Rupert had some genetic ability with magic immediately caused his father and grandmother to decide on the spot that he'd have to go into the Watchers' Academy.
Rupert was still very much interested in his dreams of being a fighter pilot, but his father made it clear that would no longer be an option. The girls' efforts to get Rupert's training under their care instead were met with hostility, as both Rupert's father and his grandmother wanted him to use his gifts for a higher purpose.
Edna gave them the Shard and told them to piss off.
Page 18: Back in the present, Sophie tells Angel that she and her sister would help Rupert whenever he called upon them as a matter of obligation. Angel points out that Giles' abilities were bound to surface sooner or later, anyway, but she feels badly about his missing more of his childhood. Edna's stories about the Academy were filled with dreadful tales and they'd known immediately that he was about to be exposed to horrors that would kill any further childhood for him.
With the history told, Angel informs them that he plans on bringing Giles back from the dead, which they'd already put together from the rumors they'd been hearing about him. That is why they were really there. They've brought back the Shard that they had borrowed.
Commentary: I don't think that this story really clears up Giles' feelings about his great aunts. I'm assuming that Angel's observations about Giles' ambivalence in regards to the Fairweather sisters is due to their utter refusal to grow out of their selfish narcissism, but I guess I was hoping for something more dramatic. Considering the amount of time we devoted to this flashback, I wonder if Rupert was feeling bitter or angry toward his aunts for their being the catalyst of his "losing his boyhood", but it isn't made clear here whether Giles was angry at anyone other than his father and so far, that seemed more about his classmates getting killed than his being forced to join the Academy in the first place.
The entire story about how Giles ended up being pressured into being a Watcher-candidate felt flat and left me feeling pretty "meh" about it all, which was disappointing.
Page 19: The Shard obvs collected a bit of Rupert when he'd unwittingly used it, because as soon as Angel takes ahold of it, an energy pulse fires into his chest and the magic nipple-piercing.
Lavinia imagines that it's Rupert's essence as a child, the last time they saw him with any sort of innocence.
Faith is surprised that anyone except Angel believes he can actually pull this off, but Lavinia thinks they must give it a try. Sophie is more reticent about it, but she's willing to go along.
The Fairweathers then retire for the night, managing to displace Angel and Faith from their rooms.
Page 20: Upstairs, Angel has shown Lavinia to his room. She tells him she's glad that they finally have a moment alone, which Angel takes as her making a pass at him. She corrects him on this notion, telling him that she actually wanted him alone to encourage him to not let anyone else's doubts get in the way of his returning Giles to life if he can manage it.
She tells Angel that not only does the world need him back, but more importantly (to her) both he and she need him back as well.
Meanwhile, also upstairs, but in Faith's room, Sophie is pulling the same thing. Only directly opposite of her sister. She tells Faith, after insulting her by suggesting that Rupert left her everything because she was bedding him and then not believing her denials, that what Angel is proposing is dangerous and if it looks like he's about to make a grand mess than it will fall on her shoulders to stop him. Whatever it takes.
Commentary: At first, I took this to mean that Lavinia and Sophie were mirroring Angel and Faith's opinions and ambiguity about his plans over Rupert. But reading further, it seems more like they're actually on the same page but playing into both Angel and Faith's personal feelings and doubts. Lavinia is pushing Angel to find a way to rescue Rupert from the grave, while Sophie is making sure that Faith is ready to pull the plug if it looks like Angel's going to inflict suffering on Rupert with a botched attempt. They both would like to see Giles brought back, but not as something less than he was. And they're both manipulating their "counterparts" to ensure that things happen, in either scenario, the way that they want.
I think the telling line is on the next page when Sophie is talking to him/herself and acknowledging that they're still using people, but then offers that they're both just helping Angel and Faith play the roles that they already desperately want to play.
Page 21: Faith and Angel meet downstairs where neither brings up their respective conversations.
Upstairs, Lavinia is in her room talking to Giles' great beyond and telling him that she knows he's probably scowling at her. He tells him that she and her sister put up with his choosing to get old, like their sister, but there is no way in hell that they'll stand by while he stays dead from what amounts to "a commoner slipping in the bath". She promises that if he can be saved, they'll make sure that Angel finds it.
But down the hallway, Sophie is also talking to Giles and assuring his spirit in the beyond that she'll see to it, via Faith, that he not suffer some horrible fate should Angel prove unable to carry out his intent. She promises that his aunties are going to look out for him [which, see my commentary for the previous page].
Meanwhile, still downstairs, Angel and Faith's talking about the Fairweathers is interrupted by a knock on the door to Angel's consternation.
Page 22: Angel rushes to the door, yelling ahead of him that he's had a rough day and if whoever is there isn't gone when he reaches the door, he'll snap his neck like a toothpick. Obvs, Angel is thinking Its going to be someone else that the Fairweather women wheeled, dealed and ran out on paying back.
Turns out, though, that it is WILLOW! With the broken Scythe she took from Buffy when she slipped out of San Francisco!
"Uh-huh. Kinda your wheelhouse, isn't it?" She says on his opening the door.
Commentary: And, she's still always mildly bitchy!! [Especially the way she's holding the Scythe handle in a vaguely "stake him" way.]
The Good: The string of demons wanting some sort of deal honored that Giles' great aunts made were mildly amusing.
Faith's dislike of the Fairweathers was also mildly amusing, what with her sharp quips at them.
The Bad: The Fairweathers are a bit too much to be comedic... more like Odious Komedy Relief-y.
Other Thoughts: I was a bit disappointed by the Giles' past story in this one. The whole business just wasn't nearly as dramatic as I thought it might be, and thereby justifying the number of pages we spent listening to Lavinia and Sophie weave it.
It's nice to see Willow showing up in London and providing another crossover with BTVS, S9.
It doesn't affect scoring, but I have really mixed feelings about the artwork provided by Samnee & Bellaire.
The Score: This is the first issue of a new arc, and as such I was really hoping for something more solid. This read more like an exposition-heavy middle-of-arc issue, and the attempt to give us a comedy issue after the drama-heavy last arc fell flat due to the lackluster and heavily stereotyped new characters.
It's an overall middling issue, but the Fairweathers tip our score lower than average due to be Odious Komedy Relief characters.
2.75 out of 5 stars
Next Review: The Walking Dead's "VATOS"
Second Next: We start reviewing Spike's "A Dark Place" with Issue 1 (yes, that would make sense).