Angel & Faith
Issue 15, Part I
"The Hero of His Own Story - Whistler"
Script: Christos Gage, Pencils: Lee Garbett, Inks: Derek Fridolfs, Colors: Dan Jackson
Letters: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft's) Jimmy Betancourt, Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: While he resides in London with rebel Slayer Faith Lehane, Angel has begun a quest to bring Giles back from the dead that has put him in contact with a few old friends. But Whistler and half-demon siblings Pearl and Nash have their own agendas since Twilight's betrayal led to the world's loss of magic...
My Blurb: I've separated the review of issue 15 into story A (Whistler) and story B (Nash & Pearl). This review is only for Whistler's tale.
Page 01: We open with Angel stepping into a diner, where Whistler is waiting for him.
Whistler invites Angel to sit down and share a slice of New York style pizza and a chat. But Angel isn't as friendly back, accusing Whistler of being crazy for his working with Nash and Pearl. Whistler doesn't take kindly to the aspersion. Angel grabs his lapels and demands to know where the evil twins are located.
Page 02: As we know, Whistler is ... different, from what we saw in BTVS oh-so-long ago. His feelings toward Angel have certainly undergone quite a chill. He grabs Angel's arm and snaps the bone in it, before ordering Angel to sit his ass down before he breaks the other one.
Commentary: As mentioned in my commentary for the very first issue of Angel & Faith, I'm bummed out that Whistler is to be our bad guy, rather than him being an advisor for Angel. But, on the other hand, since his advice included the Twi-Debacle, I suppose that I should be relieved that Angel and he are clearly not on the same page.
It is a little bit weird trying to reconcile the jokey-sarcastic-standerby in BTVS to this proactive-violent-douchebag but the writers still have me onboard. I just hope that this will end with either his absolution or his death. What I don't want is for Whistler to be an ongoing bad-guy in future seasons... he's not that interesting to me as the big-bad-wannabe.
Page 03: Whistler is meeting with Angel to "celebrate" their anniversary of the night that he came and saved Angel from being an alleyrat and gave him a new purpose.
Page 04: Whistler gives Angel the spiel about how he'd helped him and Buffy find one another so that they could fulfill a greater destiny of issuing in a new and better world where everyone in the world could fulfill their individual destinies, where everyone could evolve.
But then Angel threw away the entire New Universe game in the 9th inning, just as they were about to win!
Now, he's bitter and pissed... and not at all happy that Angel "forced" him to team up with the Donny & Marie of Hell. Whistler wants to know why.
Page 05: Angel explains that their friends were going to die, but Whistler points out that he was creating a new universe and could have ported them over, if they'd just acted fast enough. But Angel points out the billions that would run out of time before they could be rescued as the Hell Dimensions opened up Earth for reconquest.
Whistler thinks of the casualties as an unfortunate side effect of evolution, but still believes the body count would've been acceptably "low" if he and Buffy had worked hard and fast on the mass exodus.
Angel accuses Whistler of hiding the fact that he'd make things worse by trying to create Paradise. He accuses him of doing nothing but using him from the first moment he'd picked him up from the streets. This is something which Whistler doesn't bother denying. He explains that is the definition of "destiny": The Universe using you.
Commentary: I refuse to comment any further on the Twi-Debacle. I appreciate the attempt at providing some context and explanations for the drawn-out horror-show, but I'm just not gonna think on it any further. NOT GONNA DO IT.
Page 06: Whistler decides to tell Angel about his own past to make a point about hard choices and radical thinking. He informs Angel about his own parents... a full-blood demon as mother and a Power-That-Be as father. Both of them radical thinkers who tried to change the whole relationship between "Good" and "Evil" through love.
Both were executed for this revolutionary thinking. For one moment, Good and Evil teamed up seamlessly to destroy their respective heretics.
With the status quo back in place, that left a loose end -- the baby.
Page 07: The demons wanted to eat the spawn, but the Powers saved Whistler's life and shepherded him. They blessed him with precognition and a task: Save the balance.
Sometimes it meant helping people by shedding a light in times of darkness, like pointing King Arthur in the direction of Excalibur. Sometimes, it meant going the other way and stamping out the light.
Whistler always kept the ultimate goal in mind, not matter how much sometimes it made him sick having to do some of the darker things. It was a matter of balance=greater-good.
Page 08: Whistler goes on to ask Angel to understand how that felt. To spend thousands of years setting up good people to help change the world for the better, knowing that he'd also have to make sure they'd ultimately failed in order to keep the balance in place.
It wore on him. He started thinking that there had to be a better way out of the conundrum. And then he thought he'd found it: Angel & Buffy... the Vampire and the Slayer, just as his parents had been The Demon and The Angel.
He explicates that Angel and Buffy's New Universe could've been the ultimate balance where magic/science, good/evil, light/dark all merged into a cohesive whole where none of these things could dominate the other. The people saved could've been something higher -- something more evolved.
But then he and Buffy threw everything away. And the moment that she'd shattered The Seed, all of Whistler's existence was thrown into chaos... and not just him, but all of Earth's. Suddenly everyone, including himself, were cut off from the greater reality.
Page 09: Whistler complains that just before his visions cut out for good, he'd received one last. A look at the future of the world... and it was near death.
Commentary: And coincidentally -- it appears that it may be Fray's reality. Which leads to a whole lotta questions about Buffy's addressing of the Fray future in "Time Of Your Life", Dark Willow, and the Time-Hijinks.
Now, you could look at Whistler's vision and say that it isn't Fray's reality and the hovercars and dingy cityscape was only similar but that feels 'wrong' to me. It feels like this should all be leading toward Fray's future without magic, and the Slayer. So, you could also say that this is an alternate vision of Fray's future... grown even darker than we saw in "Time Of Your Life"... or possibly even better... this is a future of Fray's future after she is gone and a new Slayer wasn't called for whatever reason to replace her or was called but knew even less than her about what she was and what she was supposed to do leading to The End.
All of them are good suggestions, but none of them are addressed here at all. Which kinda frustrates me. Since the two stories are addressing the future without magic, it feels like a cop out not to address Buffy's earlier arc here in some way. Especially, since Whistler's tale could've and possibly should've been a complete issue in its own right.
Pearl and Nash's history could've been spun off into a half-issue along with exploring Nadira a bit more instead of pairing them with Whistler, here.
I'm disappointed with the way this isn't addressed at all, just because it feels like a lost opportunity to me to do something really interesting to tie the entire "timeline" together.
Page 10: Whistler tells Angel that he has to believe that the future of the world isn't set in stone, just as it has never been inevitable for his other visions to become reality. He explains what he's doing currently, which is to collect magical items that still contain their charges. He's going to grind them all into a magic dust and seed the world with this magical powder. Instead of The Seed having Earth's magic, the energy will become a part of every living thing in the world. The Earth itself will be its own magic, and it'll evolve over time with life. Everything will evolve, turning Earth into a Twilight-Dimension-Like Paradise.
Commentary: Oh, Whistler. I don't know if you're just half-crazy or really naive. But I'm thinking that the future fantasy of people being healers and artists and riding unicorns is a bit far-fetched.
Does anyone remember that magic can be twisted just and misused like anything else? And, uh, people tend toward selfishness.
I fear Whistler just isn't really thinking this through in his desperation. I feel sorry for him. But, obvs, he's gotta be stopped... especially since we know that Willow is off to save the world, and she can - apparently - do anything.
Page 11: Whistler admits to Angel that the cost will be high for what he's planning. That upwards of two billion people may be lost during the change. But he compares this against the entire Earth dying in the future. Whistler even admits that he hates this, but he's also completely sure that it is the only way to save the greater good from what Angel and Buffy have wrought.
He tells Angel that he's always been his guy, and intimates that he would throw Nash and Pearl overboard if Angel would help him instead.
Angel admits to Whistler that he's forever greatful to him for everything that he'd done to put him on his current path to being somebody who counts and for giving him his shot with Buffy. He tells him he wants to help him.
Page 12: But Angel tells Whistler that he's not thinking clearly. He's sympathetic, as he knows that the sudden loss of balance must've did a number on Whistler's mind, but he promises that he's going to help him. He promises to find a way to fix what has happened.
Whistler doesn't take kindly to this and tells Angel to screw off. Angel tries to explain that he can't let Whistler's plan go forward.
Which earns his stomach being punched out!
Page 13: With Angel twisting on the floor, Whistler breaks off a stake from a table.
But he tells him he can't do it, that Angel is his favorite and he can't bring himself to stake him dead.
"So, don't make me... And don't ever let me see you again."
Whistler leaves Angel to regrow his destroyed stomach, and glaring after him....
The Good: I like the sense of personal history and closeness that is maintained between Whistler and Angel, even with them obviously on opposite sides.
I also like seeing Whistler's history (with that little caveat in "Other Thoughts").
The Bad: Nothing is bad, but "Other Thoughts" again.
Other Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about Whistler being oh-so-much-powerful than ever shown before. I can't decide if I'm glad with this alteration, or if I liked him better as strictly the advisor.
I'm not gonna put it in The Bad, but really Whistler's story could easily be a whole issue if not two by itself. As stated in commentary, reducing his story to a half-issue feels like a real lost opportunity.
The Score: I really liked Whistler's tale and wished it was much longer and more detailed. I've already stated my preference for just glossing over Twi-Debacle and leaving it lie, but discussion of it wasn't painful. I'm still very much on the fence with Whistler being the bad guy, but I appreciate this explanation we have as to why he's playing against Angel and has teamed up with the unambiguously monsters of Nash and his sister.
3.75 out of 5 stars.
Next review: Angel & Faith, issue 15(b) -- the Nash and Pearl story.