Angel & Faith
Season not-9-but-7, Issue 16
"Death and Consequences" Part I
Script: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (Comicraft)
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: Resurrecting Giles in a world without magic seems to be closer than ever before as Angel gathers more and more pieces of the former Watcher's soul. Faith has served as Angel's right hand, while at the same time being urged by all around her to make sure he doesn't cross a line. Her other focus since the end of magic -- that is, watching out for the displaced Slayers -- hasn't been going as well. For now, Angel and Faith have each other...
Page 01: We open in the thick of the action, with Faith and Angel battling demons in Peru.
Page 02: It turns out that Faith and Angel are Indiana-Jonesing in Peru in order to steal a circlet from a group of regenerating demons.
Page 03: Using a flame thrower, Faith and Angel nearly make their escape until it runs out of fuel. Fortunately for them, Angel brought a backup, and a tossed grenade is enough to ensure their escape with the bauble.
Page 04: Angel explains to Faith that the demon's amazing regenerating powers weren't tied to them, but to the Crown of Coils that now rests in his hands.
The next part is one that Faith has qualms about, but Angel explains they need to test it on a human being. She drags the corpse of a drug dealer that had been killed by the demons over for Angel to test the regenerating powers of the Crown upon.
When it looks like Faith may balk, Angel tells her to step aside, but she's still onboard... just not happily.
Either way, the Crown proves that it's power is potent by regenerating the battered and half-decomposed body into a fully intact, though still deceased, body.
Commentary: You can't really go wrong with a decent action sequence, so I liked the start of this one. I also want to give props for the in-story calling out of the Crown as the McGuffin. Really, the entire series has been chasing down a series of props to justify why Angel can even attempt to bring back Giles from the dead -- not only getting around the pesky "no new magicks" problem generated by BTVS, S8 -- but also to get around how natural deaths, like a broken neck, are supposed to be permanent [as at least implied strongly by BTVS, S5 and S6 as well as AtS, S5 with Cordy's coma-death].
I'm still along for the ride. I still have problems with the idea of not leaving dead as dead, especially when it comes to major character deaths. But, Christos' writing has been really strong overall and I like that one of our main characters is being allowed to express my own discomfort with this arc, in-story.
I also like that the Crown of Coils isn't being given resurrecting powers, either. It can clearly regenerate flesh and bone, but the dead body remained lifeless so it isn't going to be easy, still, to actually recreate Rupert.
Page 05: Angel and Faith discuss, a little bit, her worry that all of this is going to go wrong. But, Angel is determined as ever to set right what Twi-Angel put wrong.
On the plane ride back to England, while Angel rests in his hoodie, Faith reflects.
Page 06: In a flashback to last year, Faith remembers a time when Giles warned her against getting so wrapped up in trying to help someone [in that case a damaged Slayer who clearly didn't want help] that would only drag her into their own pain and dysfunction, after she'd done so well at pulling her way out of her own [obvs, she's worried that Angel is going to continue to pull her into doing something she knows isn't right with this whole situation].
Commentary: And yes -- I do still have a trace of bitterness for the lost opportunity of the Faith & Giles, concurrent series with BTVS, S8.
A mini-series would've been fine, even. I just don't understand how we didn't get much more of their partnership.
Page 07: Back in England now, deep in the night, Angel and Faith are digging up Giles' body in the cemetery.
They get the coffin uncovered, and Angel tells Faith she doesn't have to look, but she crosses her arms and tells him to just get with opening it.
Page 08: Angel, Faith and us are shocked to find that Rupert's coffin has already been emptied!
Page 09: Back at Faith's current home, formerly Giles', Angel and her confront Sophie and Lavinia. Both of them are outraged that a) Angel misplaced Giles [which he didn't, obvs] after killing him, and then b) that he'd think that they'd know anything about Rupert being stolen prior to his supposed burial [until they realize that yes, they do hang out with people that would be the sorts who'd steal bodies].
Page 10: Faith directs the sisters to start on a list of their less-savory associates, as the trail is already quite cold.
Further discussion is interrupted by a pissed off Nadira arriving, along with the London Slayer contingent. And, she knows that Faith has been hanging out with the Twi-Vampire that killed off her old squad.
Page 11: Faith tries to explain to Nadira that Angel wasn't himself when he killed their fellow Slayers, but even she has to admit to being confused about the entire Twi-debacle.
Nadira blows this off. She's not actually there about Faith's betrayal by partnering with Angel despite what he did, but rather to bring Marianne to her, the London Slayer recently killed by Drusilla.
Page 12: Liv and Sophie exit stage right, while Nadira explains that they've been keeping Marianne in a freezer while Faith was out [she was in Quor'Toth, helping Willow]. She also fills in Angel and Faith on how Marianne died, and accuses them of letting Drusilla escape.
Page 13: Angel tries to explain about the chaos that let Dru get away, but Nadira wants none of that. She yells at him for being able to kill demons, monsters and even elder gods - but it just so happens that the vampire he sired and spent a century slaughtering people with just so happens to keep slipping out of his grasp.
One of the London Slayers touches Nadira's arm to stop the confrontation, reminding Nadira that their visit isn't about vengeance, though clearly Nadira wouldn't exactly mind slipping that in there during this visit.
Commentary: I really liked Nadira's dialog on this page, especially the bit about how Dru keeps getting away. I'm ready to take that as a 4th-wall crack toward the writers for not allowing Drusilla to finally be taken care of, despite her continuing to turn up like a bad penny. I also like to think that the crack toward Angel's taking on elder gods is a sly acknowledgement toward Angel, S6 and his battle with James/Myr. It was probably not that specific, but it gives me a fuzzy to think continuity between companies is being given a side-glance, at least.
As for Nadira herself, I'm a bit bummed out that she's the only London Slayer whose name I actually know without trying to search the Slayers listing on Buffy & Angel Wiki. We really could've used more in the way of Faith having to balance Angel's needs with her feelings of responsibility toward the surviving Slayers under her tutelage - but for that we'd have needed the half dozen girls to each get more page time to have a developed personality and individuality. That's been really lacking with Faith mostly following Angel's lead and trying to decide if she's going to stop him at the last minute from trying Giles' resurrection.
Page 14: Nadira tells us about the wonder that was Marianne, though Faith tells her that she was one of the new Slayers that Faith tried to talk out of the life. Apparently the slain Slayer didn't have the killer instinct that Faith thought she needed, and that it seemed to her that Marianne was never taken with slaying, so much as with the sense of family and community she received by fighting alongside her sisters.
Nadira then points at Angel and tells him that he's going to see to her return from the dead.
Page 15: To Angel's shock, Nadira informs both he and Faith that the Slayers have been quite busy since their trip abroad [and cross dimensionally]. She and the Londoners have been investigating what they've been up to, and have discovered their search for a way to bring the Watcher back from death. Nadira now wants them to turn their attention to Marianne instead.
She points out that even Rupert probably wouldn't think that he deserved a resurrection more than anyone else. And she threatens to kill both Faith and Angel if they put their desire to bring back Giles over helping Marianne.
Page 16: Angel asks some relevant questions, finding that Marianne didn't have any of the sorts of involvement with magic that might mean Giles can be brought back, where the Slayer cannot. Nadira isn't happy with this -- which she shows by socking him in the jaw and knocking him on his ass.
Page 17: Nadira goes on a tirade about the metaphysics of souls in a world with The Seed and her belief that they can't move on, so Marianne is still reachable around them. Angel's belief is that dying is a natural part of the world, and so souls are still going where they're supposed to go... though he cannot provide any convincing argument for why that would be the case, which Nadira points out.
Before things can escalate to the point where Faith has to intercede, the girls receive a text from some ghoul with information about a Plan B. They leave, but Nadira makes it clear that if Angel really can't ... or won't ... help them, he's destined for a dusting.
Commentary: The thing that I'm interested in with Angel's own explanations, is that he's basically making a point that I'd brought up before - he's actually not talking about resurrecting Giles, at all. If he believes that Giles' soul proper has "gone where it's supposed to" and only fragments are left behind, then doesn't that mean he's actually talking about putting together a replica?
Worse -- a stitched together replica made up of disparate slivers left behind. Doesn't this sound EVER SO bad?
It bothers me that Faith doesn't question this lack of logic between what they believe happened to Giles when he died, and what Angel claims he wants to do. He's really talking about summoning a doppleganger that is a pale reflection of the Rupert who - presumably - ascended... or descended, I suppose.
I was never really on board with bringing back Giles for out-story reasons... if you kill a main [but not title] character, it should have a permanence. But this is presenting a very good in-story reason for aborting this quest, and it is mildly annoying that no one is having this discussion on what Angel hopes to accomplish, when he keeps stating he wants to bring the actual-Giles back.
Page 18: Nadira next has some words for Faith, namely: You're Out Of Here!
She accuses Nadira of straight out lying to her face to cover for Angel [yep - she did]. With Faith having made her choice, the Londoners are agreed that her tutelage will no longer be required.
Page 19: When the Londoners leave, Angel tries to place a comforting hand on Faith's shoulder, but she yells at him not to.
They're left to be miserable together, seperately.
Page 20: Later that night, Nadira and her team arrive in Guildford. They're taken into a manse... presumably on the information that was received by the ghoul contact that Daphne pressed.
Page 21: The girls are led into a sitting parlor, where a man we don't see offers them tea... [No. No way].
Nadira nearly blows another gasket as she points out that they're standing there with the body of their friend, and they're there not to chat, but because he allegedly knows something about raising the dead.
Page 22: [ACK! NO!]
The man turns out to be... yes... Rupert Giles. He informs Nadira that he does have some experience in her area of interest.
[ACK! There is no way this is good news! He wouldn't have been hiding out if he'd come back from the dead... he'd have checked in with Faith, if not Buffy -- remembering that his bizarre will pointed to his severe distance from his former Slayer. EWwww- bad feelings, here.]
The Good: The first few opening pages were fun, and I do like that trying to bring back Giles is continuing to be a real difficult task.
I really liked the confrontation over Angel between Nadira and Faith and the way that it was handled without a cliche good-guys-battle-royale.
I also appreciate that we're not being kept in the dark for issues upon issues about Rupert. We see his empty coffin at the beginning, and see him walking and talking at the end.
The Bad: Hmmm... I don't think I can buy into Giles' advice to Faith in the flashback to drop Slayers who obvs don't want to be helped. It feels wrong for him to shrug and walk away from a Slayer in trouble -- especially with his experience of a bad Slayer out in the wilds.
It also felt off for Faith to stand off panel after Angel gets knocked down to the floor -- especially when Nadira actually draws the stake. Obvs, rules of drama applied, but it was awkward to not have Faith at least stepping in Nadira's direction, and then being held back by the other Slayers.
Other Thoughts: Ugh, Giles is walking and talking but not letting Faith or Buffy know he's alive and well? And how could he have been brought back if Angel is having such a time of it? And, who stole his body in the first place? I have a very bad feeling about this in-story. But, out-story, I'm also worried about how this is all going to be handled... we better not get a lame explanation to waive aside his having died at the end of BtVS, S8.
While I appreciate the amount of personality given to Nadira, it has come at the cost of her fellow Slayers being anonymous faces in the background, which is a bit of a bummer. Marianne's case was even a "told, not shown" situation. It's not as noticeable as in BTVS, where some of the main arcs haven't been as interesting to hide the fact that the side-players are cyphers or just plain uninteresting but it is an ongoing issue.
The Score: This was a really solid issue, giving the series a sense of momentum to carry through this next arc [something that has been generally a high mark for this series over some of BTVS S9 arcs]. The mystery of Giles is engaging, if worrying. A good read.
4.0 out of 5 stars.
Next Up: I'm not sure. I haven't decided if I'll finish this arc first, or use my presumably fixed DVD-drive immediately to review "THEM", the giant ant movie. I guess we'll find out together.