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22 March 2014 @ 06:09 pm
Angel & Faith, Issue 18 -- reviewed  
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Angel & Faith
Season not9, Issue 18

“Death and Consequences”, part III

Script: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft’s) Jimmy Betancourt
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…

My Blurb: Mild Warning; screen caps are filled with drawn blood & grue.


Page 01: We open the issue back in the past with Rupert bumming around London. He’s taken up with a rock band and is playing in some punk bar.

An older woman with tall hair has arrived, placing her fingers in her ears as she goes. We recognize her as Giles’ grandmother, Edna from “Women of a Certain Age”.


Page 02: Backstage, the members of “Wretched” are complaining that Giles can sing a lot better than his lackluster performance that evening, but he’s all not caring. This is interrupted by Gran’s arrival, where Rupert is appropriately surprised to see her.

The bandmates, after they’ve had their laugh at Giles having a “gran”, are ordered out by Rupert under Edna’s baleful glare.


Page 03: Edna gives Giles the ol’ “hands on hips, looking disapproving” look as she tells him how difficult it was to track him down. He tries to blow this off with “I’ve been busy”, but he’s clearly suffering and his “punk ethos – I don’t care” attitude almost immediately collapses.

Rupert admits to Edna about messing in magicks, despite her previous warnings, and she can see that it’s taken quite the toll on him. This is following Randall’s death, but it’s unclear how much Edna knows at this point – she only says that she’s heard “disturbing things” about him since he dropped out of Oxford.  She tries to tell him that magic leaves a mark on everyone who comes into contact with it, but one must overcome the dark through perseverance and will.

Giles tells her that he’s already failed that, and shows her his Eyghon mark.


Page 04: Cut to present day, and Giles’ Eyghon-owned body. He’s speaking in tandem with Eyghon’s actual body as he tells the London Slayers that they all belong to him.

The Slayers continue to battle against the animated dead. Nadira tells her fellows to aim for the heads, as they would for fighting other zombies.


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Commentary: I particularly liked this transition between Giles admitting to his Gran that he’d failed in keeping the dark from marking him, to the results of that earlier failure. It’s very tv-ish, and you could see an episode of Buffy or Angel carrying out this scene transition in exactly this way.

I also really like the artwork for the first panel with Eyghon in the background, hovering over the chaos going on, and having Giles continuing to parrot his dialog. It’s pretty awful, as far as seeing Giles used in this way, but the panel is really effective.



Page 05: But Daphne points out that Vanessa, who she’s facing off against, isn’t a zombie but was only knocked out. Nadira acknowledges that the zombies attacking are trying to knock them all out in order to allow their possession, and that Daphne needs to defend herself.

But Daphne isn’t able to hurt Vanessa, and allows the makeshift club she was using to be taken from her. Vanessa-Eyghon promptly knocks Daphne out, allowing her to join is growing entourage.


Commentary: I like this battle, and can appreciate Daphne’s dilemma, but I’m still annoyed that she didn’t fight back. It’s not like she had to kill her friend – she could’ve just kicked her knee out or throat-stuck her to disable her. Her just letting herself be knocked out, so that she could then get pressed into service by the demon just felt particularly un-Slayer-like.

I can’t decide if I’m annoyed at the character only, or if I’m annoyed at Gage for not handling this a bit differently. I can see Daphne maybe freezing up in the situation, but at the same time, it still feels like it would’ve been better if she’d at least tried some sort of half-assed action and then that led to her being knocked out – rather than just have her stand there like an idiot in a zombie movie.



Page 06: As things continue to worsen, Nadira orders a retreat, but the un-co-opted girls are now surrounded on all sides. Eyghon, through the possessed/animated, continues his spiel about how they should all just submit, because being a part of him is so groovy-keen.

This is interrupted by a crossbow shaft piercing the brain of one of the decomposed bodies, which turns out to have come from Faith. She snarks that real zombie fans don’t like ‘em running, and we sure as hell won’t appreciate it if they go on being chatty.


Page 07: Eyghon’s response is to use Giles to throw Faith off by pretending that it is Rupert. Faith is momentarily distracted at seeing him, and though Angel tries to warn her that it isn’t him, he’s a bit too late.

Rupert has a sword and hilt-checks her to the side of the head, sending her to the floor.


Page 08: Angel is too far away and too busy to get to her, but shouts at her not to black out. But we can see the green-eyes-of-too-late,possessed happening to her.

Nadira also sees this, and reacts. She uses her own sword to slice Faith across the abdomen.


Page 09: Faith comes to fast, and she’s not at all grateful – glaring at Nadira for slicing her. Nadira tells her it was shallow, just to keep her in the here and now. She grabs her by the arm and tells her that there isn’t any time for their problems, as things have gone bad and they need to get out of there.

Angel shouts at Faith from where he’s kicking Giles’ body through a set of doors to get the rest out while he covers their retreat.

Using his own sword, he rushes the towering Eyghon.


Page 10: Turns out this may not have been a good move.

Although Angel manages to slice Eyghon, the demon hardly notices. But his recognition of Angelus in his presence fills him with glee. He tells Angel that he’s been waiting a long time for the payback. He also tells him that he can hold a grudge for a long time, and he should ask Giles if it isn’t true.

Giles confirms.

Eyghon, after knocking Angel off of his feet by bouncing him into a wall, uses one of his sword-length claws to spear Angel through the back and out the front, shishkabobbing him.


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Commentary: And just to broken-record things – again, this is some really great artwork by Rebekah and Dan.


Page 11: As Angel is being speared, Faith urges everyone to keep moving and not to look back. She expresses her confidence that Angel will be okay.

Nadira takes this opportunity to berate her for worrying over Angel when their actual friends are being dominated, but Faith tells her to pull her head out of her ass. She explains that they came prepared to fight zombies, not their very-much-still-alive friends and they need to regroup with a plan.

In the meantime, Eyghon has scooped up Angel into the palm of his hand, while he’s still pierced through. Angel uses the leverage gained to swing his sword under him floundering body, severing two of Eyghon’s fingers, including the one whose claw is currently staked through his body. This allows him to yank the claw out, while Eyghon is distracted with pain-yelling.


Commentary: Uhhh… yeah….
That maneuver would be exceptionally awkward, and the artwork depicting it doesn’t do anything to help me buy that Angel would be able to use his long sword that deftly under this circumstance.



Page 12: As Angel makes a desperate dash for escape behind the Slayers, Eyghon complains that Angel has managed to hurt him twice now. He promises him dismemberment, where he’ll watch his friends die in agony as his limbs regrow, only to then have them cut off again.


Page 13: Meanwhile, despite being speared through the middle, Angel is able to make a run for the car that he and Faith arrived in.

Behind him, Eyghon goes on blabbing about how much his friends will suffer for his impudence as he tears apart the manor around him.


Page 14: As the car rushes away, Eyghon calls them fools. He assures himself that he knows everything about his foes and can intercept them wherever they try to run by co-opting everyone they care about.

Meanwhile in the car, Nadira wants to get ahold of heavy weapons, but Faith reminds her that anything powerful enough to take him out will also kill his human shields.

Angel tells them they need to fight smartly, and uses one of the girl’s cellphones to give a call to Alasdair [or so it appears].


Page 15: At Alasdair’s, after Angel’s been patched up, they discuss how to stop Eyghon. Alasdair says they need to behead him, but they’ll never get the chance due to their friends and everyone else he’s possessing will be in the way the whole time. Nadira wants to know if he’s actually suggesting that they abandon their friends, which of course, is not what he was getting at… only that they have to fight smarter rather than the whole ‘rush and slash’ the Slayers usually do.

Faith points out that Angel “smoked” Eyghon before, but Angel corrects her that he only thought he had. He shares that while he was Twi-Angel, he’d ordered research done on any possible competition to him, and one of those turned up was Eyghon.

Despite his belief that he’d been banished during Angelus’ confrontation with him in “The Dark Age”, the demon had apparently jumped into a dead rat under the floor boards of Ethan’s temporary costume shop.


Page 16: Angel goes on to say that later, Eyghon jumped from the rat to a homeless man and disappeared.

Alasdair picks up the narrative by guessing that Eyghon, stung by his limitations in only possessing a person, laid low. With time, he was able to go from possessing the homeless man, to actually being born from with him. His own body wouldn’t have the limitations that his borrowed ones would.

From there, it would be easy to imagine that he’d looked for Ethan Rayne and Rupert Giles – the only two left who’d gotten his mark in the past….


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Page 17: But of course, by that time, Ethan and Rupert had both been killed. Still, Eyghon was able to get a measure of vengeance on them. Because they’d willingly taken on his mark and allowed their possession in the first place, Eyghon had claim on their souls.

Angel continues by sharing now that is why he knew he could resurrect Giles, despite the low-magic problems. Giles’ soul never moved on into the afterlife. Small bits of him were left with power objects he’d been connected with, but the bulk of everything he was rests with his “owner”, Eyghon.

Angel has been searching for Eyghon to complete his quest to bring Giles back.

Alasdair confirms that if they can kill him, it’ll be possible to retrieve Giles’ soul back from the demon. But he worries that with this latest defeat Eyghon will just take the people he has and disappear again where they won’t be able to find him.

Faith allays these fears. She shares that for the brief moments before Nadira broke her free, she was part of Eyghon and saw what he wanted.


Page 18: Faith shares that she saw that Eyghon was going to abscond with Ethan and Rupert back to his home realm, but with The Seed’s shattering, he was stuck. So, he decided the next best thing was to recreate his own version of hell where he was.

At Twi-Base, Eyghon had managed to possess an unconscious soldier and march zombie-Ethan out under the cover of a prisoner transfer before anyone realized that he’d been killed already by the General that Angel had partnered with.

Through zombie-Ethan he went about buying the estate and putting together his new army.  But, he still has a problem – the expiration date on his army members. The dead bodies burn out quickly. And though the unconscious, or those like Ethan and Giles whose souls he has, can last longer – they’re still going to break down. But those with magic will last the longest. It acts as a preservative, which is why Ethan and Giles’ bodies can continue since their deaths.


Page 19: But, there is still the problem he has with not a lot of magic around to keep his budding army fresh for the fight. His solution? Team up with some people who want to change the new status quo – Whistler, Nash and Pearl!

Eyghon has been giving them magic items he’s come across to help them alter things.  In exchange, Eyghon will receive all of the dead who won’t survive Whistler’s plans to mutate humanity through his magic-plague. Whistler has agreed to give Eyghon a continent with all of the magic soaked zombies he could want for his amusement, turning him into a superpower in the new age. And even though those zombies will eventually wear out too, people will still be dying as they’ve always done, and those corpses will be delivered into Eyghon’s waiting hands.


Commentary: Okay, so… this is a good place to bring up my review of last issue where I stated that I was going to need more explanations to be satisfied with this plot because of the issues that came with Ethan being dead & how he ended up being snatched by Eyghon and about how he and Giles’ bodies could be still lasting this long out from their deaths after what we saw in “The Dark Age”. So, did this do it for me?

Yes. I’m sure that if you want to nitpick, we could find something here or there, but I’m pretty satisfied with this info-dump on how we find where we are. It’s obvious that some real thought was put behind this season long arc in regards to Giles’ return from the dead and I appreciate this level of care.

If I have any problem, and obvs I do since I’m about to tell y’all all about it, it’s the idea that Angel apparently knew so much and yet didn’t share any of it with Faith.  It strikes me as really disrespecting her, and a bit worse – her relationship with Rupert, to keep his knowledge about Giles’ probable fate from her until this last minute. Now, to be clear, it’s not that I have a problem with this happening from the writing perspective: I totally see Angel keeping this from Faith, especially given her already shaky commitment earlier in the season. What I have an issue with is how this data dump is being depicted. Faith should be outraged right now at Angel for keeping something this important about a man she admired and respected from her. She should be pissed that after their conversations about being more open with one another in regards to this quest, that he’s still be keeping secrets until it almost got her knocked out and possessed because she wasn’t ready to see Rupert’s face in that manor.

But we don’t see any of that reflected, here. And I’m not suggesting that they needed to have actual dialog that would’ve broken in on the characters explaining everything. In fact, it was appropriate for Faith to not confront Angel at this immediate moment in this public venue. I would’ve been thrilled if, as Angel is admitting that he knew Giles’ soul would go to Eyghon, we’d gotten Faith in the background of the panel first looking gobsmacked and then glaring darkly at Angel’s back.

But I’m happy with the explanations themselves for how Eyghon could be here and have possession of Giles’ body.



Page 20: Nadira next questions the Slayer’s involvement, as she’s sure that Eyghon deliberately lured them there. As she points out, if he was just after bodies for his army, there is easier prey to tangle with. But Faith tells her that he wants Slayers.

Angel then breaks in to guess that he doesn’t trust Pearl and her brother and already knows that they won’t want to share power once they get their way. He’s already thinking ahead to a possible double cross from the twins and wants to be ready with an elite force of supernatural warriors ready to defend his newly received territory.


Page 21: As the gang get armed up, the Slayers are divided into edged weapons to use against the zombies and blunt weapons and restraints for use against the living. Angel, meanwhile, will have a magic blade to use against Eyghon, since Angelus has already proven that he can throw off the possessing demon.

But, that leaves Angel in a tight spot. He’s barely been able to fight off Eyghon’s true form and he’ll have to worry about a possessed Slayer getting him in the back during the melee. For this reason, he’s made a call to an old “friend”… the call that I had thought was to Alasdair was actually to…


Page 22: … Spike. Who arrives at the dramatically appropriate moment to snark:

No more weeping and moaning, ladies. And yes, Angel, I saw you there. Spike’s come to save the day. As bloody usual.


Commentary: Spike. I’ve mixed feelings about his showing up, again. On the one hand, I really didn’t miss him since he left Buffy behind – again – to go off and do his own thing. I’m sure that he could’ve stayed gone for another year and I’d have been more excited to see his return than I am right now. But on the other hand, if Spike belongs anywhere, it’s in Angel’s title where he can throw off the moping he does around Buffy and get back to his bitchy and sarcastic self.

So – his return isn’t exactly welcomed to me, but I’d much rather see him here than back in San Francisco. [Although, I’ll call extreme bullshit if SOMEBODY doesn’t call him about Dawn’s current condition!]




The Good: I really like this storyline with Eyghon and Giles’ past coming back to haunt everyone he knew. [Still lukewarm about the resurrection plot.]

I really like Eyghon’s dialog when he’s snarking through Giles’ body.

I’m happy with the explanations we got as to where Eyghon came from and how he got to Ethan and Rupert.


The Bad: Nuthin’ I’d put here.


Other Thoughts: The only thing that rankled was the lack of response from Faith in regards to Angel’s obviously keeping critical information about Giles from her this whole time.

But, I’m also still not onboard with resurrecting Giles as a storytelling matter – death needs to be serious and that is undercut when main characters die but don’t stay dead [hi, SPN!].

I’m also reserving judgment on Spike’s return to prominence.


The Score: I really have enjoyed this latest arc, and this issue was strongly written.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Next Up: The review for Angel & Faith, issue 19.


-end-
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
harsens_robharsens_rob on March 23rd, 2014 10:37 am (UTC)
Hey, thank you.
Actually, I think he spent most of his time in the homeless guy gathering his strength in order to be born into his own body. The rat was a temporary "get out of here" measure.