Angel & Faith
"What You Want, Not What You Need" part one
Script: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (Comicraft)
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: Angel's plan to resurrect Rupert Giles is falling into place. With the help of Faith, that other vampire with a soul, former mage Alasdair Coames, and Giles' two youthful great-aunts, Angel will stop at nothing to bring Giles back... because they'll need his help to defeat Whistler's plan to overhaul life on (E)arth!
My Blurb: Oh, that cover is beautiful.
Page 01: We open at Aladair's home. He helpfully reminds everyone that Rupert's body has been restored by the Crown of Coils, and his soul-pieces have been placed together by Angel and is being held by the Essuary. Now, the two need to be placed together in a world where spells won't function.
Page 02: Angel's solution it to take a page from Whistler's book: He's been hoarding magical items to use as batteries to power his plans, Angel offers that they'll do the same, but on a much smaller scale. The spell he's researched has a single real drawback - it has a high chance of killing the caster. But since Angel is technically dead already, that won't be an impediment.
Faith isn't so thrilled with taking ideas from Crazy Whistler.
Page 03: Spike recognizes Angel's mention of Nash and Pearl being with Whistler and mentions his recent run-in with them in Sunnydale's crater, where they were looking for a shard of The Seed [Spike: A Dark Place].
Angel is annoyed that Spike didn't mention it, but he snarks back that he didn't know the relevance, and besides he cleans up messes unlike Angel. He reports that Nash and Pearl were left empty handed.
As they're arguing, Faith takes a cell phone call. It's from Buffy, who Faith has explained the current crises to. But she tells Angel and Faith that Buffy has reported on her own crises in San Francisco. It seems "some chick" named Dawn is really sick and Buffy is freaking out.
Spike immediately responds to the news, but Angel and Faith don't seem that worried.
Commentary: And, obvs, I shoulda reviewed this issue before BTVS: issue 21, since clearly this is a direct tie-in. We'll see Buffy's response to Faith being "selfish" in that issue, and Spike's arrival in San Fran over there.
Which - yay! - cross continuity!!
And, I'm not ranting about Faith's attitude here, because even on first read, I understood that she was already losing the memory that she knew Dawn with her fading away.
Page 04: Spike brings up Faith's meeting Dawn in Sunnydale when they fought the first, but she and Angel have no memory of Dawn being Buffy's sister.
Spike abruptly declares he's leaving, surprising Angel and Faith. Angel starts to accuse Spike of just wanting to impress Buffy, but Spike doesn't have time for another argument... not with Dawnie in trouble. He rushes out.
Commentary: I am so glad that they directly tied together BTVS and A&F with this page to explain Spike's going from one title to another. So grateful. But... [c'mon, you knew it was coming], this transition page was pretty clumsily written to get Spike out of there.
I wasn't completely satisfied with his exit from London's mess to dive into San Francisco's, but I'm willing to give it a pass.
Page 05: As Faith and Angel are left to wonder what the hell that was all about, Alasdair reminds them of their own problem.
He also reminds Angel that Whistler, Nash and Pearl have been working on gathering their magical items, while they've no hoard of their own, and besides, he's not onboard with the risks of pooling magic from items to bend to other uses.
Well... there isn't any way to address the dangers of the second. But, Angel casts an eye around Alasdair's own hoard of items.
He's appalled. And refuses permission to destroy his artifacts on a foolhardy attempt to mess with resurrection.
Angel hard-glares Alasdair and asks if he really thinks he can stand in the way.
Commentary: Wow. Did not appreciate Angel's all-but-threatening Alasdair, here. I appreciate how desperate Angel is to bring Giles back, but once again, he's skating a line and that almost never leads to a good thing without a lot of collateral damage.
I'm really concerned with this whole Giles plan. And, I have to wonder if they're leading Faith and he to a royal fight?
Page 06: Alasdair tries to play on Angel's sense of guilt over threatening a harmless old man, but he's not biting -- so to speak.
He points out that Whistler's been on a tear to find and collect magical items, and yet Alasdair's collection remains wholly untouched. He next points out that Alasdair used to be a powerful mage, and now is stuck as an eccentric old man.
He accuses Alasdair of being half in Whistler's camp, hoping they'll bring magic back to restore his own powers as a side effect and that's really what he's doing with resisting them now.
Faith immediately jumps on Alasdair, saying that she knew there was something hinky with him all along.
Page 07: Alasdair points out to Angel why Whistler hasn't been by... and it's not a deal with him. It's that he has a mystic doohickey called the Maskstone that cloaks his collections magical emanations to remain undetectable.
He also tells Angel that he's right, of course. At present Alasdair doesn't have the ability to stop Angel from robbing him blind, but he also tells him that he won't give him an excuse to justify victimizing him in the process.
This seems to strike the guilt chord in the vampire.
Page 08: Faith tells Angel that she believes Alasdair's explanations and that he's not a villain.
Alasdair turns on Faith and accuses her all along of having serious reservations and doubts about messing with life and death via magic, but that she's allowed herself to go along anyway, because of her own selfish desires to have Giles' support back in her life. He accuses both of them that they don't want Rupert back for his sake, but for their own selfish reasons.
Faith cops to it. But she points out that Alasdair is just as guilty of selfishness as they are, with putting his collection - the thing that makes him feel special, now that he isn't a wizard - above friendship.
She gives a great line: "Ain't no Saints in this room."
Commentary: I loved this page for Faith's vocalizing how every one of them has ulterior motives for their opinions either for or against trying to resurrect Giles. It shows, again, how Faith has matured over the years since she accepted responsibility for the deaths she caused. I like the way that she admits to how selfish she is in wanting Giles back, no matter the risks, but also the way she twists the argument to Alasdair's being less concerned with risks to Rupert, than in being concerned that he won't be special through his collection anymore.
Page 09: Faith isn't only down on Alasdair's pretensions, though. She next turns on Angel for his own "whatever I want" attitude about this plan. She tears into him for straying into robbing an old man because he can't deal with the fact that he caused what happened to Rupert. She tells him in no uncertain terms that she will stop him.
He points out that he doesn't know where they can get the pooled magical energy they need if not from Alasdair, but she points back at Whistler, Nash and Pearl and their hoard. As she says, they have to take 'em out anyway. Angel states that he wanted to bring Rupert back first before the confrontation, because he doesn't think he'll survive the battle with Whistler. Faith says that "we" probably won't survive, but she also knows that stopping them is far more urgent that Giles' return to the living.
She tells him that even if he did bring Giles back, if innocent people are killed because they didn't put stopping Whistler above Rupert, he'd be in Hell anyway. Angel tries to justify putting him first in that he deserved better than what he got, but Faith waves this aside. She points out that Rupert may not have wanted to die, but he was always ready to for the cause.
Alasdair interrupts their argument to say he's changed his mind. He's willing to lose his last tie to his glorious past in order to give Rupert a chance at life, again.
Commentary: I also really liked Faith's taking down Angel's blindspot to his own selfishness and his risking Whistler literally killing billions in order to salve his conscience regarding Rupert's death. I especially love her accusations that Angel is still trying to make everything about himself, rather than what's best for everyone else.
Page 10: Alasdair, now that he's onboard, sends Faith and Angel to collect Sophronia and Lavinia to help with the ritual. But, first, he warns them of what exactly could be the outcome for Rupert if this goes wrong to ensure they're understanding all that they are risking [which will take place off-panel].
Page 11: At Faith's, Angel tells the great-aunts it's time. They promise him they're ready.
Page 12: Sophie takes Faith aside and reminds her of her promise in regards to their earlier conversation about the risks of trying this ritual. She accuses Faith of buying a bit too heavily into the promise of this miracle and wonders if she'll do what needs to be done, if things go awry.
She shares with Faith that she's seen first hand what can happen and recalls a situation during The Blitz when a young soldier she loved was blown apart by a bomb. She couldn't see past her own pain and resurrected him... but didn't heal anything first. She tells Faith that the hardest thing she's ever had to do was to put it right for him.
Faith gets the message and assures her that no matter how badly she wants Giles back in her life, if he's suffering, she'll take care of him.
Page 13: Faith joins Angel on the roof to check on how he's doing. She wants him to understand that even if they return Giles, it doesn't make everything he did as Twilight go away. It won't change other people's opinion of him.
He says he knows, but this is one thing wrong he's done that he can actually fix.
Page 14: Back at Alasdair's, everything is set for the ritual. Alasdair begins feeding his valued items into Apollo's Brazier and warns Angel that their energy will dissipate. Angel sets to reading the ritual.
Page 15: Angel staggers as the death curse from the spell strikes him down, as feared. But, as hoped, the fact that he's already dead keeps him from dusting away. Alasdair takes the ritual from him to continue it, stating that his Aramaic was appalling.
As Alasdair continues, Giles' body gets the whole glow thing. Angel tells Faith that he thinks it is actually going to work.
Which is Nash and Pearl's cue to blast their way into Alasdair's study....
Page 16: The twins are accompanied by Whistler. He orders them to keep Team Angel off of his back while he collects.
Angel yells at Alasdair, Sophie and Liv to continue with the resurrection while he and Faith take care of their attackers.
Page 17: Nash tells Angel that everyone he wants to kill is in one place and it's like Christmas. Faith snarks that she's just as happy, despite Pearl's promise she's about to lose her tongue and entrails.
Nash manages to hit Angel with his eyebeams, pissed at him for creating Paradise and then trying to leave the rest of them to burn. Angel's face is mutilated by Nash's power.
But all that does is piss him off. He vamps out.
Commentary: There hasn't been a whole lot to analyze in this one since we're setting up the last arc, but I wanted to give a shout to the artwork. The effects of Nash and Pearl's powerstrikes are always rendered in gross ways that helps sell them as truly threatening in ways that their 'psychotic brats' personalities cannot.
I also like it when Angel gets pissed enough to go full on fang mode on a bad guy.
Page 18: Angel manages to slice Nash's wrist with his sword, knocking the psychotic off his game. He yells at Nash for trying to stop him just as he's about to succeed. He then tells Nash if he wants Twilight so badly, he'll have him.
He fangs Nash.
Unfortunately not deeply enough to cause that instant death thing that happens to extras. Nash fires his eyes beams right through Angel's torso!
Meanwhile, Whistler is presumably ignoring Alasdair's burning magical items for the ones still on the shelf, as his trio ignores Whistler so as to get the ritual completed before they're stopped.
Commentary: We also get no explanation for why Whistler has shown up here. Was the ritual detectable, or was Whistler just happening to get around to raiding a former wizard's home and the timing was bad? It's just left there.
Page 19: With Nash's cry of pain, Pearl blasts Faith away from her so she can run to her brother's aid.
Faith takes the opportunity to remind her she shouldn't turn her back on "the bitch with the axe". She throws it cross-room, spinning the blade through Pearl's side.
Page 20: Pearl calls Faith and Angel filthy animals and multi-blasts in their general direction, missing them. But she does stray-hit Alasdair, knocking him to the floor. He tells Sophie and Liv to continue.
Page 21: Whistler interrupts Pearl's attempts at vengeance to remind them that there are greater things to do. He crashes a large obelisk between the combatants and insists that Nash and Pearl join him in retreat with their bag of loot.
Meanwhile, Faith checks on Angel and watches the evil trio fly away. Angel notes that Soph and Liv are completing the ritual. He's less than sanguine about it.
Page 22: At the last, the girls run into problems with the Aramaic phrasing, when Liv thinks she has it and finishes before Faith can help Alasdair over to take over.
Giles' body convulses off of the table, and a horrible yell is heard as it glows bright, blinding white.
Faith turns worried eyes on Angel and asks him what they've just done....
The Good: I liked all of the Faith dialog when agreeing with Alasdair that she's got some selfish motivation for bringing Rupert back, as well as when she puts him down for his own selfish reasons not to try and confronting Angel on once again letting his desperation for redemption blind him to all of the things he'll do wrong to pursue it.
Whenever Pearl and Nash have fought Angel and Faith, the battles have always been well depicted and it's the same situation here. The fighting is dynamic and energetically depicted.
The Bad: Nothing struck me badly.
Other Thoughts: The crossovers between BTVS, and A&F were really welcomed, but at the same time I did find it all to be ... clumsy. Especially the way that Spike was written out to rush off to Buffy's title.
I'm also not convinced that the ritual wouldn't have been disrupted by all of the wild energy attacks going on far more than Alasdair's being hit at the most dramatically convenient moment. It seemed far too pat for Whistler to entirely ignore it. At the same time, I'm ready to buy that part as him having greater concerns and actually welcoming that Alasdair and the girls are too distracted to worry about what he is doing. But on the other-other, I don't know... it feels too convenient that no one stopped a ritual in progress throughout all of this fighting, and that Alasdair, Liv and Soph were still able to focus adequately to keep the ritual going throughout the chaos around them.
The Score: Other than a few clumsy moments, this issue was adequate to set up Giles' final resurrection arc and getting our heroes ready to stop Whistler. But the only pages that really engaged me was the fighting at the end. Eh...
3.25 out of 5 stars