Angel & Faith
"What You Want, Not What You Need" part two
Script: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Rebekah Isaacs, Dan Jackson
Blurb: Angel's plot to resurrect Rupert Giles [spoilers for first few pages of this issue... tacky!!]. But they'll have to deal with the fallout from that later. Right now, Angel and Faith need all the help they can get to defeat Whistler, Pearl, Nash, and their plan to overhaul life on earth with a magical virus!
Page 01: Our gang is surrounding Giles' corpse as blue-white energy engulfs it. Giles convulses with a yell. Faith yells at Angel, wondering what they've done.
Commentary: The color scheme for this page is really nice, and I like the way that Dan incorporated the shadows across our witnesses to depict the blinding light surrounding Rupert.
Page 02: Angel tells Alasdair that the spell was interrupted, but Alasdair is able to continue with the chant. He instructs everyone to focus all of their love on Giles. Liv remembers Giles as a child when he would run around the home happy and pretending to be a fighter pilot. Sophie remembers the day that Giles' father hauled him away to be indoctrinated as a future Watcher.
Both plead with him to give them the chance to set his life back to right.
Commentary: Which is actually pretty clever, because we're seeing why the resurrection takes the form that it will.
Page 03: Faith remembers Giles' advice and she tells him that she has never said the following in her life to anyone, but she needs him.
Meanwhile, Angel is remember the Twi-Angel's last moments with him and the breaking of his neck. He offers that he just wants to fix this one thing.
Meanwhile, Alasdair continue to chant in Aramaic as energy continues to wash over the room, focusing on Giles' body.
Page 04: We see Rupert sitting up. He's a bit... different... though he doesn't yet know it. As everyone is staring at him a bit gobsmacked, he shows his impatience since he already has knowledge of what is happening due to both being trapped in Eyghon and Angel's psyches.
"Yes, yes. You've resurrected me. Huzzahs all around."
He calls to them to pick their jaws up off the floor and focus on the extinction-level crisis they have yet to stop.
Page 05: A very short time later, and Rupert is staring at himself in a mirror, "Oh... bugger! What have you idiots done?"
Alasdair focuses on the great-aunts and points out that he hopes that they were focusing their memories on Rupert as an adult. They seem less than sorry that they de-aged him a bit during the spell. In fact, they're a bit disappointed because they both had focused on him being even younger, rather than this edge of puberty version that has showed up.
Giles is pissed off over this complete botch.
Angel's just relieved that it actually worked and sees Rupert's body alteration as a minor glitch.
Commentary: So, let's discuss my feelings for a bit on the Giles' resurrection since we've done it now. I've been very ambiguous, to say the least on allowing Rupert back after his death in the line of duty in Season 8 of BTVS. It always feels cheap for there to be a revolving door where death is concerned, and resurrection shouldn't be taken lightly in fiction, or the audience can stop caring about the characters [Marvel Comics, in a nutshell... and the latest SPN where Dean died AGAIN, though in that case there is something else happening that is a twist and so may save the cliche].
So to Giles? Well. I'm still ambiguous, but slightly less worried because they're appearing to explore a new Rupert -- one we've not seen before, in that he has to now cope with a body that is a foreign territory and all of the chaos that comes with puberty. At least they didn't just reset-button him, y'know? But, at the same time, this still feels like a bit of a cheat to me. It would've made me feel better if he was reset psychologically/mentally as well, rather than clearly being an adult Rupert in a cusp-of-teen body.
There is still the possibility that we'll see a Rupert struggling with the new choices presented to him, but right now it feels more like we'll just be seeing an adult Giles with puberty jokes coming. That won't be satisfying in the least. At the same time, I also don't want him to be 'reset' back to his actual age either, because that will completely undercut this entire season of struggle to bring him back at all.
Since I believe that something this momentous should come with a heavy consequence, and since the 'consequence' in this case appears to be a Giles whose body isn't what he expected, they should at least keep him as is going forward. But to make it really worth doing to me, I'm going to need some serious thought given to how Giles might want to change everything about himself now that he has the chance - as well as how the people closest to him may react to his thoughts of not just being a carbon copy of the man they used to know.
I really hope that the BTVS S10 and A&F S(8) writing teams are going to get creative with the storytelling when it comes to Rupert's emotional, psychological and mental development after this huge event.
Page 06: Angel offers they can find something later to re-age him [see my point above] and turns to see how Faith is handling this.
She asks Giles if it's still him inside where it counts. Rupert is distracted by her cleavage. She spins away, glaring at him as she covers her bosom with her arms, while he embarrassed, tries to assure her that yes, he's himself.
They both don't look at one another even as Faith tries to say they're five by five.
Page 07: Angel tries to compare Giles' coming back and how difficult this all must be to Buffy, but Rupert shuts that down. He tells Angel that he'd just as soon be happy that the vampire took him from being enthralled to Eyghon and then trapped replaying all of the awful things he did as Angelus. Except - he's having a bit of trouble with the fact that Angel is the one who murdered him in the first place. And on top of that, he had the gall to use obscene magic that he knew Rupert would never condone to do it, and did it during a brewing apocalypse instead of focusing on the actual crisis at hand.
But even putting aside everything Angel did to him, in the end he didn't even get the resurrection correct, bringing him back as nearly unrecognizable!
Commentary: Okay, I was on-board with Rupert's ranting until that last part. Considering that Angel, Faith, et al. did save him from an eternity of being damned to Eyghon's slavery, his bitching about being teen-ed seems really petty. His continued bitching about the things he can't do now legally because he's technically no longer an adult seems like small potatoes, really.
He can still do those things after all... he'll just have to wait a few years. Or find the 'reset' magic.
But like I said, I was totally onboard during his scathing rant at Angel for his disregarding everything more important, including Giles' own feelings about "obscene sorcery" in order to assuage his own guilty feelings.
I think that every writing team has basically made this Angel's default [which I'm actually okay with]: That he keeps trying so hard for his own redemption, that he inevitably acts selfishly, while trying to be selfless. It's been stated multiple times elsewhere [including S6 in IDW, I believe] that Angel's always trying to take a shortcut to making up for Angelus and it always turns out to be the wrong move. Something which he only seems able to spot in hindsight.
Page 08: Sophie and Liv only make things worse by calling Rupert's valid rant "adorable".
Alasdair interrupts to take the focus off of Giles and put it where it needs to be: Whistler and his plans to infect the world with his magic virus.
Angel offers to call Buffy, but Rupert is adamant that she not know what is happening in regards to himself and his return. He points out that Buffy wouldn't be able to get there in time [Team Angel not yet knowing about Willow's successful return -- and it has happened at this point, as we'll see alluded to near the end of the issue -- so she'd be able to teleport over] and that he wants his resurrection to 'sit' for a few hours to ensure it is stable before announcing it.
Page 09: Angel starts to delegate assignments to ready for the big battle against Whistler, while Giles snots that strategy used to be his thing.
Faith meanwhile, heads out to get her head around things.
Page 10: Back at Faith's later, Rupert is preparing as best he can for some possible spellworks using the ambient mystic energy that he may be able to tap from Whistler's doings. He has trouble with everyone continue to stare at him... especially when his great aunts show up with new clothing for him and want to play dress up.
"I wasn't resurrected. I'm in Hell," he mutters.
Page 11: Later, Rupert makes his way to the roof for some time away from his aunts. He finds Faith already there, having returned from some demon den raids with weaponry, but needing to collect herself. It's also noticeable that Faith has dressed in layers.
Rupert lays a hand on Faith's shoulder and asks after her. She tells him that she was never much of a weeper until she started hanging out with Angel and blames an angst contact high for her current state.
He apologizes for staring at her boobs earlier, but she blows it off as his being 12. This leads to another rant on Rupert's part that he isn't, he's a grown man under the skin and shouldn't be acting like a hormonal child.
Page 12: Rupert next apologizes for Faith for leaving her behind and then coming back as the opposite of what she needs. But she points out that what she needs is to get her own act together, and to stop looking for a daddy figure to fix everything for her.
Giles is understanding, pointing out that it was a tremendous loss to not have had a father she could trust growing up.
Page 13: This brings on more tear-duct action on Faith's part. They hug... but Rupert's body once again betrays the moment between them, and they have to quickly separate and pretend his teen-woody didn't happen.
Page 14: Faith tells him not to worry about it, but Rupert is having problems with coping with his new existence. He ends up telling her that he needs to amend his statement from earlier: He didn't come back the opposite of what she needed, because she actually didn't need him anymore at all. He believes they were all doing just fine with coping without him [gleaned from Angel's memories], which makes him not only redundant but also back as a completely wrong to boot.
Page 15: Later, Giles has left the house to return to Alasdair's. They talk about their friendship, after Alasdair relieves Rupert of the scotch he poured for himself and replaces it with a soda.
Alasdair admits to Giles that he'd advised Angel and Faith to leave him dead. Rupert isn't concerned as he tells Alasdair he'd have advised the exact same thing.
Page 16: Alasdair brings up the anomoly of Giles being around 12 years of age, where Sophie and Liv had been concentrating on his being even younger. Giles tells him that he could feel himself being reshaped, but fought against it because he kept thinking during his enslavement about what he'd be like instead if he'd had those few years to adapt to his destiny rather than being thrust into the Watcher academy so soon. Maybe he'd have never summoned Eyghon and been a better man.
His fighting to not go back to the age of his first early mistakes must have kept him from de-aging as much as his great aunts were hoping. Alasdair asks what he intends to do with his new youth.
Page 17: Back at Faith's even later, Rupert has once again taken the role of strategist and is giving instruction to each other member of their raiding party.
Commentary: I really liked the scenes of Rupert dealing with Faith, Angel and Alasdair in regards to his being back as different than they last saw him. This is the sort of thing I hope we'll continue to deal with going forward, but considering Whistler's diabolical plot, it did feel a bit out of place here. This is the type of stuff to go through after the evil plot is disbanded, not now.
Still, the dialog is pretty strong, especially when it came to his yelling at Angel for his continued screwups and with Faith's desire to continually find a mentor-figure to tell her what to do.
Page 18: Before heading out, Angel brings up maybe facing Whistler alone but Faith interrupts with the pointlessness of even suggesting that crap.
Rupert takes a moment to impress on everyone that they're headed into a dangerous battle. He wants them to keep focused on the task at hand, even if he falls. In other words - don't try to resurrect him again.
The sentiment is shared by all for themselves as well... except Liv and Sophie who volunteer they very much want to be resurrected if it's possible.
Also mentioned in passing is the messages they've left for Buffy in case they need to have a second line of defense.
Page 19: Angel hauls out a lodestone and map to trace down the mystical emanations from the loot that Whistler stole to work his plan. The powerful pull of the Cotswolds is mentioned, but Rupert mentions it's just the Deeper Well.
Alasdair questions such a flare of energy coming from a place where everyone is dormant, but Rupert then detects a building intensity much closer to their location.
The lodestone shatters over Hackney on the map, giving them the location of Whistler but the intensity of the energy is bad news.
Commentary: And, of course you'll realize that the mention of having to leave messages for Team Buffy, the lodestone picking up the energy at the Deeper Well and Alasdair's observations are all shout outs to the fact that Team Buffy is currently in England fighting the Mystic Council for access to the Deeper Well in their attempt to save Dawn from fading out of existence.
I do loves me the continuity... as you'll also be familiar with if you've spent any time reading my reviews. So, yes -- I may have did some embarrassing bit of squee for this page... just a little bit.
Page 20: The reaction of the lodestone has Rupert and Alasdair realizing that Whistler's already in the act of releasing the virus on London!
Page 21: Alasdair sends Faith and Angel off over the rooftops, where they can travel faster to intercept Whistler. Meanwhile, he, Giles, Liv and Sophie race for the sister's car. Meanwhile, meanwhile Nadira has been keeping tabs on Faith and Angel and she watches them taking off across the city. In the distance, mystic energy is flaring over the building tops in the pre-dawn sky.
Page 22: On a rooftop in Hackney, the twins are eye-beaming mystic energy onto the objects collected by them for this purpose. As Angel and Faith arrive, Whistler assures everyone that everything's about to be different....
The Good: I really enjoyed the bold coloring in this issue.
I also liked the nod that Angel's healing factor isn't instantaneous. He's still got boils on his face from last issue's power strike by Nash.
I really like the conversations between Rupert and Faith and especially Rupert's tearing into Angel over his actions [with a caveat covered in 'other thoughts'].
Y'all know how much I loves the inter-title continuity nods.
The Bad: Once again the komedy relief of Liv and Sophie felt overdone for the circumstances. There is a fine line with these characters as they swerve close to cartoonish and here they went over that line in my opinion.
Other Thoughts: I'm still keeping Rupert's resurrection here in 'other thoughts' because whether I see this as good or bad will largely depend on how it's handled going forward. I don't like that he wasn't left dead since that was The Major Event of BTVS, S8 but the amount of work Angel had to go through to retrieve him wasn't quick and easy, so at least they did it right. It's also a plus that they didn't just have status quo Rupert show up.
Even though I liked the dialog after Rupert is resurrected, I do wonder about the timing for all of these heart-to-heart chats. It seems like they have more urgent matters to attend to... this is especially true of the scenes with Faith and Alasdair. I can more see Rupert unloading on Angel immediately as far as timing goes for these things.
The Score: 3.50 out of 5 stars
Next Review: Definitely BTVS, Season 3's opener "Anne".
Then "Monster on the Campus"
Followed by BTVS, S9 I23 and A&F, S(7) I23 ... but I'm not sure which order yet.