Angel & Faith
S(7), Issue 25
"What You Want, Not What You Need", part 5
Writer: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft's) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Rebekah Isaacs & Dan Jackson
Blurb: Angel's plan to resurrect Rupert Giles has come to fruition. Just not exactly as everyone had expected. 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 and Nash, and their plan to overhaul life on [E]arth with a magical virus!
Page 01: Whistler and Angel are wrestling over the ball o' magical virus energy and its leaking energy transforms the unprotected around it into half-magical, mostly hideous mutations.
Whistler tells Angel that he's had enough of his interference. He acknowledges that the explosion of the virus into the atmosphere will cause a lot of deaths, but he's not concerned about this because of the planet's extreme need for magic's return. He further informs Angel that by fighting him, he's only ended up making sure that he ends up as one of the dead ones.
Page 02: Whistler gives Angel a solid punch and sends him smashing into a car. He tells Angel this is all about the balance. Meanwhile, Faith has been closing in on the two of them with her trusty mace. She tells him to "Balance this"...
... And then gets blasted away with ease....
But as Whistler's attention has refocused on the Slayer, Angel is able to grab up her dropped mace. He clobbers Whistler in the back of the head, and tells him it's about him.
Page 03: He tells Whistler that losing magic has thrown off his balance.
With Whistler taking a follow up shot to the side of the head, he drops the virus ball. He leaps after it and Angel uses this opportunity to tackle him to the ground. Snatching up the virus ball, he assures Whistler that he's about to get it back.
Page 04: Angel slams the ball over the tip of one of Whistler's horns, hopefully keeping the ball of magic from exploding by releasing some of the pressure onto Whistler, himself.
Page 05: Whistler grabs the ball from his horn and calls Angel a schmuck for not realizing that since he'd created the virus ball, he can also plug the hole in it now.
But, it seems that Angel's gambit might have paid off -- Whistler is looking much more like the guy we used to know. Angel likens the dose of concentrated magic that he'd just gotten to having gotten a strong fix, restoring the sense of balance he'd been missing since The Seed was shattered. He implores Whistler to take another close look at what he wants to do to the rest of the world with a clear view.
Meanwhile, Nadira is lying on the pavement where she'd fell. She's still managing to hang on despite her grievious injuries. Faith rushes to her side, as Angel asks Whistler if "balance" was truly worth the price he was going to impose on every living thing.
Commentary: I like that this arc won't be another fight-fest from beginning to ending, as I was afraid that it was going to be really repetitive with our last two-ish issues. But, even though I like the idea of Angel's helping Whistler return to sanity [and heroism], alas we've returned to that clunky metaphor of magic=heroin for some ridiculous reason.
Sometimes referencing BTVS' tv career isn't good.
Page 06: Faith tells Nadira to hang on and tells her she avenged her squad sisters. Nadira shares that the pain and hate wasn't really worth it, after all, just like Faith had tried to warn her.
Over with Whistler, he and Angel still have a problem in that the ball of magical virus energy is still active. Giles rushes up and asks Whistler if he can shield the inevitable blast, but Whistler tells him it'd take all of his energy and that would put him right back to where he was again, jonesing and mad. Angel tells him there isn't another option to stop the unstoppable explosion coming from destroying the London.
Whistler thinks there is one way left to him.
Commentary: I find myself half-exasperated and half-amused that this magical McGuffin manages to be an unstoppable bomb - that can be drained - but not too much, and a magical energy blast seemingly far stronger than its component parts, and a ball of virus particles and a mass of energy that is none-the-less solid enough to be manhandled like a baseball and....
It cracks me up, because it keeps reminding me of the way that Dr. Myra tried to explain her mind controlling-water soluable-bacteria-gas capsules-that are pellets in "Teenage Zombies". I started to get a little hysterical thinking about it.
Page 07: Whistler decides that Angel is right and the blast effect will need to be shielded, but he also can't risk going back to being the unhinged and dangerous thing he'd become. He generates a shield around not just the magic bomb, but around himself as well.
Angel exclaims the big 'no', but it doesn't stop Whistler from being inside the shield when the blast occurs.
Page 08: As the blast flash clears, Whistler is left lying on the ground looking a lot like Nadira, only worse. Angel rushes to him and asks him what he can do for him. There isn't anything, anymore. Whistler is gravely injured. He does offer that Angel saved him from himself along with a few billion people, which wasn't nothing.
Page 09: Angel and Whistler clasp hands. Angel apologizes for where things have led, after everything Whistler did for him. His mentor admits that he helped Angel become more than the rule book said he could be, but now Angel has returned the favor. He's helped Whistler stop serving the balance, and instead do what is right.
Commentary: Oh, please stop. I'm trying to get with the sentiment... I really am... but it's all so NARMtastic.
Page 10: Whistler holds on long enough to give a soliloquy. It takes five panels but boils down to: Destiny isn't nothing, but the point of reaching the end of it is the people surrounding you and the path you used to get there -- you stare at the brass ring at the end, and you'll find you have nothing to show for you're having arrived. Also, you have to have balance in yourself, before you can balance the world. And he knows Angel can walk the line.
Meanwhile, Faith is still with the also clinging to life, Nadira.
Commentary: Oh, Whistler! Please, stop, please! The NARM is painful, now.
Page 11: Whistler dies.
Angel picks himself up and tells the others that people need their help and he, Faith carrying Nadira, Alasdair and Giles start looking for who needs help first.
Commentary: I'd suggest Nadira... especially with Faith picking her up and hauling her around with so severe body-wide burns! The pain alone should have Nadira's life signs plummeting right about now.
Page 12: Hours later and Angel and Alasdair are in a medic tent. Angel is advising a doctor on how to remove the snakes from a Medusa-Headed woman, currently with a towel draped over them. Alasdair informs Angel that he's been able to find no trace of Pearl. He goes on to say that he observed that she seemingly suffered some sort of energy disruption that hurt her at the moment that her twin died. He offers that she may be dead, too.
Angel tells Alasdair that in his experience, it's never that easy.
We see that Pearl is in fact alive, but only by the hand that is gripping the banks of the river....
Page 13: Before Angel leaves the tent to Alasdair's watch to check in with Faith and Rupert, Alasdair brings up who is going to help Earth maintain its balance now that Whistler has passed.
Angel offers that it will be up to them to do it for themselves.
Page 14: Angel goes out into the early dawn with a blanket wrapped around him. He passes Liv and Soph taking credit for "saving countless lives" because "ask anyone who knows us -- we never think about ourselves at all".
Page 15: With Faith and Giles, they're sitting over Nadira who is on life support but holding on. In fact, she's stabilized and her vitals are strengthening. It seems that the magic plague is changing her, but into what isn't yet known.
Angel picks up on some tension between Giles and Faith. It turns out this is over Giles' taking his house and money back. Faith is insisting that with him not being dead, his stuff is his. Giles doesn't want to leave Faith without monetary comfort after everything she's done.
They reach a compromise.
Page 16: Angel tells them that everything doesn't have to be decided this moment. He points out how all of them have been in combat mode since Rupert's resurrection and they can take a day or two before trying to figure out what is next.
At this, Faith and Giles exchange meaningful glances. Giles excuses himself.
Faith tells Angel that she's leaving.
Commentary: OH! No, this is a bummer. I was ready to see the wacky hijinks of Faith, Angel and Teen!Rupert trying to co-exist - especially when Buffy inevitably wants to see Giles without seeing Angel at all, or getting into another knock-down, drag-out with Faith.
[Checking ahead though, the "Angel & Faith" title is keeping its name. So, I'm hopeful that the worst that will happen is that they'll each split the stories between them and we won't have either of them fade into 'off-camera'. I liked the Angel/Faith team up and am not happy that she's going to go, but on the other hand one has to wonder if maybe we're finally going to get the Faith/Giles team up we should've gotten more of in S8? I'm not sure I'll be happy or not with that, since Giles is now so different.]
Page 17: Angel takes it personally that Faith wants to dump him. She responds that she isn't mad at him and that she helped him because she wanted to, but along the way it ended up costing her too much - the loss of her Slayer squad, who she was meant to be mentoring while she was so distracted with Angel's stuff seems to be the last straw for her.
Page 18: Faith tells him that she's hard to get close to, but once somebody manages it, she's in the habit of putting their needs and wants above whatever she thought she wanted before she met them. It's a problem she needs to deal with about herself. She doesn't want to someday turn around and find out that she's turned into Nadira with nothing left of her but the hate.
She tells him that she's considering taking a job with Deepscan, Kennedy's corporate outfit.
Commentary: Ew, wait. We're going to lose Angel & Faith, but not get Angel & Giles because we were all clamoring for more Kennedy?? Um. I think that the creators are, uh, confused about what we'd like to see for Faith.
Page 19: Faith insists to Angel that her leaving isn't a bad thing: They saved the world, they saved Giles & they're parting as friends.
She also isn't writing off them working as partners again in the future after she's gotten her own head together. They hug.
Commentary: This, again, is all good sentiment but I can't help but not like where Faith is being set up to go. And with Faith going to Kenn's outfit, it feels like she's going to end up more in Buffy's book than in Angel's. I am wondering how they're going to handle this since her name is still in the title for next season. It'd be nice if she quickly tires of Kennedy [as I do, outside of WATCHERS: The Virtual Series] and gets back to London as soon as possible. I'd then rather see Faith rebuild her squad, but with the 'mini-Slayers' who were called.
Seeing Faith as more of a den mother, rather than a Slayer Mentor has some comedic possibilities that could play off well against the usual angstfest of Angel's world.
Fortunately though, either way this isn't the NARMfest that Whistler's exit got... and I'm alright with Whistler being killed off by the way. It was a good end to the side-character and my fears of what they were going to do to him by making him the big bad weren't realized. I kind of like that we're basically wrapping up the whole season for a fresh start in Season. I think we could've done without Pearl as our teaser villain, though.
But, I gotta ask: What the hell is Angel doing with the DERP-face on panel 02?? That's lol-bad.
Page 20: After Faith rejoins Giles, he asks her if he can come with her [YES!!] as he's realized he can't just pick up with his life as he currently is. And the thought of his Great-Aunts being his legal guardians makes him want to sell himself to a third world sweat shop.
He figures he's in the same boat as Faith in a way; They both need to figure out how to actively chart their own ways forward.
Then he throws out, "And if I'm honest, the point in my life when I was at my best -- was when I was with Buffy." [NO!! Only kinda yes, because if anyone needs Giles, it's Buffy and always has been... but personally, I'm still going with NO!]
Page 21: Faith immediately gets prickly, but she offers him a seat on Kennedy's corporate jet that she's already arranged to fly her to America aboard to check out the new job offer. It doesn't seem Giles picks up on just how hurt that comment caused.
Instead, his focus is currently on Angel. The vampire has already guessed that he's going to see Buffy, because - OBVS, he would.
Giles asks about Angel, and he tells Giles to let him know if and when it's a good idea for he and Buffy to talk again.
Commentary: I have always been to two minds in regards to Buffy and Angel. Mostly this has been the repetitive "on again-off again-I love you but we can't be together so let's torture ourselves by not just seperating" thing. I don't mind them being friends, but it always works better for me when their interactions have been brief and they both go on with their own lives. Now, if they'd remove Angel's curse and let everybody know that it is done and then allow them to get together -- fine. And, it's fine if they never are more than they were between S7 and S8. I just don't think they want to do that. I think Joss, mostly, is addicted to the Big Angst Of Bangel and I'm really over it.
So, what I'm saying is that it'll be fine with me if Buffy - after the Twi-Debacle - isn't ready to even admit Angel still exists for a good, long time. Angel's long-distance angsting over it is better than their mutually angst-o-rama-ing at one another.
Page 22: Giles worries over Angel's next big thing. But Angel assures him that he's in an okay emotional place with how everything has turned out.
He points out that Whistler and the twins [Band Name!] left behind a big situation. Thousands of people around them have been altered by the Magical McGuffin Bomb, leaving a 'Magic Town' and they'll need somebody to help them navigate what it all means.
Giles likens Angel's new mission to going back to 'helping the helpless'. Angel tells him it's a nice slogan, but redundant since they're all helpless at some point. The important thing is knowing that somebody is looking out for us.
The Good: Well, first I want to point out that I'm glad we didn't end up at status quo with Giles. I was sure that they were going to use the McGuffin to re-age Rupert. At least this way, there are real and lasting consequences of his resurrection.
I liked Whistler's arc and that it ended with a self-sacrifice [with the caveat under 'other thoughts'].
The Bad: I wanted so badly to be emotionally hurt by Whistler's exit, but it was really ruined for me by his 3 whole pages of NARMY-dialog.
Other Thoughts: Obviously, I have my concerns about breaking up the Faith/Angel partnership, if we're not going to replace it with Faith/Giles. And, the thought that Faith and Kennedy are going to be a thing doesn't fill me with expectation. I'm also reserving judgement on Giles and Buffy if for no other reason than that I don't want to see a whole character dynamic reversion thing happen between them back to their Sunnydale relationship -- there has been too much that has happened for that to be anything but taking everybody backward.
Looking forward, I'm also hoping that we get acknowledgement in Angel's title of the changes that will be wrought with our next review over in BTVS, Season 9. It'd be welcomed, if Magic Town undergoes another alteration that Angel has to deal with due to Willow's actions over there.
That caveat: Although I generally liked the way Whistler was written out, I do have to admit that I spent a lot of those particular pages thinking about how similar this was to Doyle's exit. Considering that Doyle was created to fill Whistler's part and that now they've both been written off with self-sacrificial atonement... well -- I think they could've thought a bit harder on that choice. So, don't hate it - but it was a little too similar, especially since Angel doesn't even acknowledge it in his own thoughts. I don't see how he couldn't have thought of Doyle while kneeling at Whistler's corpse.
The Score: So, I did think this issue nicely wrapped up the season arc and I did appreciate that we killed both a bad guy and a hero to cap things off. The score though was dragged down by the dying dialog of Whistler that went on for too many pages and felt much too "in this special episode of Angel..." to not roll my eyes.
3.75 out of 5 stars