Angel & Faith
Season (not 10) 8, Issue 01
“Where the River Meets the Sea” part I
Writer: Victor Gischler, Artist: Will Conrad, Colorist: Michelle Madsen, Letterer: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft’s) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover Art: Scott Fischer
Blurb: Angel and Faith resurrected the Watcher Rupert Giles and saved the world from a magical virus, sacrificing a corner of London to do it. The affected area – now called “Magic Town” – is filled with people transformed into magical creatures, some struggling to survive, some abusing strange new powers. Now Angel is once again looking after the fallout of his actions, while Faith, having brought Giles to America, explores her options…
Special Note: I'm going to issue a warning for drawn gore effects (just lots of blood) in the aftermath of one murder on one of the page scans, for those of you really susceptible to that sort of thing.
Page 01: We open in London, in the section called Magic Town. We’re following a guy in a hoodie who startles when he hears the sounds of wings echoing off of the buildings.
He breaks into a panic and runs down an alley, which is never a good idea. Whoever is following him is named Corky and tut-tuts Andy for thinking he could get away.
Page 02: Andy is being menaced by a squad of Pixies, including the boss – Corky. He accuses Andy of “holding out on him” and offers that he’s about to be taught a lesson.
Page 03: Andy is attacked by the squadron of Pixies as their short, sharp talons and various implements like scissors to inflict injury on him.
From just off panel, a hand comes into view. The hand is holding a trash can lid, which is used to ‘spang’ the flyer with the scissors.
Another Pixie is snatched out of the air and threatened with a crushing.
Page 04: Of course, it’s Angel. He snarks at the little criminals, while the one he’s holding bites his finger, shocking him into letting go.
Page 05: Corky summons the squadron to show Angel who runs Magic Town, but Angel uses the trash can as Captain America’s shield to disperse his primary henchman, barely missing Corky himself.
As the squadron buzz bomb Angel, Corky warns Angel that vampires are old news in the new world order. Angel’s response is to smack a minion out of the air. Behind him, we see more of the Pixies – one of them appropriately armed with a wooden pencil.
Page 06: Angel spins on them in full vamp face and snatches another Pixie out of the air – giving him a good squeeze. This convinces Corky to retreat for the moment. He warns Angel that they’ll be settling up with him later.
Angel tries to check on Andy, but the boy shouts at him that “she” told him not to talk to him because he’d make things worse. Before Angel can get any other answers though, he takes off running.
Commentary: I like the idea of Magic Town sorting itself out into a suburb all on its own in London after the mystic bomb, and the design of the Pixies is interesting. I also liked the idea of Angel tangling with an enemy that doesn’t seem like it would be much of a fight, except for the numbers game they’re bringing. I do question just how these “random supernatural changes” would cause Corky’s gang to all just happen to turn into Pixies for him to command, though. Since that seems a bit nitpicky, I’ll just shrug and let it go.
What I’m having a more difficult time with is Corky actually “running” Magic Town. Unless these supernatural creatures end up with some sort of immunity to all of the other powers in town, I find it hard to believe that even a multitude of these things would hold control of the criminal element.
Page 07: Elsewhere, Kennedy and Faith are in a sports car. They’re in Santa Rosita making their way toward finding Buffy and getting the ‘sitch with all of the zompires in town… as we saw in BTVS, S10, I01.
A pair of zompires make a surprise attack on their vehicle, and Faith ends up totaling the car into a phone pole.
Page 08: Faith jumps out of the car to engage the zompires, but there isn’t any need. Koh is there already and he quickly beheads them with his energy blades.
Page 09: Kennedy is already aware of who Koh is, of course. She asks him what is up. He tells her that he’s helping to drive the zompires in town toward the center district where Buffy has laid a trap.
Kennedy orders the Deep Scan Slayers, Faith and Giles to form a marching line and head toward Buffy’s location.
Giles comments on how efficient Kennedy has made her squad and asks if Faith is seriously considering joining her organization. Faith offers she’s always listens, but it sounds doubtful that she’ll sign up.
Page 10: Back in London, Angel has joined Rupert’s great-aunts in their brownstone to avoid daylight. They discuss the current chaos involving Magic Town and the altered residents there. In addition, there is mention of how chaotic magic seems to have become as well – shown by the fact that a spell to rejuvenate Lavinia’s grey hair has gone out of control. She’s unable to stop her hair from growing wildly.
This is put down to the Magic Bomb detonated by Whistler, as no one in Angel’s book is yet aware of Willow’s new wild-magic Seed which is rewriting the rules of magic use.
Angel mentions how the guy he tried to save from the Pixie Squad seemed more afraid of him. Sophie puts this down to everyone in Magic Town being afraid of everyone else and trying to cope with how everything has changed. But she also reminds him that he’s not responsible for every single person in town – something that Angel doesn’t sound like he believes.
Commentary: I’m really glad that they didn’t just short hand Angel finding out about the recreated Seed, here and explaining everything away. It’s nice that Angel is stuck thinking that his experiences with Whistler are what is causing everything wonky that is going on, when really it’s probably the Magic Bomb mixing it up with The New Seed’s impact on the world.
I’ll be interested in seeing if Angel & Faith and BTVS collaborate on each other’s developments and if there will come a time when they’ll have to sort through Magic Town together. That would make an excellent way to have Buffy and Angel deal with what happened under Sunnydale when he was Twitlight… although, not revisiting that debacle will always work for me too.
Page 11: Elsewhere in Magic Town, Andy is out looking for Corky. He takes to the sewers and assures the crime boss that he has found more of something or another. It’s a greenish, glowing something in a bottle.
Corky accuses Andy of talking to “that yank” Angel, but Andy tells him that wasn’t his fault. He insists that he’s finding all of the mystic stuff that Corky wants, just like he’d promised he would. Corky faux-reasonably says he believes him, but that he still needs to convince “the boys”.
Page 12: Andy sees the Pixie Squadron and senses his doom. As they close in from above him, Corky tells Andy that everybody is going to learn what it means to cross him and his boys… and Andy is going to be delivering the message loud and clear, especially to Angel.
Page 13: Meanwhile Angel has used tunnel access from the Fairweather’s place to return home. He comments during his hike that London’s tunnels are even more extensive than Sunnydale’s because of the city’s age and the habit of building newer tunnels around older tunnels.
Page 14: When Angel enters his new apartment, having moved out of Rupert’s place now that he’s back, he finds Andy waiting with the message from Corky. It’s in the form of his body being suspended on the ceiling and his blood being used as ink on the wall.
The message is for Angel to mind his own business.
Page 15: Back in the States, Faith and the others see Buffy in the early morning light fighting a large group of vampires. We see scenes of BTVS, S10, I01 from Faith’s viewpoint as Deep Scan, Faith and Rupert pitch in to help out.
Page 16: Faith shouts to Rupert to hang on, while she battles some vampires trying to tackle her. She mentions how much harder it seems to be to stake them.
Page 17: She turns to check on Giles, only to see him in his loving embrace with Buffy and both of them crying in relief to see one another again. She gets hurt-face, which Kennedy notices. But Faith passes it off as nothing and focuses on more ass-kicking.
Commentary: Obviously, I loved the continuity between these first issues of the two titles. It was a nice bridge between Angel and Faith and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s comics.
But I’m bummed out at both Faith being hurt by Buffy and Giles’ relief at seeing each other again and how it does always feels like Faith is coming out as Buffy’s second-ran. This is why I liked it so much when she was helping Angel: The relationship was much more equalized between the two of them than it can ever be between her and Buffy. And, unfortunately, Giles is always going to be much more emotionally connected to Buffy – it sucks for Faith, but this shouldn’t be coming as a blow to her, as it’s only to be expected. But the really bad thing is how Faith allows that to diminish her own relationship with Rupert in her own eyes. A lot of Faith’s pain at comparing herself with Buffy and feeling like she’s always coming up short is actually self-inflicted wounds. It hurts me to see her continually doing this to herself instead of just accepting Rupert’s relationship with herself as something totally divorced from his and Buffy’s relationship… it shouldn’t be a contest and Faith shouldn’t keep making herself feel like she’s lost.
Let me stress that was character commentary: It's completely in character to see her react this way and I'm not speaking out against the handling of her character by the writers.
Page 18: Angel, now pissed off, goes in search of answers despite the daylight. He asks questions, he watches and listens to what is going on in the streets, he plays detective in the pubs and he collects the local gossip while not making any scenes.
Page 19: Well, except when subtle leads to outright refusal to cooperate from his interviewees… then he gets more aggressive.
This all leads to an attic room, where he busts in ready to rumble with Corky.
But, what he finds instead are regular people eating hot soup.
Page 20: In Santa Rosita, it’s post battle. Everyone is greeting the newly teen-dream Giles. In the meantime, Faith is looking on this and pondering her place in the dynamic.
Kennedy walks up and compliments her on still knowing her way around a fight. She asks if she’s still interested in joining Deepscan. Faith tells her that she’s always ready for the next big thing and tells her they should blow this popsicle stand.
Page 21: In the attic room, Angel is greeted by an elderly man named Kent. He tells Angel that they’ve been expecting him because “she” foretold that he’d make his way there. Angel mentions that he’s heard of the mysterious “she” before and wonders who they’re talking about. Kent offers that he can ask her himself.
Page 22: It turns out that the mysterious “she” is an altered Nadira, the Slayer.
She welcomes him in and tells him that she’s been expecting him. To his look of confusion, she offers to help him get back on the right track.
Commentary: How many times is Angel going to need somebody to help him get back on track?? Y’know, that needs to be a major arc… Angel figuring out a way to stay on the right track without somebody else’s help!
And, I’m not going to lie – the first thing I felt on the Nadira reveal was disappointment. I wasn’t that into her as a supporting character before and I’m not now. I really, really wanted it to be Drusilla behind the door with her latest attempt to find a meaning in her life outside of her being a vampire in a world where their existence is public. It could’ve been indirectly and subtly tied [due to cross company legalism issues] back to her appearance in “Spike” when for a brief moment she had access to a soul, and tied to her appearance last season when she was briefly sane. But, it’s not to be.
The Good: I like all of the continuity nods with Magic Town, Faith’s arrival in Santa Rosita, Nadira’s infection by Whistler’s magical virus bomb, Angel taking offense to being called a ‘yank’ when he’s actually Irish and the fact that with vampires being so public over the last year and a half to two years, nobody is shocked & awed by his mere presence anymore.
I also liked the nod to Angel’s history as a PI.
The Bad: Nothing is badly done.
Other Thoughts: I enjoyed this issue as a start for the new season, but it didn’t really grab and hold my attention the way I’d hoped. I did like the gruesome scene with Andy’s remains but Corky just isn’t a villain that can impress. And the side characters of Lavinia, Sophronia and Nadira weren’t all that engaging last season; we really need some interesting minor characters to fill out Angel’s new location. It’d be really nice if Connor would come over to London to be with his dad. Or have Faith return to where she was actually making a life for herself just fine.
I did like that time was split between Faith and Angel and since her name is still in the title, I’m going to assume they’ll continue in that vein but the thought of Faith and Deepscan doesn’t really work for me as an ongoing interest and Kennedy remains somebody that can be an occasional presence, thanks.
The Score: 3.25 out of 5 stars