Angel & Faith
“Where the River Meets the Sea”, part III
Writer: Victor Gischler, Art: Will Conrad, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings and [Comicraft’s] Jimmy Betancourt.
Cover: 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 delivered Giles to America, explores her options…
Page 01: We open on Faith stepping between rocker and demon, Billy Rage and a man who tried to shoot him for spending time with his underage daughter.
Faith is much more happy with fighting, now that she knows a demon is involved.
Page 02: Faith orders her fellow Slayer Mai to clear out the civilians, seemingly not noticing that she’s more concerned with what Faith is trying to do to Billy.
As she’s telling the other Slayer that she can handle the demon, she gets a face full of fist and slams onto the ground.
Page 03: This lets Mr. Rage focus on going after the father of his groupie again. But Faith’s not about to just lie there and let that happen. She body slams the huge, muscle bound sleazemeister and then punches him out.
Page 04: Faith is readying to knife Billy when she’s tackled by Kennedy who reports that Mai sent her an emergency text. And Kenn isn’t happy at all with Faith’s actions. She orders for a report.
Faith tells her about the underage girls issue, and then reports that Billy is also a demon in disguise. The demon part of that doesn’t come as a surprise to Kennedy… and once would assume it wouldn’t have come as a shock to Faith either, if she’d bothered reading her assignment briefing.
Page 05: Billy, now returned to a human form since things have calmed down, yells at Kennedy for her agents turning on him when he was the target of the pistol packing daddy. Faith still looks ready to give her client another fist to the face, but Kennedy steps between them.
Kenn tries to discuss the situation, but Billy Rage is having none of it. He fires Deepscan and orders them out immediately. Faith doesn’t take this as any skin off her nose, but Kenn’s got a business to run and she’s frustrated and angry at losing a client over Faith’s hotheadedness.
She promises Faith that they’ll be debriefing at Deepscan HQ where they will be going over in detail just how Faith messed up that evening.
Commentary: At first all I could think about is poor Kennedy trying to run a body guarding service and having a Faith disaster right on top of the Buffy debacle. But then that made me think about the Slayers in general and how the new generation called by the Scythe magic are actually being depicted next to the ‘original two’.
I find it interesting that Buffy and Faith are always reacting as Slayers first, whereas the new Slayers seem to first be young women and then Slayers. You could put this down to the writers just wanting to keep the ‘stars’ doing their own thing, but you could also take this as a subtle difference between the girls actually called and those who had the Slayerhood magically placed on them. The latter interpretation could really be a fascinating topic to explore in future stories.
Page 06: Meanwhile over in England, Angel drops in on Nadira after his search for Corky Smallwood has been a bust. She knows that he’s coming and that he’s failed to find his bad guy. She puts this down to the mysterious somebody that she’s able to hold conversations with.
Nadira tells Angel that he can get to Corky, but only by following a crooked path to him by following her lead.
Page 07: She goes on to describe Magic Town as a place of convergence where paths are crossing each other, giving an arc-title shout out while doing so. She goes on to tell Angel that their new community is still figuring out what it is going to be and she wants to make sure to nudge it in the right direction.
Angel takes this as meaning he needs to find the glass blower.
Commentary: Nadira’s line about Magic Town was also interesting in light of what is happening over in Buffy’s title with the Vampyr book. Not that I think this is what was meant, necessarily, but again it adds an interesting shading to this arc.
Page 08: Angel hits the streets again, this time following Nadira’s advice to talk to the glass blower. He admits to himself he’s not optimistic about whatever she is going on about but also has to admit that as he starts his search, he does feel like things are clicking into place somehow.
Page 09: Angel finds an old glassworks factory on the edge of Magic Town. A nearby homeless guy tells him that there has been strange sounds coming from the building since the weirdness that transformed this section of London.
Angel has to admit that there may be a method to Nadira’s madness.
Page 10: Over in Deepscan’s basement, Faith is getting off a few rounds from her issued gun at the range. Kennedy joins her to discuss what happened with Billy. Kenn also wonders why Faith didn’t go for her gun when things went bad, to which Faith says she was just falling back on the familiar.
She also admits to screwing up by not reading her file beforehand so that she’d know that Billy was a Casanova Demon -- a being who gains sustenance from the adoration of young women. She still believes she did the right thing by intervening due to the girl being a little too young but she gets that she went in not prepared. She asks if this is the part where Kennedy tells her about Deepscan’s great severance package.
Page 11: Kennedy, though, isn’t going to fire her. She does suggest that the Faith has to put behind the Slayer-reactions to fit into the corporate culture of Deepscan. Kenn reminds her that they’re a real business operating in the real world and that she’s just as disgusted that the girl had gotten through security when they were supposed to be carding, but they can’t do everyone else’s job for them.
She tries to make Faith feel a bit better by telling her about Buffy’s blowing a training exercise when she first started, but she also tells Faith that she needs to really think about what it is she wants.
After she leaves, Faith recalls the paper target to her and finds that she’s largely missed with her firearm. She sighs.
Commentary: This really circles to my observation above about how Buffy and Faith are different in their reactions to the other Slayers. The original twosome are always in Slayer-mode, while the others seem able to fit their powers into a more normal existence.
Page 12: Over in London, Angel enters the old glassworks factory. He’s greeted, but not welcomed, by an apparent person who has been transformed by Whistler’s bomb. Angel asks if he’s Rutger, but this man no longer answers to that name - he is only The Glass Blower now.
As Angel tries to get some answers about the things that Nadira says is going on in Magic Town, the glass blower isn’t interested. He tells Angel that he has only one purpose now and if Angel is there to distract him from that purpose, then he’s made a grand mistake.
Page 13: The Glass Blower sounds more than a little mad. He excoriates Angel for getting between him and his artisan craft, distracting from his purpose.
Angel is grabbed up by giant tentacles to find that Rutger is now a huge beast with a vaguely human shaped face. His maw is a literal furnace belching smoke and heat.
Commentary: I like the design of this transformed man, but at first I was rolling my eyes a little bit that an unemployed glass blower would just so happen to have a form designed to help him create glass again. But then I thought once again on what is happening over in Buffy and the explanation that magic is being re-written at the instigation of people’s unconscious will. It makes me think why couldn’t this guy, finding himself in the throws of his changing, not subtly direct that change through thinking over his past… the ‘life flashing before his eyes’ scenario?
So, I’m actually good with this seeming coincidence now.
Page 14: As Nadira promised, finding the Glass Blower has revealed a hint to what Corky is doing with Magic Town. It turns out that this man is actually forging perfect glass bottles for the pixies.
Angel asks why he’s working for Corky and what he’s getting out of the deal.
Page 15: The Glass Blower clarifies that he’s not working for anyone. Corky offered him a challenge to design the bottles with the perfect matrix to allow the bottles to hold magic. The Blower excepted this challenge and found his perfection.
But he needs to get back to his work -- he bids Angel good bye and then throws him out of a second story window.
Page 16: Angel makes his way back to Nadira’s loft sometime afterward. Angel is a little miffed that she didn’t warn him that he’d be faced with such a huge demon, but Nadira states she didn’t know that when she sent him on his quest. Angel is even less happy with this, as it’s hard to have confidence in her visions when she can’t guaranteeing she’s seeing the important details.
But Nadira remains unconcerned. But their further conversation is interrupted by a new arrival seeking sanctuary from her.
Page 17: Nadira looks at her wards and tells Angel that all things are in ebb and flow and everything will work out in its own time.
She tells him that he now needs to go and meet with Inspector Brandt.
Page 18: Over at Deepscan, Faith leaves the shower and goes to her locker. She hears Mai talking about her to a few of the other Slayers, complaining that Faith obviously didn’t feel like she had to do her homework before the assignment. She complains that the A-listers don’t know how to work well with others, but that she’d thought Faith would be different since she’d partnered with Angel.
Page 19: In London, Angel and Brandt talk about Nadira who Brandt knows only by the street talk about the ‘crazy guru messiah lady’. Angel is left wondering just what Nadira thought they should be talking about to make this meeting worth anything.
But as they’re walking, Angel spots something that he’d been seeing around before but hadn’t thought anything of… men with glass jars on the streets.
Page 20: Angel follows a couple of boys who enter a darkened building carrying crates of bottles as he considers that whatever Nadira’s doing, she seems to be able to arrange for coincidences to lead Angel where he needs to go.
But there isn’t time for him to really consider what this may mean for their relationship going forward.
Page 21: In the darkened building, Angel runs into Corky!
Corky tells Angel that with his defeat of Tommy, the hoodlum stepped up his game. He’s decided to call in some real firepower to take on Angel.
An energy blast strikes Angel and is quickly followed up by a glowing fist that knocks him down.
Page 22: Corky’s ‘new gun’ turns out to be… Pearl!
The Good: I like the exploration of Faith trying to fit her Slayer powers into the confines of a regular job, and how the newer Slayers seem to be able to do so with relative ease whereas Faith is continuing to have problems with that.
I also like Kennedy as businesswoman and her giving the Slayers something to do with themselves and their abilities.
The Bad: I'm not finding anything badly done in this issue.
Other Thoughts: But I'm not exactly on pins and needles over Angel's story either. It's kind of dull and Nadira and me still aren't getting on so well. I do appreciate bringing Pearl back into things through Corky, making the little pixie much more dangerous to Angel.
The Score: It's a relatively solid, if dull affair.
3.0 out of 5 stars