Angel & Faith
“Where the River Meets the Sea” part IV
Writer: Victor Gischler, Art: Will Conrad, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings & [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 with Angel in the sewers under Magic Town where he was hunting for Corky Smallwood, a human transformed into a faerie, along with a bunch of others.
But Corky is waiting for him with some recruited heavy power: Pearl, who has her own reasons to kill Angel.
Pearl tells Angel just before punching him several feet away that she’s there for payback in memory of Nash, killed during the confrontation with Whistler. Corky reminds Pearl about taking up too much time with gloating when she should be killing.
Pearl’s only comment is what a pity it is that Faith isn’t there to die alongside Angel.
Page 02: Speaking of Faith; she’s packed up her duffle and has left her gun and a letter on her room desk. We see her exit the building of Deepscan and call for a cab.
Commentary: And I was totally saying “yes!” thinking she was headed back to England… poor, little me.
Page 03: Meanwhile, with Angel - he continues to have his ass handed to him. She power punches Angel again, sending him flying into one of Corky’s racks of magic-in-a-bottle.
Corky warns Pearl to watch what she’s doing, as he’s afraid of what may happen if her mystic-energy blasts come into contact with the concentrated magic within the special glass containers he’d gotten from The Glass Blower.
Pearl is snotty and uncooperative and tells him to stop telling her how to kill Angel.
Page 04: Pearl takes to the air, shooting a blast at the sewer tunnel to send concrete falling on Angel. She apparently isn’t worried about Corky’s stock of magic-bottles… nor the two delivery kids that haven’t had the sense to run yet.
Angel performs a save, while Pearl mocks the kids for screaming in terror.
Commentary: I’ve always found Pearl and Nash’s backstory of far more interest than their actual characters, and it remains so with Pearl, here. She’s too over-the-top in a superhero comic way to be engaging and I was disappointed to be bored by her beat down of Angel.
I’d mentioned in the review of BTVS, S10, #04 that I feel like they brought Melakor back too soon since we’d just had him as the big bad to close out S09. I feel the same way here -- Pearl should’ve been left on the back burner for half a season and then come out of the woodwork badder than ever to start the wrap of this season [which I’m calling S8, despite the title being labeled S10]. She just wasn’t that interesting before and she’s not that interesting now.
Plus she still talks too much in clichés.
Page 05: With Angel’s back turned and him still on the ground trying to recover his wits, Pearl grabs him at the back of the collar, while the kids are sent scampering.
Angel has gone into fang-mode. He back-swings, catching her in the face with the back of his fist. Before she can recover from that, he then launches himself into a head butt.
Page 06: Pearl clichés that she’s glad he still has some fight left in him. Grabbing him by his coat, she takes to the air again, slamming him through buildings in their way.
Page 07: Now suspended high above the ground, Angel is enveloped in Pearl’s energy field. She gloats to him about being more powerful now. She sends a charged blast through the vampire, eliciting a yell of agony from him.
Commentary: Okay, I don’t know if this is deliberate, but Pearl was already reminding me a little too much of a Marvel character, Aurora - twin to Northstar. Now, with Pearl’s levitating and firing energy blasts, that despite their coloring, are acting an awful lot like lightning strokes I’m getting a huge sense of Storm during her Mohawk period. Pearl’s entire look, right down to her mid-bearing outfits are echoing it pretty strongly and it’s just adding to my feelings that she’s too typical superhero-villain to be appropriate for the Buffyverse.
Although Buffy and Angel could be referred to as superheroes, they’ve always had one foot planted firmly in ‘real life’ as far as characterizations and their characters’ limitations on what they can do. It feels like that subtle line is being crossed with Pearl’s dialog and super-blasts. It’s too much like the lines crossed [deliberately based on the comic covers] during the Twi-Debacle and I’m disappointed that we’re not leaving more of the comic book stuff behind to return to the essence of the Buffyverse ‘feel’.
Page 08: With Angel completely under Pearl’s domination physically, she hesitates with the kill shot [as all villains must] to complain that she really wanted Faith to be in this position right now for what she did to her brother. Angel makes the attempt to talk her down, but she’s not interested. She tells him his only job right now is to float, and die.
We see Angel reaching into his pocket….
Page 09: As Pearl sends streams of energy at Angel, he tosses one of those magic-bearing bottles that Corky was so concerned about.
It explodes impressively.
Page 10: Pearl screams that her eye has been blinded and shouts at Angel that she’ll kill him, but leaves him to fall as she takes off.
Page 11: Angel tumbles down through the street and back into Corky’s hideout, stunned and battered. But with Pearl having blown things, and with Angel looking pretty vulnerable, Corky decides to clean things up by sending in his pixie squad on the attack.
They go after him with wire lines, scissors and scalpels as they had the street kid, Andy before leaving him strung up in Angel’s apartment.
Page 12: The Pixie Squad get in a few nice slices at Angel but once he’s gotten his head back together….
Page 13: Angel, back in fang-mode once again easily clears out Corky’s shock-troops. Corky himself tries to flee, but his wing speed isn’t a match for vampires.
Page 14: Angel ends up returning to Nadira with Corky well in hand. He tells Nadira that he wanted to finish Corky off immediately, but that he’s had trouble trusting his decisions lately. He refers to how things seem to work out… more or less… when he follows her lead and asks for her advice about what to do with Corky Smallwood.
Nadira takes a look at one of The Glass Blower’s glass bottles that Angel also brought her for inspection.
Commentary: Despite my personal ambivalence toward Nadira, both old and new personality, I am glad that their working on building another guest cast for Angel to work with. In my opinion, Angel does best when he has a team that he can count on, and since we’re apparently not getting a relocation of any of the Angel Investigations’ members, we gotta start somewhere. I think I’d prefer the IDW character, Laura Weathermill though. Or Giles’ old comrade, Alasdair but I’m okay with the direction we’re headed.
Page 15: Nadira gets another insight/message about pulling the cork of the bottle. She admits that she is curious about what will happen. The answer is that Corky is surrounded by smoke from the bottle which wraps him up in its coils.
Page 16: Corky is pulled into the bottle, like a weaker genie and Nadira returns the cork.
Angel wonders how she pulled that off, but Nadira claims she didn’t do anything - the magic did it.
Commentary: You’d think Angel would just stop asking her questions. It’s very obvious that she’s off in her own little reality, never mind the exact cause right now.
Page 17: Back with Faith, she’s headed for her taxi cab when Kennedy intercepts her. Kennedy is a little put out over Faith’s trying to bail without giving them an honest attempt, but Faith admits that she didn’t want to join up with Deepscan in the first place - she just didn’t have any idea of what to do next. She apologizes for that, but is determined to go on her way.
Page 18: Kennedy tells her it’s a real shame because something just came across her desk that she thinks Faith would really be interested in. Faith starts to give her a “nice try”, but Kenn shoves a folder into her hands and tells her to just look at it.
Deepscan’s new assignment is to locate and recover a missing man: Riley Finn.
Faith admits to being suddenly interested.
Commentary: So much for Faith returning to the partnership… but on the other hand, bringing the Finns back into things has some potential -- especially since Riley and Faith have never had any sort of sustained interaction when she wasn’t pretending to be Buffy and they’ve never discussed her deception or how it put another strain on Buffy and his relationship, arguably adding another stress fracture that caused the relationship to implode.
We also see a page under Riley’s photo with “MANTHA” on it, so I’m hoping we’ll see Sam again and get a bit more information about her and the Finn marriage.
So, yeah… okay cool, we can put off Faith’s return to England for this mission….
Page 19: Meanwhile, Angel is meeting Brandt at a warehouse run by Corky’s gang. He’s there to load up and transport the remaining bottles of magic flotsam of Whistler’s bomb.
But, they both find the warehouse emptied. Angel wonders why Nadira didn’t mention it [apparently assuming that she has what -- omniscience now?], but the Inspector questions Angel trusting anything that “mad as a march hare” Nadira has to say. Angel admits that she has earned his confidence.
Commentary: I want to just mention one thing here: Although we don’t know enough about Brandt to really have much opinion yet, I do like the undertones here that Angel doesn’t actually like the Inspector. Just look at Angel’s face when he greets him, and the flat way he says his name even though he’s the one who contacted him to come.
This could be of some interest in future interactions if they keep these two “colleagues” at an arm’s distance from actually working smoothly together. Or he could just continue to be a boring character -- we’ll have to see how this shakes out going forward.
Page 20: Meanwhile, a foursome of the Pixie Squad members are dragging a crate magic bottles down the alleys of Magic Town. Dialog indicates they’re responsible for gathering all of Corky’s former supply as well as being aware that Corky isn’t going to be around looking for them.
They’ve now hooked up with a new woman, who has real power to protect them.
Page 21: As the Pixies unload the bottles, a rat watches from the shadows before rushing into the room, startling them.
One of the Pixies begs forgiveness for dropping one of the bottles.
Page 22: The woman, who we could expect to be Pearl, turns out to be Amy… and she’s apparently gotten a handle on not turning into animals that she cannot then undo by will.
Amy ignores her clumsy assistant and goes on to imply that she became a rat to check up on Angel’s doings. She also tells them that she’s been wanting to do something for a long time and now she finally has the magical power gathered to do it, but we don’t learn what it is at this moment.
Commentary: At first read, I was torn between “killing Angel and Buffy” because that seemed the obvious answer -- a little too obvious, considering. So my next thought was it had something to do with vengeance for the loss of Warren, but her “a long time” made me wonder. I figured that this would actually turn out to be about Willow - and that she was going to use the bottled magic to maybe start manipulating the ‘new rules’… but I didn’t see how that would involve Angel.
The actual answer is going to be pretty obvious in retrospect and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I didn’t see it coming, even though I should’ve.
The Good: It doesn't impact my scoring, but I want to say that I do enjoy the artwork quite a bit, especially the work done on the Pixie Squad attacks.
The Bad: Nothing is badly done.
Other Thoughts: Pearl -- she's not "bad" as a villain, but she's just so over the top that I find easily annoyed by her antics, even when there is a decent fight scene going on. She just leaves me "blah" everytime she's taking up comic time.
I like that Angel is again having a team starting to coalesce around him, but I wish we'd get some really dynamic characters here. Neither Nadira or Brandt is making me want to find out more about them and it's dragging down any "scenes" in which they're the focus.
The Score: I've not much to say. The issue is relatively dull, even though we got some fight action and the promise of some mayhem with Amy Madison in London.
3.0 out of 5 stars
My next two reviews are decided:
BTVS, Season 3, "Beauty and the Beasts"
Supernatural, Season 1, "Asylum"