Angel & Faith
(AtS, Season 8, Issue 5)
Writer: Victor Gischler, Pencils: Derlis Santacruz, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft’s) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Scott Fischer
Blurb: While Faith is in America working for Kennedy’s rent-a-Slayer company, Deepscan, Angel is in London’s Magic Town trying to aid the people transformed by the magical virus he helped cause. But he’s just becoming aware of additional changes in the world, since Buffy and her gang planted a new seed of magic…
Page 01: We open at night with a bobby outside St. Mary’s Convent. Nearby a church bell peels the time. It appears, judging by the bobby’s dress that this is in the past.
He’s watching a candlelight procession of nuns walk by.
Page 02: Upon arrival within the convent, the virtuous ladies are met by Angelus! An Angelus who has his druthers to party, apparently.
Page 03: A young nun catches Angelus’ eye and as he grabs her, the candle in his hand is tossed from her hand. It lands flame-first against wall curtains, which instantly light. In the meantime, Angelus tells her how pretty a nun she is and what a waste of it, then fangs her neck as the other nuns are running for their lives.
Page 04: Outside the convent, firefighters are pumping water at a blaze that looks out of control already. Angelus strolls out of the fire with the fallen nun in his arms, to the surprise of the firemen.
Commentary: I was really caught by the artwork on this page in particular. It’s beautiful with the orange and blacks. And I like how Angelus, despite vampires being rather easy to set ablaze judging from the shows, is so casual about strolling with the nun in his arms out of the door -- presumably setting himself up as the hero trying to save the nun. And with the other convent residents scattered in terror, who’s to say he isn’t being a hero?
Page 05: Angel wakes with a start. He rushes to the bathroom to rinse his face. With his daytime sleep now interrupted, Angel chooses to get up and start his day early by heading into the sewers and catacombs under the city… deeply disturbed my what he describes as more than a dream or nightmare.
Page 06: Meanwhile, on the city streets a stressed woman is talking to her husband on her cell. Her arms are full of packages, when she’s bumped by some lame punk-ass. She drops her bags and complains at the rudeness which gets her nowhere.
But a decent bystander offers to assist her, complaining about how awful people have become. He helps her carry her packages to a parking garage to her enormous gratitude.
Page 07: Poor woman. Obviously nobody helps anyone anymore for nothing. It turns out that helpful stranger is actually a vampire… and thanks to what is happening across the pond, our vampire is one of the new breed without any discomfort walking the streets in the daylight.
Our stressed woman is quickly killed.
Commentary: Obviously, I’m very happy with this nod toward the changes that are being wrought over in BTVS, and the acknowledgement of those changes in London that Faith is already aware of from Santa Rosita. It do question why Faith hasn’t at least gotten word to Angel to watch his back from vampires not playing by the old rules, but she has been pretty swamped lately so I’ll let that pass.
Page 08: At the local bar, Inspector Brandt has come in looking for Angel. At a table, Brandt hands a file over to Angel that he’d like him to check out, though Angel isn’t exactly thrilled with the implications that the police seem to think he’s working of them, now.
Page 09: Brandt’s come with the information about her shopping lady. Wounds indicate the vampire attack, but there wasn’t anyplace in the garage for a vampire to hide. What’s more curious, is that this is the third victim of just this sort of attack… as if the vampire in question is deliberately hunting on sunny days… if it is, in fact, a vampire.
Angel offers that he is intrigued.
Commentary: The only thing that bugs me about this is mention that the woman was nearly drained -- that may be, but it looks more like she just plain bled-out. Why is she lying in that much blood, if she’s being killed by a VAMPIRE?
The artwork isn’t making sense for the nature of the attack, I’m guessing for dramatic purposes on the page, and it’s a bit annoying unless we find out that the vampire isn’t actually all that interested in feeding and just likes to have the blood flinging around. And that could actually be interesting in a more humanized serial-killer sort of way -- but I’d have to see that happen before I’d consider this anything but a artwork mess-up.
Page 10: Back at home, Angel reviews the file that Brandt gave him… and drinks….
He tells us in voiceover that he’s become afraid to sleep.
Page 11: Reviewing CCTV security tapes leads Angel to see their victim and the helpful young man in the daylight walking with her and carrying her boxes. Angel recognizes the trace signs of a non-human.
For some reason he calls Lavinia.
Commentary: Annoying, really. Brandt should’ve simply been stated that they had a suspect in the beginning, rather than leave it to Angel to reveal that to us via the recording. Surely the police would’ve already been looking for this guy as a potential witness, if not outright suspect! It’s clumsy writing for no mention to have been made of the guy on the video with the victim moments before she was killed, but then have him revealed in so obvious a manner.
Page 12: The reason soon reveals itself. Angel has set Lavinia and Sophria to act as decoys, allowing Sophria to “run off” and leave Lavinia with too many packages for one woman to manage on her own.
Page 13: Lavinia is still approached by their helpful packages carrier and she spins a tale asking him to help her home since she didn’t drive.
Meanwhile, Angel voiceovers for us that they’ve been at this same gimmick for four days. He’s also wondering at seeing their culprit walking around so brazenly in the sunlight.
Commentary: Um. He did that already. On the videotape that you just watched, you dope! I see some more clumsy writing here.
Page 14: Angel, of course, can’t directly follow down the London street. He’s forced to take to the tunnels in the hope he can get to the sisters’ home before his quarry arrives with his potential victim.
He’s alas, undone by road construction blocking his path. Angel hightails it to find an alternate route while Lavinia continues to play her part unawares that she’s not being protected.
Page 15: Liv putters around in the kitchen on the pretense of making tea for her helper. Sophie comes out of hiding to warn Liv that Angel hasn’t arrived, leaving them in a bit of trouble.
Unfortunately for them, the vampire Parnell isn’t very patient with his games. He bursts into the kitchen to tell them that with his cup of tea, he thought ….
Page 16: … he may like a bite, as well!
Both of the women immediately insult him for his banter.
Liv calls him an awful guest and demands he leave, but naturally he ignores this. He does enjoy being scolded by older women though. As he slaps Soph away before she can use her stake, Liv is insulted by his calling her “older”.
Commentary: I’ve not much use for Giles’ great-aunts, but in short scenes they’re okay so I did really like how both of them immediately get on their attacker’s case for his extremely lame lines. I also like that the ladies’ witchcraft isn’t as annoyingly convenient as Willow’s has been, so they can’t just summon blasts to protect themselves which makes their danger much more present.
Page 17: Liv manages to stake Parnell, but finds that his body is tougher than anticipated, and the stake doesn’t penetrate. She grabbed by the throat.
Fortunately for her, Sophria knows her way with a frying pan and even a vampire finds being hit in the face with one to be distracting.
Page 18: The girls separate with Soph going for the pantry closet, while Liv continues onto the bathroom with a rather inadequate lock on the door.
Page 19: Parnell yells through the door, as he’s tearing through it, that he’s enjoying having to work for it, unlike his docile victims before.
One hopes he’s serious, since Liv isn’t done fighting. In the bathroom, he uses a can of hairspray and a lighter, blasting him in the face.
Meanwhile, Sophie has also returned with a mini-crossbow. She lets fly, but unfortunately gave the vampire a heads up by blabbing first. And being one of the new vamps, he mists before the fatal shot can connect.
Page 20: Parnell mists up to Sophria, turning solid enough to grab her for the fatal bite. Angel has arrived by now though, and he snatches Parnell by the throat and throws him across the room.
Before he can capitalize, he takes a solid punch to the face, allowing Parnell to morph into a bat.
Page 21: Sophria isn’t about to let that be the last word. She shoots another round from the mini-crossbow, hitting Parnell in the back. His concentration broken, the vampire resumes his human shape while falling to the floor.
[Soph is also clearly channeling her inner Chief Brody as well.]
This lets Angel get behind him and while he’s threatening Soph again, Angel beheads him.
Angel and the sisters are suddenly faced with vampires doing things that Angel cannot with no explanation.
Commentary: I really loved this entire battle sequence. It was fun and engaging and I liked that it now reveals to Angel that the vampires are doing more than just walking around in the daylight without a data dump scene.
I’ve really liked the artwork throughout this issue.
Page 22: Sometime later, Angel goes for a stroll through the night. He has thoughts of how the vampires have changed once again from zompires to whatever they are now. He thinks briefly of calling Buffy, but admits that neither of them are ready for a conversation.
But, oh crap… that fire from the beginning in Angel’s dream? It turns out it wasn’t some memory of the past… newspaper articles pinned up on a public board describes the very recent fire at St. Mary’s Convent and mentions six deaths.
Angel is too much in thought about Parnell to notice as he walks by them….
Commentary: I’m glad, of course, for the mention of Buffy. I hope that isn’t all we get though, because it’d be too easy for Angel to call Faith at Deepscan and find out everything he needs to know, even if Faith is off on a mission - conveniently. Everyone at Deepscan would surely be apprised of what has happened with the new vampires by now.
I like finishing issues on mysteries, so the convent fire and Angel’s dreams/memories tying to it has my attention. Especially the realization that the dream could mean that Angel was the culprit unconsciously… or… oh, man… that Angelus has found a way to break free when Angel sleeps??
Yeah, it definitely has my attention.
The Good: I like the way that Angel's thoughts about his dream/nightmare feeling like more than that directly translates to the end of the issue where we find out that the convent fire just happened. It opens up a whole new mystery, disturbing in the possibilities!
I always like inter-title continuity between the Buffyverse and Angelverse and I really appreciate the books keeping touch with what is happening in each title.
I actually liked Liv and Soph in this issue and really enjoyed the battle in their apartment against Parnell. And the way that this is used to bring Angel up to date on the changes in the vampire population.
The Bad: The artwork showing that victim in SO much blood... from a vampire attack... bugged me a lot. It's just not credible.
Other Thoughts: I don't like how Brandt's conversation with Angel didn't mention the suspect clearly on the tape with the victim, as if this is supposed to... what... be a mystery? Make Angel look brilliant for recognizing a clear suspect when he sees him? I'm not putting it in the bad, because later Angel's thoughts make it look like Brandt did tell him about the guy and that he suspected a demon [explaining Angel's involvement in the case at all], so I don't understand why the writer didn't include that information. It wasn't to imply the police missed something obvious - it was just an artistic choice that I find confusing.
The Score: Except for a few hiccups in the writing, I really enjoyed this issue overall. The Great-Aunts weren't annoying Komedy Reliefy, while still being their basic selves and the mystery in that ending has me interested in what is going to happen.
3.50 out of 5 stars