Angel & Faith
S 2, I 11
“United” part 1
Writer: Victor Gischler, Artwork: Will Conrad, Colorist: Michelle Madsen, Letterers: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft’s) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Scott Fischer
Blurb: After a short term of employment with Deepscan, Faith is ready to return to London’s Magic Town - which she left in a hurry after Whistler’s magical virus spread through Hackney, and where Angel has been helping the folks transformed by the virus, keeping the peace, and getting a little guidance himself from Nadira. Now the sudden appearance of Winifred Burkle has given Angel a little bit of a shock…
Page 01: We open on the foggy streets of London with Angel confronting what appears to be Fred Burkle, even though that shouldn’t be possible. First, because Angel S5 assured us that Fred is dead and gone and second, because Illyria was “killed” in BTVS. Though Koh mentioned to Buffy that she doesn’t know much about Old Ones and how much it takes to actually kill them off for real, we weren’t expecting to see Fred either way.
Fred collapses into Angel’s arms and tries to tell him something about Illyria, but he tells her to rest while he gets her to safety.
Page 02: Meanwhile our mixed couple who sought out Nadira’s council is walking arm in arm, happy to have decided to stop worrying about what other people have to say. They’re confronted by a young punk with a switchblade.
Parker thinks that they’re in for a hassling because he’s human and she’s transformed-human, but the knifeman assures him that he and his gang are no racists. They’re just garden variety hold-up thieves who want to do the usual push-down and rob thing on them.
A voice comes from off panel to warn the would be thieves to be on their way.
Page 03: The voice is coming from Koh. He warns that if the thieves don’t leave immediately, he’ll have to break their bones. Our gang leader isn’t impressed considering they outnumber him four to one.
It’s, naturally enough, a huge mistake. Koh breaks in order: jaw, wrist, collarbone and nose among our foursome.
Commentary: Hmm. I’m not so sure about this. I get that we’re basically being told that people remain who they are, even after magical viruses transform half of the population and nothing really ever changes. But it doesn’t quite make sense to me that our thugs would simply assume that four on one odds are going to cut it when Koh is obviously not human. Everyone in Magic Town must know somebody by now who has energy powers… which always trump a knife. It’s kinda hard to accept that your average street robbers wouldn’t be a lot more cautious, and we don’t really need to see Koh being tough guy because we’ve already become familiar with him.
Page 04: Our couple try to thank Koh for the intervention, but he’s not interested in accepting glory for doing what he considers an act more due to boredom.
Conversation reveals that Koh has no particular place to go as he’s been trying to find someone but failed. Nadira’s name is brought up, and it’s a name that Koh has heard before since arriving in Magic Town.
Our couple offer that if he’s looking for someone, she’s who he should meet with.
Page 05: We join Sophronia and Lavinia looking down on somebody who is assumed to be Fred with mild disapproval.
The disparage that she’s not looking “put together” and that’s so important for a woman.
Page 06: It’s not Fred though. It’s Faith, suffering some serious jet lag and looking wrung out. Liv and Sophie are concerned with Faith looking raggedy on her first day at her new job.
Page 07: Faith offers that she doesn’t need to impress as she’s already secured the position and it’s only a temporary position for a week or two anyway at Zane’s clinic for Magic Town.
Liv and Soph are concerned for Faith’s future prospects with her having quit Deepscan so quickly and now only taking a temp job. It’s going to make her resume look unfocused.
Faith switches the subject to thanking them for letting her crash, but the sisters remind her that when Rupert was dead, he had left the house to her anyway. They offer she should move in and they could all live together like sisters… with Liv and Soph being younger sisters, of course. Faith gives them a flat look and responds she’ll be getting her own place, thankyouverymuch.
Commentary: It’s really minor and I’m not a huge fan of the Fairweathers, but I’ll admit that was a cute. And I really continue to love the work that Conrad and Madsen do together.
Page 08: Over with Angel, he’s gotten Fred to Nadira who isn’t happy with the situation. She clarifies to Angel that it’s not Fred personally that Nadira isn’t liking. She calls Fred a boulder on a smooth pond and can sense something powerful within her.
Angel describes Fred’s fate while part of Team Angel.
Page 09: Angel and Nadira describe the situation and how Fred’s arrival has upset the Magic Town Magic. Nadira tells Angel that with the New Seed reigniting magic across the world, the Magic Town Magic can feel it chipping away around its edges and it’s frightened.
Angel asks if Nadira controls the magic, but she denies this. She calls the Magic Town Magic alive and young. Meanwhile Fred calls over to Angel and tells him that she’s remembering.
Commentary: I like this development that [like I assumed] there is a conflict happening between the Magical Transformative Virus magic from Whistler and The New Seed other dimensional magic brought over from Willow. It’s an interesting situation and it’s nice that Angel & Faith is going to explore what is happening with the state of magic in ways that Willow - not being here in this unique place - wouldn’t be aware of necessarily.
The Fred connection is a little iffy to me. But, I’m not going to call out Fred’s resurrection until we find out more about why -- but if this is just a “return the status quo” thing by bringing her back, I’m going to be angry.
Page 10: Over at the new Zane Clinic, they have a situation. One of the transformed people is an Earth Demon and he’s distraught at his state. He accuses the clinic of having a cure already but not sharing it with those who need it.
Page 11: Faith uses a water hose to douse him into immobile mounds of mud, basically paralyzing him until he can reconstitute.
Page 12: With the situation in hand again, Reese mentions Faith staying as a permanent hire but she won’t have it. Our Slayer says that she only came back to London in order to face some things that she left hanging but she’s happy to get Zane’s clinic through its transitional phase.
As part of that, Reese asks Faith to take a meeting with the local police representative in order to start building relationships between the clinic and the population. Faith questions sending in a temp to handle that sort of bridge building, but Reese takes her aback by telling her that she was asked for by name.
Page 13: With Angel and Fred, she tells him that she remembers when Illyria was feeling anger and despair at seeing her armies having turned to dust while she was away. But she also remembers that somehow, her own memories were also a part of Illyria.
Page 14: Fred describes herself as being a ghost, feeding material to Illyria. Angel apologizes for not being able to help her though the entire team tried. But he’s relieved to have her back and Illyria gone.
She tells him he doesn’t understand: Illyria isn’t gone. She’s inside Fred and fighting every moment to break out again and Fred is becoming exhausted with the struggle.
Commentary: This is an interesting thing, in that it really reflects nicely on IDW’s efforts in “After The Fall” when Illyria and Fred kept swapping places. Although it’s hard to know if we’re seeing Fred or a reflection of Fred made up of Illyria’s memories of her here, I do find myself being interested in where they’re going to take things.
Page 15: Faith meanwhile is meeting Inspector Brandt and he introduces her to Rory’s… the place that everyone in Magic Town passes through sooner or later. He offers surprise that Angel hadn’t yet brought her around to the place where information is sought but she tells him she’s not seen Angel yet, using the unconvincing excuse of being so busy getting settled in.
Page 16: Faith jokes with Brandt about her being a civilian and getting in the way but he offers that he doesn’t consider Slayers as just any ol’ civilians. He also says that if Zane Pharmaceuticals can ease the stress of the people in Magic Town after what they’ve suffered, he’s all for it.
Faith then mentions that Reese told her that she was personally requested and points out again that she’s only a short-term employee. But Inspector Brandt wanted to meet Faith not because of her position in Zane’s outfit but because she is THE Faith. He’s a bit star struck.
Commentary: OH. That was a really nice moment. It’s so rare that Faith is the one who is idolized since Buffy tends to take up all of the fame. I really liked Brandt just a bit more by his wanting to meet her because he’s a bit dazzled by her exploits.
At first I was even trying to think if Faith was wanted in London for something, as I was sure that he wanted to meet her in order to place her under arrest to shock us. But no… he’s really being sincere.
Page 17: Brandt continues buttering her up with praise, putting it down to wanting to make a good first impression. He’s also trying to figure out what her being back will mean for the state of Magic Town. But Faith can’t answer that yet, as she’s made no firm plans besides wanting to tie up loose ends from her quick exit previously.
Faith then mentions that she’s been searching hospitals for signs of what became of the Slayer, Nadira but with everyone having dealt with the fallout of Whistler’s bomb, the records have been spotty.
Brandt is taken by surprise that she hasn’t heard about what Nadira is doing these days and offers to fill her in on what has happened since the bomb went off.
Page 18: With Inspector Brandt’s information, Faith goes straight to Nadira’s pad. Once she gets there, she admits that she doesn’t know what to say to her, except to apologize for running off instead of staying by her side as she dealt with her injuries.
Page 19: Nadira isn’t the angry young woman she was, of course. She tells Faith that she has a gift to give her: The gift of not needing her guilt or sense of responsibility for anything that happened to Nadira while she was a Slayer. She takes Faith’s hand in friendship and tells her to set it all aside.
Page 20: Angel returns from the backroom, having gotten Fred settled in for some seriously needed sleep. He and Faith spot one another and they both fall into blabbering past one another in and awkward greeting.
Page 21: Finally, they both just shut up and give each other a huge hug.
Page 22: But Faith, Fred and Angel aren’t Nadira’s only visitors on this very busy evening. Koh has also arrived to seek out Nadira’s assistance.
Faith is about to introduce Angel to him [remember that Faith fought with him against the vampires in Santa Rosita], but Fred comes out of the back room and she already knows who Eldre Koh is also.
We’re left to wonder if Illyria is the one responsible for Koh’s long, long imprisonment… the person he’s been trying to hunt down since he showed up in Buffy.
The Good: I like the way that Faith's reintroduction to Magic Town was handled, especially the cute moment with the Fairweather sisters and the big Angel/Faith hug.
I like the ongoing conflict happening in the background between The Seed and Whistler's Virus that has been subtlety hinted is causing unintended consequences.
I liked the Inspector Brandt/Faith "meeting" as well.
The Bad: Nothing badly done.
Other Thoughts: The way that everyone ended up at Nadira's simultaneously feels a little clunky but I'm happy with everything coming together relatively quickly so all of our pieces are on the board and ready for the plot.
I like the basic developments, but the actual pages didn't seem to have much going on and it left me feeling just slightly disatisfied when I reached the last page.
The Score: This was left with a strong feeling of a set-up issue to get all the players in place in order to delve into the story next issue. It's always a bit off-putting to see the writer's fingerprints so blatantly on a tale, but I like where the last page has everything in the end.
3.0 out of 5 stars
Next Up: A movie review for 1971's "I Eat Your Skin" ... not nearly as horrifically gruesome as it sounds.