harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Angel & Faith reviewed: Season 02, Issue 12


Angel & Faith
Season 02, Issue 12

United” part II

Script: Victor Gischler, Art: Will Conrad, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings & {Comicraft’s} Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Scott Fischer

Blurb: The appearance of Fred Burkle wandering the streets of Magic Town has Angel concerned and absolutely determined to keep Fred safe and in control of herself -- though the Old One Illyria is still within her and trying to get out. Another surprise for Angel is Slayer Faith Lehane’s return to Magic Town. Having parted somewhat awkwardly, the two are working together again: to help Fred and to deal with the sudden arrival of Eldre Koh, a demon bent on vengeance and seeking his friend Illyria.

Page 01: We open our scene with Angel, Fred, Faith, Nadira and the human/altered human couple at Nadira’s. Also there is Koh.

Koh recognizes Fred and Illyria and Angel has to explain the difference.

Page 02: Koh wonders at how the human Fred could be standing before them, rather than the Old God, Illyria. Nadira, Angel and Faith are currently working with the theory that when the New Seed was created, it reset Illyria/Fred back to “default” since the old gods are still too powerful to destroy outright.

It’s a shaky explanation without anything really to back it up, except for Nadira’s connection to the flows and ebbs of Magic Town, but there aren’t any better sounding reasons at the moment.

Koh doesn’t quite understand and still wonders where Illyria herself could be.

Commentary: I’m stuck on this explanation but I’m not sure how I’d like it to resolve. On the one hand, not having any concrete explanation for this “reset” would be easiest and would keep us from getting bogged down. It would also avoid any disappointment in their attempted detailed explanation of how this has happened by simply hand waving it as “the magic did it”.

On the other hand, it could be a really interesting development if the sentient magic of Magic Town itself is to blame. How it could bring this about since it is a localized phenomena is a trick, but I think it’d be a fascinating development if Nadira intuited that the magic itself reached out to bring Illyria there… possibly as another way to work on overcoming the New Seed in order to spread itself worldwide instead.

So… hand wave, or start a “background story line” over this? One of the real problems I have with this development is the entire point of Illyria taking over for Fred was that she was utterly consumed. Fred was gone… forever…. It was tragic and horrible and very Joss for her to have ended up with such a cruel fate. I both hated it, but also liked it for the general lesson that if you fight with the gods, you’re not safe even if you’re a main character. But then “After The Fall” came along and started mucking with the concept and now we have this “reset” implying that Fred’s soul remains in contradiction to her supposed Fate. I really don’t like general retconning of this sort. Sometimes horrible things happen to people and if you’re going to do this to a character, you should have the courage to let it stand [for the most part, there are exceptions for dramatic storytelling, but the ‘reset’ is an overused device]. I think Fred’s fate should’ve been left to stand as a done deal.

So, while I think a greater storyline involving the reset has potential, I’m also leery of the final explanation being ill-thought out if we don’t take the hand-wave option and just accept that Fred is back from the dead, where she shouldn’t be.

Page 03: Before Faith and Angel can decide how to handle Koh’s question, Fred spills that Illyria is still inside of her, attempting to return.

He asks to speak with her as she may have the information he needs to find out who imprisoned him and why, but Fred - understandably - refuses as she’s afraid giving any ground to Illyria will result in her replacement again.

Koh is disappointed, but he’s used to that and accepts things as they are currently are. But Nadira asks him to explain his quest, hoping that her attunement to magic will give her some insight that may help him.

Commentary: Overall, I found this page pretty clumsily written. It’s nice that we’re going to be given details about Koh after seeing him on this search for a while now. But on the other hand, did we really need these details? I kind of liked him being a circumspect character riding the line between hero and dipping into villainy in his attempt to find out his answers.

I think I’d preferred to have him tell Nadira’s it’s a personal tale of betrayal and to then leave it at that for the time being. But then again [Wow -- “on the other hand” seems to be my general theme for this review… sorry!], if this is going to lead to Eldre Koh being a regular Angel character, I can live with this development.

Page 04: We flashback to Koh’s life in his home dimension. He was a warrior, as all Nitobe are. But among them there was an elite force, the Yataro.

After 12 years of being a warrior of his people, he was granted membership into this elite class, involving drinking a ritual potion designed to bring out his savage side.

Page 05: After imbibing, he was required to leave his village for 30 days and nights to wander the wilderness as he was driven into a frenzy of rage. Staying around his people would be too dangerous until the effects of the ritualized potion had passed.

Page 06: When Eldre Koh arrived back home, he’d found it ransacked and burned to the ground - his people dead. Despite the horror at what he’d find, he went home only to have his worst fears confirmed as his family lay among the dead.

Page 07: As he grieved, an Overseer of the Law arrived. He was placed under arrest for the murder of his entire town. He was accused of losing himself in the madness of the Yataro ritual and to safeguard the rest of his people, he was to be banished and confined to a prison dimension where he would remain for the rest of time.

[Wow. Pretty harsh, considering he was under the influence of a mind-altering drug specifically designed to bring out such a savage rage in the first place. And don’t you think “confined forever” is a bit over the top? I mean, really - until the end of time??]

Page 08: The Overseer not only finds Koh guilty on the spot of being a mass murderer, but he also judges the entire Guild as a danger and orders it disbanded. All of the Yataro are to be similarly banished.

Koh tries to fight free, but he’s overwhelmed.

Commentary: Yeah. First, just what kind of god-powers does this one dork have? That seems a really sweeping statement for him to get away with. But second, I immediately thought, “bullshit, he’s corrupt and there is something else going on here”.

You know when the bad guy shows up on a tv show, or in a movie and the script is trying to hide it but it can’t because it’s just too obvious and then you’re mildly disappointed when a twist isn’t coming and yes, he was the bad guy and you kind of want to slap the heroes for not seeing right through the idiot immediately?

That’s how I felt reading Koh’s tale. It’s just too obvious that the Overseer is up to something and I wanted him to be a bit more subtle about it -- like having physical proof or a “surviving witness” to back up his blanket claims and put some doubt into us and Koh that maybe he did return in a rage-fog and carried out this despicable slaughter.

Page 09: The Nitobe goes on to tell the others that he would’ve wished to die honorably than be imprisoned shamefully. He nursed his desire for revenge against the Overseer and whoever set him up. One day, his cell was disrupted and he was finally able to make an escape.

He admits that over the past several centuries of his imprisonment, he has wondered at the accuracy of his own memories.

Page 10: Nadira tells Koh of her own experience with wanting vengeance and she can’t recommend it. But for Koh, revenge is an integral part of his honor code. He states that he was told that Illyria would have information about what exactly happened in his home dimension and that is why he’s been trying to find her.

Angel suggests that he remain around Magic Town and give the rest of them a chance to find a way to communicate with Illyria that won’t put Fred at risk.

Commentary: Did anyone else wonder at why Illyria would know anything about anything? And did that lead anyone else to wonder about her involvement? I wasn’t ready to call her the bad guy in Koh’s tale, but I did wonder just what she was doing communicating with anyone in his home realm that would have her know anything about it.

Page 11: Angel tells Fred that she remains their priority and if they can help Koh, fine but protecting her remains the goal. Faith gets a call on her cell and has to book, taking Angel by surprise. He strongly intimates that he thought Faith was back to join the team again.

But Faith tells him that she didn’t return to London to play the sidekick and has her own things going on.

Page 12: Angel offers that maybe they could meet up and just catch up with each other. Faith tells him she’s already met Brandt and been to Rory’s and they can catch a beer sometime.

After she leaves, Fred tells Angel that she knows more than she shared with Koh in the room about what happened to him. She informs him that she knows who set him up… and unshockingly, it was her.

Page 13: Meanwhile Faith has been called back to the Zane Clinic to handle another transformed person gone wild. We join her after the guy is under control.

Reese offers that she hopes that Faith is at least thinking seriously about joining Zane Pharmaceuticals full time.

Faith sees a lot of new equipment has been delivered since she was last there and Reese explains that they’ve found themselves needing more experimental lab equipment to develop the treatments that they’ll need. The mention of experiments bothers Faith, but Reese explains that they’re not going to be dissecting people or anything. She states that it’s just necessary for research and practical application to go hand in hand if they want to help people struggling with what was done to them.

Page 14: Over something to eat, Angel asks Fred what she meant. She clarifies [unnecessarily] that it was Illyria who she meant, for while Koh was telling his story, she received some very clear memories from Illyria in regards to him.

She seems to be struggling, being as exhausted as she is and Angel tries to table the conversation until she’s gotten in some sleep. But Nadira won’t let it rest. She insists over him that Fred tell them what she’s gleaned.

Page 15: Illyria, being a god, invaded and expected worship from the Nitobe. But their code of honor wouldn’t allow them to bend their knee to any. So, Illyria “instructed them” by happening to choose the village of Koh’s.

By the time she was finished, not a man, woman or child remained living.

Page 16: Fred goes on to tell Angel and Nadira that Illyria wasn’t a fool. Although she has the arrogance of a god, she didn’t want the elite Yataro to regroup and begin a counter-campaign. So she made a deal with the Overseer to install him in a powerful position, if he’d find a scapegoat for the slaughter she’d committed and disband the powerful Yataro sect.

Something he did. Foolishly and short-sightedly. During the years of Koh’s imprisonment, Illyria went from the Nitobe’s new god to just plain enslaving the entire race.

Fred’s recitation is interrupted by her grabbing her head and screaming. Nadira, across the room, is also impacted and grabs her own head in torment.

Commentary: I am really glad that they didn’t stretch out what really happened over several issues. Although I find Fred having access to the entire truth for this convenient data dump to be… well… convenient, at least we’re not going to pretend that Illyria didn’t have a direct involvement in everything that happened. I also like that we’re being reminded that Illyria isn’t just one of Angel’s teammates that helped against W & H. She’s an Old God and she did the things that Old Gods do to puny mortals, unapologetically.

Page 17: Fred’s problem is Illyria making a surge forward to take over. She only barely able to push Illyria down and remain in control.

She tells Angel that she needs to sleep, as that puts Illyria into a sleep-like state as well [and she knows this how?] but she can’t stay at Nadira’s because Koh knows she’s there [implying she doesn’t trust him not to interfere and release Illyria].

Page 18: Meanwhile, Eldre Koh has gone to Rory’s to drink off his frustration and disappointment in being so close to answers but not being able to get them.

He mutters a lot and orders Rory to bring him drink until he can’t feel anything.

Page 19: His plans for a drunken stupor are interrupted by others in the bar who wants to take a seat next to him and which he is claiming for himself. It leads to a bar brawl beginning to brew.

Page 20: Koh turns into a mean drinker and warns the others that he’s claiming every seat in the establishment. This does nothing to head off the brawl brewing, to Rory’s lament.

Page 21: Eldre Koh quickly wipes the floor with the transmutated humans. He goes into a rant about nobody taking away his being in charge of his own destiny, which apparently includes which bar seats he’s going to claim ownership over.

Page 22: Angel has arrived however. He answers Koh’s rant with a fist, knocking the Nitobe on his rear end.

He tells him that he understands Koh has had a rough day but asks if they could just talk it out instead….

The Good: I did like Faith's sudden discomfort with Reese's plans for the clinic as a possible sub-plot going forward.

I did find it interesting when Illyria's partial and temporary return was felt by Nadira across the room from Fred.

The Bad: Nothing was badly done.

Other Thoughts: I really found the entire way that Koh was brought up to speed on the Fred/Illyria schism to be clumsily approached "script wise". It was also really a clumsy move for Fred, knowing that Koh is looking for Illyria, to blurt out that she's housing the god and all his answers are right there inside her. I just don't see that, when keeping her mouth shut would be the wise move. Fred was a smart lady, surely she could see how badly giving a demon what he wants but then keeping it away from him could turn out.

I'm also not terribly happy with Fred making another miraculous return when her soul shouldn't even exist anymore. Nobody said anything about The Seed creating time travel paradoxes to allow such a thing.

Koh's story feels just too much like a cliche. A cliche from the mid-80's and early 90's "cop goes after his family's killers" plot of all too many action b-movies. The involvement of Illyria is also a bit too convenient.

I also found myself mildly disappointed that Faith, Angel and Nadira didn't get much more time together to interact.

The Score: This one is a difficult one to score because it's very clearly a "set things in motion" issue with our characters being moved into place. I did like that we got answers to Koh's backstory, even though I was intrigued enough with him to wait but the backstory itself was too cliche to really enjoy. Most of the issue felt a little rushed and it made the 'revelations' feel clumsily presented.

3.25 out of 5 stars

Next up: Intrigue and secret cabals with "Black Dragons" (1942)

Tags: angel s8 review

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened