Angel & Faith
Season 02, Issue 13
“United” part III
Writer: Victor Gischler, Artwork: Cliff Richards, Coloring: Michelle Madsen, Lettering: 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 dael with the sudden arrival of Eldre Koh, a demon bent on vengeance and seeing his friend Illyria.
Page 01: When last we left Angel, he’d just punched Eldre Koh onto the floor of Rory’s bar because Koh is having a bad day and taking it out on meaningless brawls.
Angel asks now if Koh is able to control himself or if they should continue. Eldre states he is in control, and more - he’s ashamed of his behavior. Angel helps him to his feet.
Page 02: Koh berates himself for sinking into self-pity and letting his valued discipline slip but Angel offers that at least he did stop himself, after a punch to the face, but still….
Koh goes on to complain that it’s very frustrating to have his answers so close after all of this time, only for those answers to remains locked away from his reach. Angel suggests maybe just letting it go and using his valuable fighting skills for something else.
Commentary: The problem being that this is really just a rehash of the conversation that Nadira already had with him. And Angel was standing right there. We could’ve come in after Angel has repeated the advice, have Eldre confirm that he and Nadira don’t understand how integral vengeance is to his honor code and moved on from there. We don’t need Angel repeating Nadira’s words and it’s wasting a page of dialog.
Page 03: Koh repeats that his honor demands vengeance and without honor, he’s nothing.
Angel tries to get him to think about what he’ll do even if he does find out what happened, even if he could get revenge for it… what will happen afterward if his whole focus has been on that one task.
It’s something for Koh to think about, but right now he’s not at peace enough without his answers to really care about some indeterminate future.
Page 04: Over at the Fairweather’s place, Giles’ great aunts are complaining about Faith’s usual lack of “looking well groomed”, but now she’s managed to drag another into it as well.
We see Faith standing with a cup of coffee, dressed in boxers, a t-shirt and a bathrobe. Next to her stands Fred with another cup and dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt.
Naturally the sister-witches are impeccably dressed and groomed for the day.
Faith sighs that she definitely needs to get her own place. Fred asks that she gets taken with the Slayer.
Page 05: Faith complains to Fred over their coffee that she’s still getting over her jet lag. Fred offers that she’s still getting over dragging around an Old One trying to take over her body after only just returning from the dead.
She recognizes that was a bit snarky and apologizes, explaining that she’s had a hard night of restless dreams: her own, but also Illyria’s.
Faith offers in situations like this, she’d usually recommend a visit to Giles but with that whole thing being an ongoing thing, she suggests instead a visit to Zane Pharma for assistance.
Page 06: Later at Zane’s, Fred has been placed in an isolation room in order to have some readings and scans taken. Angel is very leery of all of this, but Faith suggests that maybe the answer to an old magic problem, isn’t more magic for once.
Noah, the doctor on site, promises that Fred’s safety is his top priority as for any patient. He’ll be quick to hit the panic button and shut down the equipment if things start to get dicey for her.
Page 07: Reese tries to calm Angel’s nerves by comparing their scanning equipment to being no more invasive and dangerous than your standard C.A.T. scan.
Noah Ellis is too excited to censor his words and goes on to say that it’s a real pleasure to study a specimen with such a unique experience. This only puts Angel on edge again against this process, but Faith tells him to chill out, it’s all just egghead talk.
From within the chamber, Fred tells Angel that she’s alright with these tests. As a former science nerd herself, she understands the need to collect data.
Commentary: This, again, felt a bit clumsily written and actually felt designed to me to stretch things out a few pages. Like maybe the story as put together was a few pages short, so this issue is being padded to fill things out.
But I did like Fred resorting to her “head of W&H R&D” history to explain to Angel why she wants this information nearly as much as Dr. Ellis does. And I like the idea of fighting ancient magic with modern science as a concept. It would be neat if they give Fred a way to battle Illyria from within by using each other’s strengths against the other. Fred with her science and logic vs. Illyria with her magic and emotionalism.
Page 08: Elsewhere around Magic Town, Parker is trying to convince Tricia to go outside of Magic Town and meet his mother. They’re interrupted by Koh.
Page 09: Tricia escorts Koh to Nadira, as he seeks her council.
Koh finds Nadira meditating and offers that the Nitobe would do something similar after a battle to steady the nerves and cool the blood. He berates himself again for not doing so the night before, instead of taking to alcohol and acting like an ass.
Nadira explains that she’s not so much meditating as opening herself up to the whims and whispers of the magic around them. Sometimes she can gain sudden knowledge about things that are happening, or she can get nothing at all but some peace.
Koh offers that peace is what he’s looking for now. He asks Nadira to tell him about her reference to her own path of vengeance and what changed for her.
Page 10: Something speaks to Nadira from the magical ether but we don’t learn exactly what. She goes on to tell Koh that she understands that he believes his sense of honor is all he has left, and that includes this thirst for vengeance. He confirms that there is no other thing but Nadira counters that there is EVERY other thing. She sighs and tries to explain that revenge can be more self destructive than it can be damaging to the target of the revenge.
Page 11: We flashback to Nadira in her hospital bed in critical condition following her mutilation by Nash’s energy blast. She tells Koh that she was consumed with her desire for revenge, but after she came into contact with a greater consciousness through Magic Town, she realized that revenge only made her world and herself smaller. She tells him that she thought she was going to die and with that, she let go of her anger and hatred. In her case, she was reborn instead, but the same applies to him now.
He could have a much bigger life and a more expansive future, but first he needs to let go of the tight hold he has on his desire for revenge.
Commentary: Nadira’s commentary is actually much better voiced than my summary. I really liked the way that revenge is described by her to Koh in this scene.
Page 12: At the Zane Clinic, Fred is undergoing a multi-spectrum scan and Noah can confirm by brain readings that there are two sets of brain waves detected. The second set of waves is closely shadowing the primary, suggesting that there really are two individuals within Fred’s brain.
Page 13: Unfortunately, this is where Dr. Noah Ellis’ love of science and desire to treat rather than simply study unravels things. Dr. Ellis suggests bombarding the shadow brain wave with a counter signal, like white noise, to suppress it.
EVERYone in the room tells him not to be so hasty, but he’s insistent that it’ll help strengthen Fred by weakening her passenger. Angel warns that he’s stressing Fred/Illyria and that’s the wrong move.
A warning that isn’t taken to heart immediately by Dr. Ellis and before anyone can forcibly stop his experiment/treatment, Fred cries out in alarm while purple light flashes around her eyes.
Page 14: With Nadira, Koh is describing how he’s been clinging to the need for vengeance with desperation, in a deception on himself. He’s come to realize through speaking with Nadira that he wasn’t following a righteous wrath, but was using his single-minded focus on his quest as a way to not let the pain and grief over his family’s loss to flood in.
He says that he’s been afraid of seeing his wife and daughters’ eyes in the dark and calls himself a coward for not facing his pain head on. Nadira tries to tell him that he can’t ignore grief but only give it its time to work itself out, but she’s interrupted by a disruption in the force.
Commentary: And frankly, I was thankful for the interruption. Throughout Nadira’s hippy talk and Koh’s emotional psychobabble, I just kept instructing Eldre to go out and Kill, Kill. I’d much rather see him haul off and belt Illyria around than turn into a milquetoast good guy [I’m looking at you, Buffy S7 Spike].
Page 15: Between Fred in the experimental scanning chamber and Nadira in her loft, both scream in agony at the same moment.
The lab window blows out into the observation room. Nadira lies cradle in Koh’s arms.
She tells Koh that the magic is afraid of Illyria.
Commentary: I did like this part of the sequence with Nadira again feeling the return of Illyria through the Magic Town Sentience. And of course, the fact that the Magic Town Whistler Bomb magic has its own goals going on is fascinating. I hope that something is done with this apparent sentience in the upcoming conflict against Illyria. I want to see this thing becoming more of pronounced, if still incorporeal, presence exerting a will over Magic Town and giving Angel and Faith more pause over what exactly Whistler has unleashed.
Page 16: In the scanning chamber, Illyria the Merciless announces her return. She blows her way out of the outside wall of the Zane Clinic to stroll London.
Page 17: As Reese is scrambling a security team, Angel snarks at Faith about whether she’s still loving science. She tells him, “Oh, shut up”.
Outside, Illyria senses a powerful presence. She also wallows in being free after being held back by that bleating, little….
She doesn’t get to complete her monologue to herself as someone apologizes for interrupting her talking to herself, to her scowl.
Page 18: The interrupter is Angel. He tells Illyria that he wants to talk to Fred and he isn’t buying her claims that “the little girl is gone, only the God remains”.
Angel tries to reach through to Fred to fight to return. He tells her that she’s strong and she can do this.
On Illyria’s face, she momentarily looks sympathetic and almost sounds Fred-like with, “Angel, I… I just want you to know…”
Before she takes on a more smirking expression, “You’re wrong.”
Commentary: I actually loved this return of Illyria, sounding very much back to her roots without the connections to Team Angel that she had developed. While I enjoyed Illyria as a character in S5 of Angel, I also enjoy when she’s the big problem that has to be dealt with as an implacable force. It’s always exciting to see her effortlessly batting away the heroes attacks, and personality wise, I always preferred her to Fred [oh, sorry Fred-fans].
Page 19: Illyria reports that her body is now stronger than it was. She no longer has a need to tolerate the vampire. A back hand emphasizes the point, sending Angel flying and crashing into a parked car.
Faith is quick to jump into fight, delivering a hard roundhouse kick to Illyria’s face and following up with a wild face punch. But Illyria reacts with placidness to this assault.
Page 20: She calls Faith an insect and a back hand also sends the Slayer flying off down the block.
By this time, Reese has returned with a security team… worryingly outfitted in tactical gear with very not-humane looking, for being a clinic, submachine guns. They open fire on former-Fred, which only annoys her.
A thrown car sends them scattering.
Commentary: The moment that Faith gets batted away, I thought, “She really needs to talk to Buffy about her fight with Glorificus” and couldn’t keep from giving a small, pleasurable laugh. I don’t know why I find it so amusing, but I really want to see Faith on the phone to Buffy with her sympathizing what a nightmare gods with pissy attitudes can be to deal with.
Suddenly I want a Glory vs. Illyria throw down with Illyria trying to comprehend the utter vacuousness of Glorificus while she makes cutting comments on Illyria’s tacky leather gear.
Page 21: Faith has recovered enough to get back into the fight, but her mouth is pouring blood down her chin. She tells Illyria that Slayers don’t really do the kneel and obey thing.
She jumps at the god, but is snatched out of the air by the throat. Illyria returns that the gods don’t tolerate disobedience, even from the Slayers.
Page 22: Illyria’s killing of Faith for her disobedience is interrupted by Koh, who punches Illyria in the back of the head.
He refers to their battling together within the Deeper Well and wonders at why she’s chosen this path of violence against the mortals, now. Illyria isn’t all that interested in explaining her motives. What she is willing to discuss is the arrogance that led Eldre to believe he could first lay hands on her [remember technically, his people would still be her subjects and therefore she would be his god… technically], and then question her.
She tells him that it’s going to be so appropriate for him to die at her hands, just as his family did….
The Good: I really liked both how Fred/Illyria and Nadira are tied together through the sentient Whistler Bomb magic and finding out that the sentience is actually afraid of Illyria.
I also really liked the page where she actually returns in place of Fred and I loved her short mindgame on Angel about the likelihood of Fred's miraculous suppression of her a second time.
I also liked Koh referencing his and her appearance in BTVS, S09 -- because you should all know by now how much I love continuity.
The Bad: Nothing, really.
Other Thoughts: My biggest issue with this installment is the repetitive nature of our conversations with Eldre Koh about his vengeance. It comes across as filler when Angel is basically repeating Nadira's words from last issue. And nobody seems interested in addressing Koh's very real cultural component to his quest.
Because of the repetitive nature of Eldre's revenge quest being addressed by everyone, pacing is a bit slow for half of the issue as we wait for something other than talk, talk, talk [that isn't expanding any characters] to happen.
I do find the whole Eldre/Illyria connection to be a little too convenient to incorporate his character into Angel & Faith. It's just a bit "too" to buy.
The Score: We start out slow and kind of dull, but things pick up quickly in the last few pages.
3.25 out of 5 stars
Next Up: The Walking Dead's Season 2 "Chupacabra"