Angel & Faith
Season 02, Issue 14
“United” part IV
Writer: Victor Gischler, Art: Will Conrad, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft’s) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Scott Fischer
Blurbbing: 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 with Angel and Faith trying to pull themselves together after their failed attempts to talk Illyria down and restore Fred to control of their body. Eldre Koh confronts Illyria about their being comrades in arms [again referring to their fighting together in the Deeper Well].
Illyria informs him that she doesn’t have comrades, she has worshippers and warns him against defiance. He summons his laser-blades in response.
Page 02: Angel tries to remind Illyria about how she stood with humanity as part of Angel Investigations to save the world. He reminds her she can choose to stand with them now.
Faith teases Angel for still trying to chat his way out of this fix. He replies that being thrown at cars hurts.
Illyria tells them that they’re all small and weak and they deal with that condition by telling themselves fairy tales about how that makes them laudable. When she was feeling herself being diminished, she started to believe in that lie and become a part of it as well.
But she’s not diminished anymore.
Commentary: I loved this dialog from Illyria! I like the way that it cuts down all of Angel’s continued talk about the honorability of human shortcomings [from her viewpoint] and again bringing her back to her roots as the antagonist of Angel’s team at W & H. Amy Acker would’ve torn up this dialog on screen and her voice is easy to hear with this dialog. Good job!
Page 03: Angel’s continued attempt to talk Illyria down runs into her impatience with his blathering.
Koh interrupts to demand answers to his family’s fate and how she could’ve been responsible. At first she’s irritated by his demanding anything before she relents a bit to tell him that it was never animosity against them. She points out that his people simply needed to be disciplined.
Page 04: Eldre launches himself into an attack on Illyria, but she foils it and tells him that though he has the heart of a warrior, against a god his efforts are worthless.
Koh though is now seething with all of the things that his daughters never got to do. He attacks again, telling her that either he’ll have his vengeance or he’ll perish in the attempt.
Page 05: Illyria consents to his perishing.
But before she can snap Koh’s neck for him, Angel vamps out and suggests she sleep on it, before full-strength punching her in the jaw.
Commentary: I’ve had a few issues here and there with Eldre Koh and the entire “seeking vengeance” thing to be a bit too cliché and dull but I really liked the interactions on these last two pages.
I particularly enjoyed how Illyria’s stance almost suggests that she’s allowing Koh to nearly strike her as her admission that he deserves to have his chance at revenge for what she did. But of course, as a god, she’s certainly not going to allow him to actually strike her. It’s almost like killing him now, while he’s in the midst of seeking his justified vengeance, is a kindness that she’s extending to him.
Page 06: As Illyria is spun by Angel’s punch, Faith is behind her to follow up with a side kick to her face. Faith complains to Angel about the strategy she’s not aware of. He tells her about Fred stating that when either of them are sleeping, they’re both dormant.
Of course, that still leaves how to knock out an Old One.
Faith’s follow up attempt to punch is stopped by Illyria grabbing her fist.
Page 07: Illyria grabs Faith by her shirt and throws her through the air, leaving her to crash into a heap against a building.
Illyria is about to engage Angel again, when he leaps out of range of the sounds of something behind Illyria. She spins around wondering what foolishness is next.
Page 08: It turns out to be Reese Zane in a car, which she uses as a battering ram.
She gets out of the wrecked vehicle complaining about the quality of the air bags.
Meantime, Illyria recovers from being knocked to her knees by the collision. As Angel runs forward to punch her again while she’s gaining her feet, she tells him that she used to think he and Wes were guiding her when she felt displaced. But now she’s come to realize that they were just trying to manage her.
She’s clearly annoyed at the thought of “being managed”.
Page 09: Illyria body slams Angel through the pavement of the road, leaving him lying with his body broken. She accuses him of trying to make her more human so that she’d be made weaker. She tells him that he could never defeat her, so he manipulated her when she was too weak to notice what was happening.
Angel wheezes out that he did care about her and Fred and that nothing he ever did to help her was a lie. He calls for help from Fred.
Page 10: Suddenly within Illyria’s head, her personality is confronted by Fred who wants to discuss how both of them can coexist. But Illyria points out that she doesn’t discuss, she commands.
Fred isn’t hearing that crap. She tackles her and insists that Illyria listen to her.
Page 11: In the real world, Koh tackles Illyria off of Angel. He’s punched away, but Illyria is actually striking out at Fred within their mind.
Illyria goes on to tell Fred that The New Seed corrected what it saw as a flaw within her when it remade her. But Fred points out that obviously The Seed did the same thing to her since she exists now too again. She tells Illyria that they both are in the same body and mind and won’t be able to exist without the other’s cooperation.
Commentary: Hmmm. Okay, I guess. I was kind of annoyed that Illyria wasn’t kept offscreen a lot longer after her self sacrifice within the Deeper Well. And I was even more annoyed that Fred is continuing to “be herself” after we were all assured that she was supposed to have been completely destroyed by Illyria’s birth into the world.
But after Illyria was able to channel Fred in Angel S5 and after that was stretched even further into her becoming Fred in “After the Fall”, I guess it’s a logical progression that The Seed could reformat and recreate them again.
I still consider it a bit too soon to be pulling either of them back from comic book limbo but I’m generally okay with the explanations that The New Seed is responsible.
Page 12: In their mind, Illyria refuses to yield to the logic of Fred’s argument and continues to try to pound on her. In the real world though, her fists are striking Eldre’s face into hamburger.
Page 13: Within their mind, Fred insists that she’s real in there and Illyria can’t just use her invulnerability and super strength to force her decisions on anyone.
Fred goes on to prove that she has as much power within their mindscape as the god by getting Illyria on the ground and pinning her. She tells her that today a human is telling a god “no”.
Commentary: I wasn’t really into Fred’s “power moment” here, until the line “Today a human tells a god NO”. That, I’ll admit was kinda awesome. And I like it coming right after Illyria doesn’t just say that she’s “a god” anymore but actually refers to herself as “I. Am. God.”
Page 14: In the real world, Illyria is replaced by Fred Burkle. She helps Koh to his feet, apologizing for the damage they caused him, but he doesn’t hold a grudge.
Angel asks Fred about what happened and Fred says she surprised both herself and Illyria by showing her just how much strength a human woman can possess.
Page 15: Angel and Koh both compliment Fred on finding the strength that at least Angel knew she always had. Eldre tells her she has the heart of a warrior.
Fred has to point out that their problems aren’t over. Although she’s somewhat more confident of her ability to control the pissed god inside of her, it’s only slightly more.
Koh thanks her again for stopping Illyria from killing him and thanks Angel and Faith for their roles in standing by his side as well.
Page 16: Angel tells everyone that Magic Town tends to spin out of control every hour or so, but by standing together they can handle anything it dishes out.
Commentary: Which was a supremely clumsy line under the circumstances. This had absolutely nothing to do with Magic Town and everything to do with Dr. Dumbass not listening to warnings against screwing around with Fred’s brain waves.
It’s also been heavily implied that Illyria and Fred would’ve still had these problems anywhere in the world because this all started with The New Seed, not with Magic Town’s sentience.
It’s hard not to see this… and especially thanks to that action team posing they’re doing… as us being introduced to the new line up for the title: Angel, Fred, Eldre Koh and Faith, and it’s really baldly and obviously done which annoys me.
Page 17: Several feet away, Reese is still recovering from her brush with Illyria via crashed car. She asks after that data they collected in the lab and is assured that it was saved.
After mentioning again that she wishes that Faith would take on a permanent position within the company, she mentions that being in the most magical place on Earth with a god trapped inside of a mortal woman could end up being very profitable for Zane.
Commentary: I like what is being done with Reese. I had thought of her as a one-off for a specific arc, but with her staying aboard the title, I’m liking the sense of ambivalence about her that we’re getting. Right now, I do believe she’s generally a good person who is trying to do what she can to help, but I can also see that her choices might be highly questionable and it’ll be interesting if it’s handled correctly to see her wavering between being a friend and being a foe for Faith, especially, going forward.
Page 18: Some time later, Fred has been returned to the Fairweather sisters for rest.
Angel confuses them by claiming to be ecstatic that Fred is back, but wondering what it all means. When they question his meaning, he says that Illyria is still locked inside of her and he doesn’t see a quick fix in dealing with the Old One.
Page 19: Outside of the brownstone, Faith waits for Angel. After making sure that Fred is settled, the two of them talk about things. Faith assures Angel that despite their not having an official partnership anymore, she’ll have his back.
Angel worries over the Fred/Illyria situation some more. He tells Faith that Fred mentioned to him that she thought maybe Illyria unintentionally let her win this one which throws up a real red flag on what will happen if she chooses not to lose the next one.
Page 20: Meanwhile, Eldre has returned to Nadira. He tells her that he’s thought on her earlier words about vengeance and will try to let it go. He isn’t sure that he’ll be ultimately successful as the thought of his family’s killer walking around unpunished rankles. But he also recognizes that he’s been using his rage as a crutch to avoid feeling the grief he should deal with.
Page 21: After Koh leaves Nadira, she talks to the Magic Sentience. It is clear that the Magic Town force remains afraid of Illyria’s presence.
Page 22: Nadira strolls out to her balcony. She tells Magic Town that it’s powerful, too.
The Good: I really enjoyed the entire battle sequence with Illyria with a special kudo toward the dialog from the god.
The Bad: Nothing is badly done.
Other Thoughts: As explained in commentary, I think it was too soon to pull Illyria out of mothballs and we should’ve left Fred “dead” but I can appreciate the way that they were both brought back through The New Seed from over in BTVS. It’s not a story development I would’ve chosen myself, but it’s acceptable.
I also like what is being done as far as Reese Zane and the line she’s riding between being a possible unintentional bad guy and trying to help. I hope that we’ll continue having an ambiguous pall over this character.
I also still like the developments going on with Magic Town and its sentience and how this is impacting on Nadira through her link with it. It’d be nice if we got more nuance though in her personality… Nadira is a bit too “soulful” and “hippy-dippy” to be of much long term interest. I wish she’d been introduced to be plotting actively against Illyria because of the Magic Town Consciousness’ fear and possibly being an ambiguous threat to Fred. She needs more levels of grey in her interactions with Angel.
The Score: I loved the action scenes against Illyria, but once that was resolved I did feel all of the momentum of the story wane rapidly. Ultimately, we need more possible conflict between our characters through making some more ambiguous choices in the characterization of Reese, Nadira and maybe even Eldre Koh to build up these support characters into ones to really watch.
3.50 out of 5 stars
Next Up: The X-Files’ “Fallen Angel”.