Angel & Faith
Season 02, Issue 16
"Those Who Can't Teach, Teach Gym" part I
Script: Victor Gischler, Art: Cliff Richards, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft's) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Scott Fischer
Blurb: Called to the States to tackle a demon problem alongside Buffy, Angel asked Fred and Faith to join forces to investigate the real-world repercussions of his troubling nightmares - most recently, one that concerned the death of some students...
My Blurb: I have to admit that at first I didn't get the connection between Angel's nightmares and what Faith and Fred were supposed to be investigating since it was already concluded to be caused by Archaeus. But then, DUH, I remembered that Angel's nightmares were being reflected in actual killings, just like Spike's nightmare was about a couple that was slaughtered in San Fran. Obvs the killer(s) that are in the Archaeus line that Angel was connected to are what our women will need to stop.
Page 01: We open with Faith having moved out of the Giles Brownstone and into her own apartment. She hangs up a photograph of her and Rupert Giles.
Page 02: Faith looks out of her window and across the street there is both a Used Furniture store, where she shops for a bed, and a Cafe.
Page 03: After her shopping trip, she goes into the Cafe for a coffee. She just about to drink when she notices something... and it isn't about the demon who is her waiter.
Page 04: It's Inspector Brandt who exchanges glances with her, before inviting himself to sit down at her table.
Brandt tells her he just happened to be in this neck of the woods, but she doesn't buy it. She guesses that he was looking for Angel and couldn't find him. He grins back that he senses she may know where he's located. She pretends to be considering if she really wants to waste her week off from Zane talking shop, and he reminds her that having a Detective Inspector owe her a favor could come in handy.
She invites him to be the first one to see her new apartment.
Page 05: But only because she intended to make him help her move her second hand bed into the new place.
Not exactly what he meant by "I'll owe you a favor". He reminds her about his looking for Angel and she tells him about the sudden trip to America. She offers he'll just have to clean up the latest supernatural fracus on his own, but he coyly mentions that having a Slayer on hand would be just as helpful as an Angel at the moment.
Commentary: I don't know, y'all... am I seeing some McFlirty Shenanigans going on between Brandt and Faith?
Anyway, I really just want to say how this doesn't seem like it should've taken 5 pages to go through and I'm fearing a very slow and boring start to this arc. Also? Why is Faith moving out of Giles' place when it should be Angel moving? I mean, presumably Rupert doesn't mind her staying since he isn't using the place and I'm sure he'd rather have somebody there to watch over his Great Aunts and make sure they're not tearing up the place with their irresponsibility. It's weird that Angel wouldn't be the one apartment hunting.
Page 06: Meanwhile at the local high school, a girl named Mary tries to get a guy she obviously likes to study buddy with her for an upcoming geometry test. He doesn't get the flirting and before she can be a bit more obvious, she's sidechecked by a girl named Meredith who tells her to back off.
Meredith goes and throws her arm around the Beau in Question and another voice from off-panel asks why Mary doesn't stick up for herself when Meredith is acting like a bitch.
Page 07: The newcomer is Annabelle and Mary assures her there was just a misunderstanding. Annabelle has her own click in a Black Brunette and an Asian Girl who don't get names. But anyway, the Girl Trio tell Mary that they can help her stop being so damned weak, but Mary clearly doesn't want anything to do with this Annabelle.
Girl Trio watch her walk away with Annabelle assuring her friends that Mary will come around when she gets desperate enough.
Commentary: We have no idea what is going on with these girls, but my first impression was that they were going to be either Witches or Vampires and were pulling a "The Craft" type of thingie. Why they'd care one whit over Mary is the real question. We also don't know if this is the school that just suffered the slaughtering of some students that were in Angel's nightmares, but I think it probably is and that the perpetrator of that slaughter may be either these girls, Meredith or that "polite young man" who tried to kill the Fairweather sisters.
Page 08: Sometime later, Faith and Fred meet up to compare notes in regards to Angel's nightmares and a rash of attacks around town. Faith tells Fred about Brandt wanting her to give a Slayer's opinion on something that now sounds like it may be connected to Angel's problem being worked on in the U.S.
Fred questions if Brandt is the handsome one, and Faith assures her that had nothing to do with her taking some time to give him her expert opinion.
Faith leads Fred to a teen hangout, where both of them are way out of place. But Faith tells her they'll just be there long enough to get a feel for the place.
Page 09: At a table, Faith informs Fred that the place is where the local prep school kids hang out and a body was found not too long ago. Fred recognizes a pattern in the nightmare Angel had about the slayings of some prep schoolers.
They're interrupted discussing things by two of those prep schoolers... one of whom is blatant about hitting on Fred for sex. She's shocked and appalled at the rudeness.
After they've been chased off, she excuses herself from Faith, telling her that when she gets back Faith will no longer be laughing....
Page 10: In the bathroom, Fred is touching up her lipstick, when the Propositioner waltzes in and tells her she didn't have to doll up just for him.
Fred is annoyed now, and tells him acting cocky isn't attractive.
He offers to show her his other charms and vamps out on her.
Page 11: Fred resists, but he's got her dead to rights. It's a good thing then that Faith followed along behind, before Fred really felt threatened. Vamp-Boy and everybody else would've had a rough time if Illyria sprung out of hiding!
Faith goes to stake his overconfident self, but she takes a hard backhand to the face.
Page 12: Faith and he wrestle around and Faith tells him she should've smelled the vampire on him, but his cheap cologne was covering it up. He returns that she should choose her next wisecrack carefully, since it'll be her last. He karate kicks her away, where she smashes a toilet to bits.
Fred grabs up a decorative water carafe from the counter and smashes in the back of his head.
Page 13: But being a vampire, it's little more than an annoyance. She takes a slap to the face. But the distraction is enough for Faith to leap back into things. She smashes his face on the sink and spins him around for a much deserved staking.
Commentary: I like Faith's dialog here, but while I was reading through this I couldn't stop myself from thinking, "Why is Fred here? Why was she brought back from oblivion, exactly?" By which I really mean "What are they going to do with this character that they needed her back?"
I don't see why Illyria/Fred needed to be brought from comic book Limbo after Illyria's self-sacrifice and I'm not seeing Fred contribute anything, really... including - apparently - remembering that she knows how to fight at least a little. A kick to the nuts has proven itself to be effective against male vampires.
I did wonder though if Archaeus turned this kid himself. That backhand to Faith literally had her flying across the room, so he may have been even stronger than other vampires. And this would be in keeping with Archaeus using the prep school students to try to gain control over Angel by having feeding his dreams with their killings.
It'd make the side-plot of Archaeus' arc over in BTVS a bit more interesting if there is a Lieutenant vampire to play Big Bad on this side of the Atlantic....
Page 14: Fred and Faith are walked in on by two school girls and have to lamely tell them that the restroom is out of order. Once they get out of "Bronze Age", Faith gives Brandt a call to let him know they've got a vampire problem connected to the school. Fred complains that he owes her a new shirt.
Page 15: At that school, Mary is leaving for the day when she's intercepted by our Girl Trio again. They make fun of her for her love of school, and our Asian Girl gets a name: Blythe.
Page 16: Mary gets frightened and runs for the safety of the library *cough cough* but the girls follow her in, still taunting. Anabelle calls out to Mary that she doesn't have to be weak anymore and she doesn't have to be afraid.
She appears to be cornered.
Page 17: Meanwhile, Faith, Fred and Brandt meet up to discuss the vampire that Faith dusted. Faith was under the impression that she had just solved his problem, but he explains that he'd just been bagging another body and the timing isn't good to make the Swagger Boy the biter.
He explains that his latest victim, the guy Faith dusted, and the guy that Angel took care all have a connection through St. Cuthbert's.
Faith asks what his next move is, but he tells her that what he really needs right now is an inside agent at the school... possibly someone with slaying experience.
She shoots him an amused look.
Page 18: Which is why the following day, Faith is substituting for the suddenly absent Coach Merriweather.
Page 19: Her very first class doesn't start off so well since it includes both Mary and Meredith.
And Meredith is still stinging over Mary talking to her dating interest. She throws a volleyball right into Mary's head with little warning.
Faith decides instead of volleyball, the class will all be running laps. She orders Mary and Meredith to see her in her office after class.
Page 20: After the class, and apparently the last class of the day as well, Faith meets with Mary and Meredith and asks them to just cool it for the week that she's there. Both give half-hearted affirmatives.
She dismisses Meredith but then offers to listen to Mary to find out what is going on and see if she can help her out.
Page 21: Instead, Mary excuses herself to get home and rushes out, leaving Faith unsure what she can do for her.
As Faith is leaving for the day, she happens by the Girls Locker Room just in time to hear a scream from behind the door.
Page 22: Faith busts in, but she doesn't expect what she finds... Mary is kneeling over Meredith with a look of terror. Meredith is looking dead, with blood splashed on her.
As Faith is coming to grips with this, Mary insists that she didn't do it, she just found her like this, she really swears.
The Good: I like the playful relationship I see developing between Detective Inspector Brandt and Faith. And y'know what, I'd like to see Faith have some type of dating relationship. The girl has been alone way too long. And I feel more positively for this relationship [if it develops, that is] then I did for Robert & Buffy.
I loved the little moment after the Obnoxious Vampire Guy got sleazy with Fred when she leaves to go to the restroom and tells Faith that when she returns, she'll be done laughing about it. That was a cute moment.
I also did like the battle scene in the cramped space of the bathroom [with a tiny caveat].
The Bad: I think I need to put pacing here... but just barely. YMMV: I could also accept its going into 'Other Thoughts' instead -- but it felt like things were either too slow and talky, taking up more pages than it needed to, or consequently, things were rushed or glided over where more dialog should've been expended. It feels, hmmm, uneven or poorly organized in what the story focus was on.
Other Thoughts: Uh, about that bathroom battle: Why did Fred just stand there like the Damsel in Distress?? Did her time dead make her forget that she was battling demons as part of Angel Investigations? And with her death so imminent, it struck me as really odd that Illyria wouldn't have surged forward to show this little punk ass how weak a blood rat is compared to herself. The whole Fred involvement, in fact, was odd and kinda pointless.
When we see Faith in the gym shorts introducing herself, I immediately thought of Dean Winchester in his red gym shorts during a case. Dean was way more fun [mostly because Jensen Ackles has a healthy sense of humor about himself and his characters and doesn't mind being made fun of] and I wish that we'd gotten a bit more humor out of Faith playing this role before the dead body shows up.
The Score: This seemed like a slow-go and we spend too much time with dull dialog about things we could've glided over, while also spending too little time digging into things that are kinda important like Faith and Fred's conversations regarding Angel and his experiences that caused him to rush to California in the first place. In fact, I can't believe that neither one of them brought up whether the other thinks it was a mistake for Angel to meet with Buffy after the fuck-ton of crap that has happened everytime they get too near each other. Instead we're following Mary for page after page and her weird stalkers who don't actually tell us anything relevant.
3.0 out of 5 stars (but only barely)