Angel & Faith
Season 02, Issue 19
"A Little More Than Kin" part I
Writer: Victor Gischler, Art: Will Conrad, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft's] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Scott Fischer
Blurb: After a stateside run-in with Archaeus, the Big Bad that's been haunting Angel's and Spike's deams, Angel heads back to Magic Town to follow up on a lead. Thanks to Faith and Fred's sleuthing, Angel knows the word on the street is that Archaeus has arrived in their neighborhood to check up on the recruiting that his dangerous new sidekick, Drusilla, has been doing at a local prep school. Archaeus is determined to bring his line of vampires together, but what does he have planned for Magic Town?
Page 01: We open in Magic Town as a foursome of jerks march down the street, insulting the residents as freaks. They hit an older, transformed woman, causing her to lose her grocery bag. She's assisted by Fred, who glares at the hoodlums' backs.
Page 02: Fred shouts after the four ruffians that they're in the wrong neighborhood to make trouble. But the apparent leader turns around and tells Fred that if she's referring to the big hero, Angel, they'd heard he'd left town.
As she's doing so, she and her friends all turn to fang!face. They decide to have fun hunting down Fred.
Page 03: Fred retreats from the older, transformed woman but ends up in an alley with no escape.
The vampires bum rush her, not very concerned with the fact she's wielding a stake. Leader Girl grabs a handful of Fred's hair and asks who she thinks is going to save her now, without Angel...
... The answer, of course, is Illyria.
Page 04: The vampires immediately decide to back off, seemingly sensing Illyria's Old One status. I'm afraid that she's not playing the forgiving sort, however. Two of the vampires find themselves immediately dusted as they try to run.
A third turns into a bat to take to the air in escape.
Commentary: Immediately, I want to compliment the artwork. The coloring especially is bold and the whites and blues are gorgeously rendered. I also want to pay special attention to Illyria, here. She's killing off the undead not by hitting them, but with energy powers that we've not seen before, I don't think [at least I don't remember her having energy blasts]. This is interesting, as one must wonder if it has something to do with her tapping into the magic field of Magic Town.
It would be interesting if we get more conflict between Nadira, acting as the voice of the Sentient Magic and Angel, acting to protect Fred while Illyria is a threat to all of them.
Page 05: Illyria looks up at the bat winging its way out into the night. An energy stream, lightning-like, instantly disintegrates him.
Our Leader Vampire, meantime, has made it to the alley entrance, but before she can get clear - Illyria's hand shoots out between the buildings and grabs her by the back of her shirt. A large energy burst presumably ends her unlife as well.
Commentary: Again, though, I must mention the lack of misting going on. More just because I'd like to have it more explicit that Illyria's powers are such that going immaterial still wouldn't have saved them, but also, because it just feels exceptionally dumb for these vampires to turn into bats, but not turn into the thing that they can't actually be touched as.
Now, maybe the newbies just panic easily... and I could accept that, I guess. And it doesn't bother me here as much as when Faith was facing off against an entire group of Dru's converts and not one of them misted away from her stake, but y'know... c'mon!
Page 06: Sometime later, Fred - still fully dressed - wakes up with a gasp. She finds herself in her room at Giles' townhouse. Angel is there, mentioning that he was asked to watch over her because she'd come in dazed looking the previous evening.
Fred tells him how glad she is to have him home. Angel tells her that they've still got a problem from his excusion to the U.S.A.
Page 07: Downstairs, Angel, Fred, Faith, Sophronia and Livinia discuss Archaeus' escape from Angel and Team Scooby in San Francisco. Angel believes that Archaeus made his way to London, due to the previous experiences he was having with his nightmares. He also reports on his suspectibility to the Master Vampire's influence and is embarassed to have to admit that if not for Spike, he'd probably be helping Archaeus right now.
On the positive side, he reports that Archaeus' dimensional portal artifact was destroyed by them.
Commentary: Owie. This page was a bit... awkward. It was obvious that Angel was data dumping for anyone that hadn't read the BTVS issue and it comes across as exactly that, including Angel having to use the phrase "...you know I went to California to...".
Yes, Angel. They do know all of that, so why are you telling them things they don't need you to?
I'm also not exactly buying Angel's logic in Archaeus, coming on the heels of a defeat, would immediately relocate to here where there are another group of good guys who know all about him waiting. That seems a bit too comic-logic-convenience to really work. Especially since it's obvs that Dru has been working on his behalf without his actually needing to be here personally overseeing her progress. It would make more sense for Archaeus to continue to give Drusilla instruction telepathically via her visions/dreaming, and staying far away himself until his plans are ready.
Page 08: We now see also that Koh is in a corner of the room. He offers that Archaeus is smart in gathering strength and controlling the terms of their next meeting. Meanwhile, Angel also brings up that he'll have one advantage that he didn't have in San Fran, which Faith correctly guesses is Dru's presence.
Koh, Sophie and Liv are ready to take the fight to him before he can call the shots of their next fight.
Page 09: But Faith has to point out that they don't know where his hiding ground is at the moment. She suggests they need intelligence before they go all in on the hunting and slaying part [Wait... Faith is suggesting they hold off!?]. Angel agrees.
Fred brings up the vampires that she met the night before and now wonders if they weren't in fact a bunch of troublemakers, but were actually scouts gathering intelligence for Archaeus. Eldre tells them that would be the sensible approach and wonders if Archaeus doesn't already have more information about them, than they have about him at this point.
Page 10: Elsewhere, Drusilla is holding court with her surviving minions. These aren't the prep schoolers, but two differing groups. One is a punk/street kids group, while another is a group of violent ruffians. And they're not getting along at all.
But Dru is less than concerned about cohesion in her ranks -- she's just miffed that the scouting party into Magic Town got themselves killed instead of doing their frickin' jobs. The Bruiser Trio Leader offers that she shouldn't have sent pathetic kids out to do a man's job.
Page 11: Mohawk gets in his face over that insult, but Bruiser head butts him. The Bruiser Trio quickly beats the crap out of the Street Punk Squad.
Dru is pleased with her children fighting for her attention, and as a reward to Bruiser for his devotion, she offers a special task to the Trio. She sends them to collect "the key to Magic Town".
Commentary: It's funny, but on reading this line from Drusilla, "Mummy gets very put out when her babies get themselves killed instead of doing their jobs", my first impression was Glorificus complaining about the Scabbie Imps getting hurt, instead of doing their jobs. I thought it was just my weird brain making a random connection -- but then Dru here goes on to talk about retrieving a key... and the word 'key' is even bolded in the sentence.
I'm suddenly thinking that Victor wanted us to relate cray-cray Glory to cray-cray Dru deliberately. Wouldn't it be something if Archaeus made Drusilla a vampire dark goddess somewhere during this arc?
Page 12: Sometime later that evening, Faith and Eldre are out about Magic Town. Koh mentions "so that was a patrol" and Faith mentions that regular patrolling is more Buffy's type of gig. But she goes on to remind him that Angel wants them to be out in public, reassuring the citizens that the good guys have things covered.
They stop off in Rory's bar, but they find the place has recently been attacked with patrons trying to recover from their beatings and the place torn up.
Page 13: Rory complains that vampires came in and busted the place up, and they seemed to be wanting him to call Angel in for help... like they were all but daring him to show up. Rory tried to tell them that he doesn't have Angel's cell on speed dial but they were very clearly not receptive to that tidbit.
Koh suggests this may be a distraction to lure Angel here while something else was happening. He also suggests that he and Faith make a sweep of the neighborhood to see if they can locate the attackers.
As they head out, Rory tells Faith that she and Angel make a good team and the people of Magic Town could really use a good team right now.
Commentary: The dialog is a bit hinky... I'd almost wonder if Rory was trying to set Angel and Faith up to be in the same place for Archaeus, but I think the actual point of this scene was about Faith working [technically anyway] for Zane Pharmaceuticals instead of partnering with Angel full time these days. This feels to me like Victor setting up plans to have Faith quit Zane or at least only moonlight there as a side gig when Angel doesn't need her.
Page 14: Elsewhere, Angel is with Fred while Faith updates him over his cell about the attack on Rory's. He reports in that they're about to check in for information with Nadira, and she and Koh should meet them there.
When he hangs up, he brings up Illyria with Fred and asks if they really needed her, could she summon her. Fred says she's not sure as the strength of the bond between them seems to come and go, even though she knows that she's still there inside of her.
Page 15: At Nadira's, she of course already knows that Angel had returned through her linkage with the Sentient Magic.
She tells Angel that the Magic has been nattering at her non-stop since he returned. She starts to tell them that they're standing at the edge of something, but interrupts herself to ask him to step away from the window.
Page 16: From the skylight, the Bruiser Trio bursts in, along with Mohawk. Bruiser himself takes Angel down quickly with a boot to the face.
Page 17: He's kept down with some vicious kicks to the ribs. While Bruiser's two teammates and Mohawk keep Angel on the floor, Bruiser snatches up the unresisting Nadira.
Fred tries to intervene, but she's backhanded across the face.
Page 18: Fred shouts for Nadira [probably wishing she'd do something other than stoically get abducted -- the twit], but Bruiser makes his getaway with "the goods".
Page 19: Fred then tries to help Angel instead by grabbing up one of Nadira's candle poles. She shoves the lighted candle into one of the Bruiser Gang's faces. The distraction is all Angel needs to vamp out, pull his sword from under his jacket, and cut off a head from second Bruiser Gang member.
Commentary: Yeeeahhhh... where was that long sword tucked away, now? Is it a telescoping sword?
And thank you Nadira... can't tell you how much help it is that you can't even bother to try to not get swept up and taken away by the bad guys. Nice show there - really.
And Fred? I swear if you rush a vampire one more time without a weapon in hand, I'm going to start giving you backhands, too!
OMG, Fred is really irritating me with this constantly bumbling into fights she isn't prepared for!
Page 20: While Fred holds one of the Bruiser crew at bay with her lighted candlestick, Angel quickly dispatches Mohawk while Second Bruiser Crewmember is still ashing away.
Our baseball capped Bruiser Member grabs ahold of the candlestick and wisecracks at Fred. He finds his head lopped off next by Angel from behind.
Page 21: Angel asks if Fred is alright, but her response is all about getting Nadira back. She rushes for the door to downstairs, while Angel tells her he'll take the shortcut. He leaps out of a window to the street below.
Page 22: As he lands, he shouts at Bruiser that he can't just take a friend of his... but comes up short when he notices that Bruiser isn't alone. Not only are the rest of the Street Punk Gang there, but so is Drusilla!
Nadira stands stoically captured while Dru tells Angel that she'd like to talk to him about rejoining their little family....
The Good: Let's see... I do like the implications that Magic Town's residents are still trying hard to pull themselves into a community after the PTSD caused by so many transmutations from Whistler's Magic Virus Bomb.
I also enjoyed the fight scenes - more Illyria's easily wiping out the smartassed-mouthed vampires, but both major fight scenes were good.
I kinda liked the intra-vampire squabbling at Dru's hideout... and... uh... the Big Bruiser guy is kinda hot in a neanderthal-kinda way. *ahem*
I'm lovin' Drusilla's red gown.
The Bad: The Angel-recap of the San Francisco adventure was really a baldly written data dump for nobody's benefit on panel.
Other Thoughts: I really wish the vampires would stop getting caught flatfooted by not misting when it would save them.
I also really am getting annoyed with Fred constantly being caught flatfooted by vampires without a weapon in hand. Has she forgotten everything she'd learned from Angel Investigations AND surviving while being hunted in Pylea? Because it is really seeming like it.
Nadira and I have always had a rocky relationship, and her letting herself be nabbed in this issue really bugged me. Her whole mystic-pacifist-meditative schtick is too hippy-dippy-chick for me, and that is especially true when she can't be bothered to do anything to resist being bundled away by the vampires.
The Score: It had a rocky start, and some of the dialog from Koh was a bit too obvious to be insightful as it was clearly meant. But the battle scenes were done relatively well, and Drusilla always adds interest to a plot:
3.75 out of 5 stars