Angel & Faith
Season 02, Issue 22
"A Tale of Two Families" part II
Writer: Victor Gischler, Artwork: Will Conrad, Coloring: Michelle Madsen, Lettering: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft's] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Scott Fischer
Blurbbing: With the Big Bad Archaeus in residence - somewhere in London - vampire strikes have increased in Magic Town as he and Drusilla grow their family. Determined to bring Angel into the fold, along with the strange magical entity of Magic Town, Archaeus and Dru have kept Nadira captive for her connection to both of those targets. But that isn't the only angle this pair has been working. Angel, Faith, and Fred have a battle ahead...
Page 01: We open on a car containing Sophronia Fairweather, her sister Lavinia, Faith Lehane, Fred Burkle and Eldre Koh.
Soph is less than sanguine about Angel walking deliberately into a trap, but Faith tells her it's all part of the plan to gain what they need to put a stop to Archaeus and Drusilla. She just hopes that he can continue to resist the elder demon's pull on him until they can get Nadira out of harm's way.
Page 02: Faith and party very quickly lose their surprise when they're met by my vampire boytoy, Big Hunky Brute.
He's there with a welcoming committee.
Page 03: Meanwhile, in Archeaus' new throneroom, Dru is reporting in on Faith's arrival. She uses this as the proof they need that Angelus has joined them fullstop and is making their family stronger already.
Angelus goes on to warn Archaeus about Faith's hit-rescue-run plan for Nadira, and further warns that if Archaeus plans a trap on the interlopers, it needs to be fast and hard before either Koh - the Nitobe Warrior, or The Old One breaks free of Fred's hold.
Commentary: At this point, I'm still going to believe that this Angelus swap is a set up on Archaeus and Dru, though I'm always dubious when the Master Plan is to send a bunch of bad guys off to attack your friends believing they can handle it. I mean, really. Does it matter how good your friends are, when all it takes is one turned back at the wrong moment to end the "Masterful Tactical Plan"?
But right now, I don't think they're going to make Angel lose himself again right after just doing that to him in BTVS against Archaeus. And we know Dru couldn't break through Angel's self-control on her own without some heavy duty black magic on her side.
So technically Angelus should be in quotes throughout, but I'm going to describe things on face value. Just know that if this really is Angelus and not an acting Angel, then I was fooled.
Page 04: Archaeus orders Dru to personally take over the battle with Faith's team and to take everybody to overwhelm and destroy the intruders. He expresses how pleased he is to Angelus to have him as part of their family. The term takes Angelus off guard, but Archeaus tells him that what he learned from the San Francisco defeat, was that family is stronger than any 'team' he could assemble. He wants a family bound to him.
He next orders that Angelus is to work on convincing Nadira to cojole the Magic Entity into joining the family.
Commentary: This part is a bit wonky. Apparently Victor could've used a quick read of the BTVS "Old Demons" arc where Archaeus was already on the My Family kick. Here it sounds like maybe he wasn't thinking in those terms already, but maybe it's a bit wankable that he was only mouthing the Family terms and now he's actually changing his thinking/feelings about his nest members?
I'm also going to be a bit disappointed in the writing if it turns out that Angel-pretending-to-be-Angelus really does slip Nadira out this easily. I'll buy that Dru is quick to drink the kool-aid because of hero-worship of Archaeus and not believing for a moment that he could fail to turn Angel. I'm less able to buy Archaeus falling easily for Angel's ruse specifically because of San Fran and his already having done it once. Yes, that was because of his support [mostly Spike in that arc] but still... if he did it once....
On the other hand though, if Angel has actually temporarily been overcome again, then it speaks poorly for our central character and like I said, they already pulled that in San Fran. With this being his title, I'd expect better.
I'd also feel better about this section if we'd already seen Archaeus try to Vamp Nadira and had the Magical Entity intervene to protect her. This soft sell thing he keeps doing is odd to me, considering the sort of creature he is. Maybe that's just me, though.
It does make more sense here, at least, than with Mary and her father over the statue. But I still wish we'd had a panel or two where Dru brought up simply turning Nadira, and had an explanation as to why Archaeus doesn't want that risked.
I can imagine Archaeus being worried that Nadira's influence over the Magic Town Entity is tied to her being ensouled, or the magic inherent in her Slayer heritage, or her being human... but I'd like Archaeus to have explained it himself.
Page 05: With Faith, and company: Koh quickly beheads a no-name, while Lavinia gets one with a crossbow bolt to the forehead, possibly with a staking assist from Fred.
My Soccer Hooligan goes for Faith, dishing out a wicked face punch. But she's a Slayer, and not only does he take a direct punch to the face, but he also gets a boot to the head for his arrogance.
Page 06: As the battle rages, Soph and Liv double crossbow two more anonymouses, which leaves one of them not in a position to guard the other while reloading. Lavinia complains to Sophronia, but she replies that the former knows how trigger happy the latter gets in these situations.
Meanwhile, Fred helps out Koh and they share a fist bump for teamwork.
Page 07: Over with Faith and My Hunk-O'-Vamp, she head butts him in the face after a line of banter. With a sweeping leg, she knocks him down next.
Then... then... my Hunky-Brutish-Boytoy gets relieved of his head!
Yes, after teasing that he's gotten dusted a few times before, this time it's the charm.
A voice from off screen, that isn't mine, tells Faith that "I'd rather you hadn't done that".
Page 08: It's Drusilla of course. She's flanked by more vampires [weirdly, all of them dressed the same... has Dru been playing life-size dollies?]. She complains to Faith that Angus was the little brother she never had.
Faith tries to talk Dru down that she doesn't have to be controlled by Archaeus and urges her to resist him and be on her way, like Angel. But Dru tells her that Angelus is back in their fold where he couldn't be happier.
Fred gasps. Faith accuses Dru of being a giant liar-pants.
Page 09: Drusilla swears it's true and then shares that as conversation/arguing with Faith has become tiresome, she's going to be killing them all now.
Faith isn't impressed, "Yeah right. You and what arm--..."
Suddenly Dru and the Druettes are joined by a virtual army of vampires of all walks of life.
Faith: "Okay, so I guess I walked into that one."
Page 10: With Archaeus, Angelus informs Archaeus that Nadira doesn't control the Magic of Magic Town, but more asks it do to favors for her [which is basically what Nadira told Archaeus herself]. Archaeus decides the Entity must trust her then, which Angelus agrees makes sense.
Archaeus asks Angelus to convince Nadira to summon the Entity, where Archaeus can then negotiate with it. Angelus asks if he has something the Entity could want, and Archaeus vaguely answers, "My boy, how can you doubt me?"
Commentary: Hmmm. Is this a double-meaning question, or is Archaeus being straightfoward in implying "Of course"?
Page 11: Meanwhile, Faith taunts Drusilla about fighting herself instead of relying on her minions so heavily. Dru takes an offered sword from one of her crew. She confidently tells Faith to come and embrace death.
Fred asks Koh if they should intervene, but Eldre trusts Faith.
Commentary: Of course, Koh has no idea that Dru has already killed a Slayer. His answer may've been different if he'd had that tidbit. Or not... the Nitobe Code may've insisted that Faith issued the challenge, so she had to do this on her own anyway.
Page 12: Faith finds that "poor, weak Drusilla" isn't anything to underestimate as not only does Dru easily deflect Faith's sword, but she also manages first blood by slicing Faith's arm.
Page 13: Faith is next easily disarmed and knocked to the ground by Drusilla, with Dru taunting her about being a discard of Angel's.
Commentary: Hmmm. Is Dru just that good, or is Faith buying time while Angel's plan is put into effect to get to Nadira?
I can see both scenarios.
Page 14: With Nadira, Angel comes to free her. He comments on her being surprised to see him and asks if the magic hadn't already told her that he was coming for her. But Nadira replies that she's been blocking it from finding her because she knows that Archaeus wants her to call it to her.
She admits to be unsure that the Magic Town Entity would choose her over Archaeus. She tells Angel that she won't call it to help her.
Of course, Archaeus was nearby keeping an eye on this exchange, and offers that Nadira's obstinence is disappointing.
Commentary: Which seems really ridiculous -- he didn't even give Angelus a chance to convince Nadira before he springs the nonexistent trap on her. What a twat.
Page 15: Archaeus steps from the shadows, and tells Angelus it was worth a try. Angelus tells Nadira not to struggle and she responds with horror that Angel isn't Angel. He spins Nadira around and tells Archaeus to let him have a crack at breaking Nadira's resistance.
But with his back to Archaeus, Angel winks at Nadira to play along.
Page 16: Angel, who has dropped the pretense of being under Archaeus, double-fist punches him to the face. He grabs Nadira by the arm and yanks her to follow him.
At the same time, he sends a text message from his cell with Archaeus chasing along after them.
Page 17: Angel and Nadira are able to rush into a side tunnel that is too small for the large Archaeus to follow. He bellows at the fleeing twosome that this isn't over.
In the meantime, Nadira questions whether his simple trick was that easy to pull off. He replies no, but that the rest is Faith's problem.
Commentary: I'll be honest, I was a bit disappointed in how ... well, lame... this seems, too.
I know I complained about how Angel seems to be getting dumped on with this arc, once again turning on Buffy and company, and how I said I'd be disappointed if Angelus really was brought forward and Angel couldn't resist Archaeus again.
Forget all that. Now, I'm kinda hoping this is an elaborate triple-cross with Angelus rushing Nadira to safety in order to get her close to the Magic Entity, allowing Archaeus to track just where the Magic Entity will appear so that he can make his offer, with Angel right now truly being Angelus playing one of Angel's own tricks on his own people.
That would really be a brilliant development!
Page 18: Over with Faith lying on the ground and Drusilla gloating at her, Faith receives Angel's text that he's got Nadira.
With Faith's grin of triumph, Koh sends Fred and Rupert's Great-Aunts to start the car and be ready to roar out of there.
Fred's already ahead of him.
Page 19: With Faith no longer having to play the defeated, she very quickly overwhelms Drusilla in three moves, knocking the vampire to the ground, leaving her with a bloodied nose and in shock over how her moment of Slayer killing triumph turned so wrong, so fast.
Commentary: And it was awesome. I was actually worried for Faith there, due to Dru's mind powers and the Kendra thing. But of course, Faith isn't Kendra, and Dru didn't have a chance or the desire to pull the Hypno-Whammies on her.
It was especially satisfying to see Faith boot Dru right in the face.
Page 20: Drusilla, pissed, screams for her minions to kill Faith, specifically. But she and Koh run instead of fighting the hoard.
They're able to make it to the running car and Fred speeds them all to safety... or safety, relatively. No one would argue that this tidies things up with Archaeus now pissed at the "betraying Angel" and Drusilla with an especial desire to kill Faith, now.
Page 21: They all go to Giles' house, where Nadira tells Fred that she's glad not to be at her apartment because of its proximity to the Magic Town Entity. She tells Fred she's still blocking it from finding her and coming to her because, as much as she hates admitting it, she isn't sure that she can trust the Entity to remain on her side.
[And during this, I actually started to wonder about the attack on Nadira's loft... is the No Invite/No Entry rule no longer in effect? I can't remember if this was addressed yet by Buffy, and if so, why it wasn't rewritten as a hard rule. But how did Brutish Ex-Boytoy manage to enter Nadira's loft to kidnap her in the first place??]
[Damn it. Now I have to go back....]
In the meantime, Faith asks Angel if Nadira is okay. He responds that she's just worried. He tells Faith that they got lucky but Faith says she prefers to think of it as deft execution of an excellent plan. But Angel reminds her that whatever, they tricked Archaeus, but they didn't defeat him. He worries over what the Old Demon's Plan B will be...
Commentary: Okay. Darn it. So, I went hunted down two issues that I thought may have address the Vampires entering Nadira's apartment to see if there was already an explanation. One of these was the Angel & Faith issue #19 & 20 but I saw nothing there. So, next I went over to BTVS, Issue #10 where they have the pow-wow between Vicki and Harmony over the new rules for vampires. Nothing.
Although, there is an implication that the "invite rule" may not be enforced anymore -- it's vague. Vicki and Harmony stroll into Buffy's apartment but that could be construed as them having an invite because Buffy is holding an open "commentary on the new rules forum" day so anyone can approach her, Willow and D'Hoffryn with their concerns and it is taking place in her and Willow's apartment.
But you'd think that would be one of the first rules re-written into the book... leading back to how Nadira's loft got invaded again.
Page 22: We skip out to some random part of Magic Town. And, strangely, that statue that Drusilla and Archaeus want so badly? Hasn't been delivered to Archaeus as one could've assumed would happen. But instead, is being set up in the middle of Magic Town, leading Rory to wonder just what this is all about....
The Good: I enjoyed Faith's battle with Angus -- even though Hunky-O'-Bluto ended up with his head separated, which ends my Flirt-o-con with him.
I also enjoyed the confronatation and fake out between Faith and Drusilla.
It doesn't affect scoring, but that cover is gorgeous.
The Bad: Nuthin... but that lingering question now about how Angus and crew invaded Nadira's flat without an invite.
Other Thoughts: The big thing with this issue is Angel's tricking Archaeus into getting Nadira released. And I found that success to be a bit lamely written with Archaeus being far too ready to accept Angelus' conversion at face value. I didn't really like the way Nadira's rescue was carried out, plot-wise.
The Score: I liked it for the action sequences, but the Nadira rescue felt too lame for Archaeus to buy so easily. Can I still hope that Angel is even now under Archaeus' influence and this is an elaborate setup to get to the Magic Town Entity? Because that would way, way more clever than Angel's obvious and lame plan.
3.50 out of 5 stars