Angel & Faith
Season 02, Issue 23
"A Tale of Two Families", part III
Writer: Victor Gischler, Art: Will Conrad, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft's] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Scott Fischer
Blurb: Somewhere in London, Big Bad Archaeus is in residence with Drusilla and a growing number of vampire minions. Having failed to bring both Angel and the strange magical entity of Magic Town into the fold, Archaeus is moving to plan B and trying to lure the magic with the gift of a physical form... But Angel, Faith and their allies aren't giving up the fight....
Page 01: We open in Magic Town, where its denizens are surprised to see a silvery-blue light rushing through the city streets from all directions.
Page 02: This light rushes from all over town to converge on a single point in the center of Magic Town... and upon a certain statue which was of such interest to Archaeus.
The light invades the huge statue, and its eyes begin to glow.
Page 03: Across town, at Rupert's house where his Great Aunts and Angel are living, Nadira is meditating. Fred is watching over her and notices a change in her demeanor. When she asks, Nadira tells her that there has been a change.
Fred asks if she means something NEW has happened, as so much has of already of late. Nadira clarifies that she means something has happened with the Magic Town Sentience.
Page 04: Nadira admits to Fred that for a moment she felt a signficant presence from the Entity, but now she's not getting anything - which is usual when she's not in Magic Town. Fred offers to get her back there to find out what is happening, but Nadira refuses. She tells Fred that she's afraid.
Commentary: So, I thought the whole statue thing was going to be a metal Warrior deal animated to go up against Angel and Faith. But now I'm guessing that the Magical Entity is the one who has possessed it, but for what reason is the question. I'm also unclear on why Archaeus would set this up... could the Statue also put the possessing spirit/magical being under his direct control?
Or is this part of his "negotiating" that he's been attempting to cojole the entity into being on his side?
This part is a bit unclear to me. It also continues to fail to explain why Drusilla was walking on such gentle egg shells around Mary for so long, instead of just turning her and then her father to gain access to the thing in the first place.
Page 05: Nadira admits to Fred that the Magical Entity isn't completely listening to her any longer. She describes it as entering adolescence, angry at the world around it and not even knowing why.
Fred, as has often been the case with others, thinks that Nadira was controlling the Entity. Nadira, a bit snappish, insists she never had control. But she thought that her and the Entity were sort of like odd siblings in a way. But now she's come to realize that it's more like a tiger cub she found and was raising, but has been reminded it's still a wild animal and may turn on her at any time.
Koh has been present for this last bit of information, and offers to accompany Nadira into Magic Town to face what the Entity is up to together.
Commentary: I like the glimpses we've gotten through Nadira's new "hippy dippy" persona over the last few issues. And I find this new twist with the Magic Town Sentience born of Whistler's Magic Bomb to be interesting and something that could be explored further as we head into the next season. But what I'm also starting to see potential in, is Koh and Nadira forming an odd sort of mutual aid society between them, with Koh feeling protective of Nadira, while she in turn continues to help him with his frustrations over not being able to reach a satisfied conclusion in avenging his family's deaths as Illyria's hands.
I do wish that the whole idea of Koh vs. Fred over Illyria hadn't taken such a back seat though. I believe it would be more interesting if there continued to be this simmering resentment from him toward her, and a bit of fear from her toward him as he's constantly waiting for Illyria's return to re-engage her in battle.
I'd like to see Koh being the ally that can't fully be trusted because of the demands of his heritage, with Faith and Angel having to walk a fine line between making him a part of the extended family, while also fearing that Fred and He are going to come to a crisis point over Illyria at some point.
Page 06: At the Magic Town police precinct, Brandt is offered beers by a few cops, but begs off for paperwork.
He goes into his office, but finds Angel waiting for him.
Page 07: Angel and Brandt have a moment of eye contact. Both sense exactly what has happened, and Brandt is the first to break the sudden stalemate. He fangs out, and leaps across the room to tackle Angel to the floor.
Commentary: I feel badly about Brandt. I liked him. And I liked the light and friendly sort-of flirty thing he had going with Faith.
Page 08: Angel wrestles with Brandt, sarcastically telling him how he was always such a help to Team Angel... so concerned on what was going on in Magic Town. Even giving them the valuable clue to help track down Archaeus' lair... but funny how it was a trap laid out for them.
Brandt offers that nobody can stand up to Archaeus.
Page 09: Brandt offers that Archaeus isn't just powerful, but he's smart and he learns. He learned a thing or two from Angel and Buffy's fight in California, and he's got a far reaching plan in motion.
Angel scoffs at Brandt thinking that turning one detective is evidence of Archaeus' far reach, but actually Archaeus has turned more than just Brandt and his fellow officers have his back!
Commentary: Which makes Angel seem a bit flat-footed and kind of a dunderhead, actually. You'd think experience would've at least had him scope the place out when he knew Brandt wasn't there first, just to check the situation out. Then again, Angel does have a habit of blundering into situations, especially when he's a bit pissed off.
Page 10: Meanwhile, in the middle of Magic Town, one of the transformed... an old woman turned goblin, is walking her little dog.
She and 'Dimples' is interrupted in their evening constitutional by the Warrior Statue stepping off of the dais it was set upon by Archaeus' family.
Page 11: Probably out of curiousity more than anything, the Statue/Probably Magic Town Sentience snatches up the little dog for a closer look. Old lady Goblin tries hitting the statue with her umbrella and demanding her dog back, but his casually slapped away to the ground.
Page 12: Over at the Precinct, Angel has had to let Brandt go in order to engage the newcomers. Brandt berates Angel for not coming home into the Archaeus fold and readies to stake him instead. But his rant is cut short by the arrival of Faith, who stakes him through the back.
She throws out a crack regarding Angel's stubbornness to boot.
Commentary: Poor Brandt. Poor, poor Brandt. I seem to be the only one feeling any kind of sorrow for his loss.
Page 13: In the meantime, as Angel is asking the room why everyone keeps calling him stubborn when he feels he's made a lot of progress with the whole teamwork thing, he's also grabbing up one of the clubs of the bobbies, snapping it in half with a hard blow, and staking the two partners into dust.
Page 14: Faith says that she knows Angel wanted to do the one-on-one with Brandt, but she thought that she should check on the situation. Angel offers that is why they make such a good pair, she always has his back when he goes rushing in not quite as prepared as he thought he was.
Faith is a bit surprised, but Angel tells her that he trusts in her instincts to tell her when to listen to what he wants, and when he's just being blind to where his impulsive behavior might lead.
Page 15: He and Faith discuss Archaeus' plans, and how once again they're on their own in a mess.
It's business as usual, in other words.
Page 16: Elsewhere, Drusilla is bringing word to Archaeus that his gift of a physical shell for the Sentience has apparently been accepted by the Magic Town Entity. This pleases him mightily. It's enough to temper his disappointment over Dru's flubbing up and allowing Faith and her allies to escape.
He offers Dru that she is very fortunate that he holds her in such high regards.
He commands that his troops be summoned in order for them to go meet with the Entity and begin the negotiations on their new partnership in earnest.
Commentary: I find myself liking Archaeus as a villain, but I really would like to see him far more brutish and scary than he's being portrayed here. I get that he's being reasonable because he's more focused on long term plans than the usual villain, but I wish they'd have him manhandle Drusilla a bit more to give us more reason to be afraid on her behalf for her failures.
She's basically not doing well, really, in carrying out his plans but he seems to keep shrugging it off, which makes her reverential fear read as overreacting a bit. If he grabbed her wrist painfully in this scene, towering over her and talking about her good fortune in his affection, it would make her stuttering in his presence more effective.
Page 17: Meanwhile, in the center of Magic Town, the Entity is continue to examine the small dog while Old lady Goblin screeches for some help.
She's assisted by two guys in work uniforms. One human, one transformed and they approach with a wrench and an iron bar.
Commentary: Yeah. It all seems as pointless as it looks, considering it's a METAL STATUE they're confronting.
Page 18: Our two heroes are pathetically easily batted away. Human finds himself about to be stomped to death by the metal edifice.
Page 19: But Nadira, the Fairweathers, Koh and Fred have arrived, having tracked down where the Magic Town Entity currently is located. Nadira shouts for the Entity to stop what it's doing.
She explains patiently to the Entity that they don't understand what is happening and are afraid, just like it's afraid. She offers that they can figure things out together, but not if it goes on hurting people.
The newly embodied Entity puts down the dog, apparently still feeling a kinship with Nadira.
Page 20: Nadira tries to explain that she can sense in it that it wants to be like the beings it perceives around it and that it wants to touch and to feel, but she goes on to explain that this metal body can't accomplish those things. She sympathizes with how out of place the Entity has felt, but she tells it that the metal body inhabited is fake.
Page 21: How much of this the Entity is understanding is up for grabs, but it startles Nadira by grabbing her wrist in its tight, metal hand.
Fred takes this for Nadira being hurt and rushes forward to help her, despite her warning that she's going to scare It.
Fred struggles anyway to remove the Metal Statue's hand from around Nadira's wrist, which is enough to make the Entity respond in kind.
He grabs Fred by the throat... and that's enough for her to be frightened into losing her hold over Illyria!
Page 22: Mystic Energy is released from Illyria, knocking the Entity's hands off of Nadira and herself and pushing the former Slayer to the ground.
Illyria reacts with indignant outrage to the Magic Town Entity daring to mandhandle an Old One.
Soph asks if things just got better or worse and Koh offers things have just gotten much worse....
The Good: Nadira's interactions with this maturing Entity are interesting, and I like that the Entity struggling with Its being so different than the beings it perceives around it.
The Bad: Sometimes Angel is really written like a complete Dunderhead, and it drives me crazy. I just don't buy that he wouldn't at least suspect that more police than just Brandt had been turned before the confrontation takes place.
Other Thoughts: The old woman and her puppy was a little too twee to me. I kinda wish that the Entity has smashed the dog just to cut through the cuteness.
I also didn't really like the way that Faith and Angel seem to just blow off Brandt, but it is a bit justified. Angel was always standoffish toward him, and Faith didn't really get far into getting to know him. Still, I wish we'd gotten a bit more pathos in his loss and a bit less of the Old lady Goblin hitting a metal statue shins over her dog.
I'd also like them to add a bit more threat to Archaeus, especially when it comes to his disappointment with Drusilla's lack of results. We really need to be afraid for her to make Archaeus more than another mouthy bad guy [like the Master's killing Buffy did for him].
The Score: This issue, though it does push forward a development with the Entity, Archaeus' plans and Nadira's understanding of what the Magic Town Entity is looking for... it's all a bit low key. There isn't enough urgency in anything, mostly because too many panels are of the Entity sitting like a lump while everyone frets over the dog it's examining.
3.0 out of 5 star
Next Up: Kojack: The Night Stalkers "The Zombie".