Angel & Faith
Season 02, Issue 25
“A Tale of Two Families” part V
Writer: Victor Gischler, Art: Will Conrad, Coloring: Michelle Madsen, Lettering: 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 on the confrontation between Team Angel and Team Archaeus, with the Sentient Magic of Magic Town in its new body gazing on the two arguing.
Archaeus is raging at Angel for not joining the family when he had his chance. He promises Angel that he’ll be torn to pieces, but his raging is interrupted by Drusilla who tells him to kill Faith first, and make Angel watch.
He isn’t pleased at being interrupted. A quick backhand sends Dru to the ground where she’s ordered to be quiet.
Sentient Magic watches this behavior.
Page 02: Archaeus tells the cowering Dru that all he requires from her is her obedience and to be ready to command her ‘children’ to attack on his orders.
Angel, still with feelings for Drusilla that he’s never been able to let go of, offers that she’s not cared for by him and she should let Archaeus go.
Archaeus insults Angel for being so soft on his enemies and offers it’s time to put an end to his ‘tedious predictability’.
From off screen, a voice shouts out to “hold on a minute ya ugly bugger”…
Commentary: Okay… so. A lot of chitchat and posturing going on, which strikes me as a bit of a weird opening since we’ve already done the posturing tough-talk at the end of last issue -- which already felt like stretching out the confrontation to fill pages.
I was surprised by the sudden backhand to Dru, though, so I’m hoping that we’re setting up Drusilla’s breaking from Archaeus’ hold here. Or that she doesn’t break away after all, and Angel finally dusts her -- which should’ve really happened by SOMEBODY at this point.
Page 03: The voice belongs to the bartender, Rory. And he’s leading the mutated residents of Magic Town, along with Parker -- the young man involved with the mutated girl Tricia, and herself.
They stand up for Angel and company and warn that anyone who wants to mess with them, messes with the whole community.
Page 04: This isn’t a problem for Achaeus as he shouts the command to “KILL them all!”
The vampires surge forward and a chaotic brawl erupts under the watchful gaze of the Magic Sentience.
Page 05: As the brawl continues, Faith targets Dru. Drusilla tries to crazy-ramble about how Faith is but a child, a snowflake on the wind drifting toward a fire….
Faith punches her in the face and tells her it’s past time to put a cork in the crazy talk.
Commentary: I love Dru. I do. But she’s never really paid for what she did to Kendra, and I just don’t know where else she can go as an antagonist. It’d be nice if our comic continuations would go ahead and get rid of one of the television characters since they didn’t leave Rupert or Illyria dead, and failed to kill Dawn or Oz or Gunn - permanently or Kate, or Connor - permanently, or Harmony.
It’s okay to step away from the television series and shake things up a bit, Guys.
And Drusilla more than has it coming.
Page 06: Over with Archaeus, Angel is confronting the big guy. The Master Vampire tells Angel he’s going to enjoy ending his existence. But Angel points out how many times he’s threatened that, and Angel is still there.
He also tells Archaeus that it won’t matter either way. If Angel falls, there will be another to step forward to replace him. He tells Archaeus that is because family is stronger than minions, something he can’t grasp.
Archaeus will never be as strong as he thinks he is, because nobody is really loyal to him.
Page 07: From a mid-distance away, one of our regular residents shouts that Angel is in trouble, after Koh was easily shaken off by Archaeus leaving Angel alone in the big confrontation for the moment.
Everyone gathers to enact a pre-discussed plan. This begins with Archaeus being pelted by smashing bottles of holy water. And as he’s telling the mortals that their insolent… well, the insult never gets finished.
Because the Magic Town residents dog pile on him, with those mutated residents who received the enhanced strength trait, taking lead.
Commentary: I liked this bit a lot. I liked the image of the Magic Town residents, who’ve been pretty far in the background and only popping up in cameos, coming together to protect their own. And it was nice that the usual bruiser characters, who would ordinarily be fighting Angel, just ‘cause are not only there in the action on his side, but are taking point against the Big Bad.
It does continue to undercut Archaeus as the big threat, though. Maybe he was always supposed to have been seen as much weaker than he thought he was, because civilization has moved on since his time and people are less cowed by shows of strength than he’s used to?
Page 08: Elsewhere in the battle, Rory is confronted by a transformed-to-wolf vampire.
Other of Dru’s minions are getting overwhelmed and staked.
Tricia stakes an attacker, while Parker stands back to back with her. He complains that his vampire is misting around, making it impossible to hit him.
One of Drusilla’s turned, glances over the brawl and decides that there are too many defenders.
Page 09: Nearby, other turned pick up the thought and complain that they were told that this would be easy pickin’s. Drusilla’s army starts coming apart as the minions decide that this is a lost battle for nothing worth having. They start bugging out on Archaeus.
He shouts at Dru to get her cowards back in line. But after taking stock of the battle, she also decides to turn tale to his outrage, and also retreats down the block.
Archaeus is left standing alone.
Page 10: And if you think Angel was going to let this development go by without blabbity-blabbing on about it, well… I had hoped.
But no. Angel and Faith tell Archaeus about how family is always more powerful than minions because real family are motivated by mutual respect and caring, while all he had was an enforced manufactured fake family.
He was always guaranteed to fail.
Commentary: Thank you, Faith.
Now stop talking and start sword-slashing.
Page 11: Archaeus is pissed. He shouts at Faith to stop lecturing him, and shows the weakness of family by snatching up Nadira, who is a) standing around way too close to the Old Vampire, and b) again failing to respond with those Slayer reactions of hers.
Archaeus goes on with a speech of his own [blustering speeches seems to be his real forte]. He bellows that he can’t imagine what Angel and residents thought they were accomplishing with their temporary and little victory. He asks Angel if he really imagined he’d escape without paying a price for his continued opposition to his Lord.
He promises that he’ll start collecting that price with Nadira’s life.
Angel shouts at him not to, but Nadira is relatively unconcerned. She tells Archaeus that he’s making a real mistake.
While across the plaza, the Magic Town Sentience gazes on his confidant and mentor being threatened.
Commentary: Yeah… I’m not really thrilled with these last two pages. I hate repetitive speeches and we’ve already had the “family” lesson before. And for Archaeus being so, so powerful [supposedly] and so, so evil [definitely] and so, so ambitious [certainly], it really feels like a misstep to not keep the panels focused on battling, rather than speechifying at him.
After we’ve spent so many pages across two titles setting up Archaeus having such uncanny power over the vampires of his bloodline, this whole thing is just coming across as an anti-climax and that, really, just completes by letdown of him as the Big Bad for the season. I’m afraid that he just wasn’t realized or utilized, and I CANNOT believe that we’re not getting a true, pages long, down and dirty, fist to fist throw down between Illyria and Archaeus over which Old Dude is more powerful, with plenty of verbal barbs thrown between them.
That really feels like a waste of potential.
Page 12: The Bronze Statue that the Entity is currently inhabiting starts to thrum, and a mystic fog starts exiting from the statue’s eyes.
Archeaus reacts with confusion… and is that fear?
Nadira is dropped to the ground, and she tells Archaeus that he may be a Demon Lord, but the Entity is pure magic and far greater than he could ever hope to become.
Meanwhile, the mist of the entity surrounds and curls around Archaeus.
Page 13: Archaeus begs for release from the Entity’s grasp, but he’s lifted off of his feet and starts to go transparent. His physical body is altered into a fog of its own, to his yell off despair.
Nadira, speaking to nobody in particular, observes that the Entity is like a child, in that children are smart. They can pick up when somebody is talking down to them, and by implication can tell when somebody is a bad man.
Page 14: As everyone is surrounded by the thrumming of the bronze statue, they watch the mystic fog containing Archaeus enter the statue. Magical writing on the armband of the statue glows for a moment.
Faith asks Nadira about what his happening, and she replies that the Magical Entity has decided to return Archaeus’ gift.
Page 15: Everyone watches as the statue’s eyes are seared and the bronze melted over.
Angel and Faith guess that Archaeus has been sealed inside of the statue, which Nadira confirms.
Everyone is relieved to have this latest threat over with another win. But Koh points out that Archaeus was right, though … they didn’t get out of this one unscathed.
Commentary: I’m of two minds about this ending. I think I like that it’s the Entity, who has been taking up a lot of Nadira’s time, who comes to the conclusion that Archaeus’ gift was not indicative of his caring about the Entity and dealing with him.
But I also feel like there wasn’t enough store to really fill this one. The battle really could’ve been much more intense than we got, and the whole thing just felt a bit lackluster to me. I wasn’t excited or worried for our characters, which is just wrong for them battling the supposed bad ass.
And where were the scenes of the good guys being overwhelmed before things turned around: Where were Fred, the Fairweathers, why wasn’t Alasdair involved in a magic battle against Archaeus, where was a power moment for Drusilla having one of our primaries on the ground and looking like it was to be lights out?
This all felt pretty perfunctory, and had too many speeches.
Page 16: That price which Koh referred to is Parker.
Trish cradles his bloody body as everyone else gathers around the fallen.
Page 17: Later, Rory meets Angel at the stoop of Faith’s new apartment.
Rory has stopped by with a free case of beer to thank Faith and company for saving the neighborhood and he now wants to thank Angel for watching over them all.
Angel replies that he owes the thanks to them for having his back on this one.
Page 18: On Faith’s rooftop, everyone is under the stars having an impromptu barbecue and picnic. Angel notes with some amusement that Koh is working the grill. Eldre mentions the Nitobe ritual of the first hunt among his clan, in which a young hunter always skins and cooks his kill for the entire community.
Angel mentions that it looks more like burgers from the grocer. Koh mentions dropping his on the ground.
Nearby, Fred is trying to unload her potato salad, but Sophronia complains all that mayonnaise goes straight to the thighs.
Angel joins Faith and Nadira, where he asks what they do next and Faith tells Nadira that she was right, and Angel can’t take one night to just relax.
Page 19: Angel tells them he can be the most relaxed out of anyone there and Faith hands him a beer before he strains something ‘relaxing’ so hard.
Angel admits he finds it difficult to be ‘off duty’ as it were. He’s worried about the Entity being off in the wild, now that they’ve seen the power it can bring to bare.
Commentary: Okay, this is all okay… it’s mildly amusing, and I like getting some wind down time for our characters. I also liked the mild joshing between Angel and Koh, and I liked that Faith and Nadira were joking at Angel’s expense about his tendency to always be brooding on something.
It’s painlessly cute.
Page 20: Nadira tells Angel that she still feels the Magic out there, but it’s quiet. She thinks the Entity is reflecting on the events of the past few days.
Meanwhile, Fred finds a fascinated Koh to try her potato salad on.
Page 21: Nadira goes on to tell Angel that he taught the Entity a valuable lesson on community. Whereas Archaeus saw ‘family’ as a resource to be exploited, Angel showed the Magic Town Sentience that it’s all about giving, and standing with them to provide and protect.
She’s very optimistic about where the Sentience is going as a being.
Which leaves Angel feeling more optimistic. As Nadira goes for another beer, Angel turns conversation to Faith and her getting back to exploring her options now that this latest threat is out of the way. Faith offers that she’s done with her recent walkabout/Deepscan/Zane’s Pharmaceuticals adventure and right now she just wants to bask in being surrounded by these people who’ve embraced her.
Commentary: Which, to me is a very good thing. I really like this Faith/Angel team up - though what exactly they’ll do with it now that the whole Giles’ resurrection conflict and the team up against Archaeus thing is done, I’m not sure.
But I’ve always liked the Faith/Angel dynamic so I’m glad that Faith is ‘back in the fold’ so to speak. I look forward to seeing where these two go next season.
Page 22: Angel and Faith both agree with me that it’s a good thing for her to be ‘home’ for awhile. They klink beers to that.
Nadira is with Sophronia and Lavinia laughing riotously over something.
And Koh is trying a forkful of Fred’s potato salad.
The Good: It was a bit cliche, I suppose, but I did like the community of Magic Town coming out to support Angel in his dangerous fight against Archaeus and his vampire army. It was nice to have even the local toughs understanding that Angel cared about their community, while Archaeus was only for himself.
I enjoyed the street brawl panels, and I liked the color scheme used for the Entity exercising its considerable powers.
It's always nice when Drusilla's rambles are interrupted by a good left hook.
The Bad: My real problem is that this whole issue just kind of ambles along... when it's the Big Battle! The pacing isn't right for this final confrontation issue and it's bothersome. It's too anti-climactic.
Other Thoughts: My first thought in regards to this issue, and really the whole Archaeus thing, is it's mildly disappointing. It really feels like a lot more could've been done to make Archaeus a real threat, like he'd felt at the beginning of this arc that just wasn't carried through to the past several issues.
The dialog scenes were a bit much, to me. Yeah, yeah... the family we build is important and more powerful than somebody like Archaeus could comprehend... blah-blah- crush some heads to disprove this, Archaeus. I can appreciate the family message, but I don't like the heavy handed blabbing about it.
The waste of potential was a bit of a bummer. They could've shocked us by having Faith, Angel or even Koh kill Drusilla. They could've shaken the cast to their core before their win by putting somebody important, like Giles' great aunts, Faith, or Nadira in a world of hurt. They could've had Illyria pop up and had Archaeus and her go hand to hand. But we did get... great speechifying....
The Score: It's um. It's ... okay. Which isn't really a season-finale type issue against the Big Bad, and should've been.
3.0 out of 5 stars