Or – “Shadows, Echoes And Unfinished Business…”

All the world’s magic is gone, thanks to Buffy Summers, now persona non grata to thousands of former slayers and magic-users around the world.  After the horrible consequences of the war with Twilight, rogue slayer Faith and vampire-with-a-soul Angel have gone to London to find themselves a whole new life.  Of course, when you live in the ancestral home of one Rupert “Ripper” Giles, you’re likely to find yourself a few secrets here and there…

ANGEL & FAITH #1
Scripter: Christos Gage
Artist: Rebekah Issacs
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Editor(s): Scott Allie & Sierra Hahn
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Angel & Faith:  Longtime enemies-turned-allies of Buffy Summers, Faith Lehane and the mysterious vampire known as Angel have been through a literal apocalypse.  Having lost watcher Giles, the only one she believed had any faith in her, Faith has retreated to his London home.  Angel, for his part, was the man who killed Giles (albeit while he was possessed by Twilight), and has also found his world changed in a likewise not nice way, and has spent the last several weeks sitting silently and reading Giles journals.  What do you do when you’ve lost everything?  Start looking for something else…

Rupert Giles, Monster Hunter!

Some years ago, rumors swirled about a possible BBC series or miniseries starring Anthony Stuart Head (who played Giles in the Buffy television series, and is also the younger brother of ‘One Night In Bangkok’ singer Murray Head, making this an inordinately and unnecessary complex parenthetical statement) having solo adventures as Giles, called “Ripper.”  Some say this may still happen, others are noncommittal, but either way, we get a taste of what that might have been like at the beginning of this issue.  It’s actually a really clever conceit, toying with the idea that the loss of any one person has unseen repercussions, but even more so when that person is a mystical troubleshooter type, especially if he used his own life force to bind a demon.  Some time ago, Giles saved a young girl from possession by a demonic force from beyond, but proved unable to remove the creature from her mind, instead choosing to keep it bound by doing some arcane mumbo-jumbo and sacrificing “one of the best days of [his] life” to keep it under wraps.  Since the girl’s well-being is tied to Giles, and we know Giles died in Season 8 of Buffy, it’s clear that someone is going to have to deal with this situation…  Did somebody call for Faith?

A Debt Of Honor…

Cut to the present day, as the very same evil demon (a particularly lovely nightmare image by artist Rebekah Isaacs, I might add, all razor-spines and pincers and such, colored a deep blood red) fights Angel and Faith.  I was initially a bit concerned about how this one going to work, as the Buffy’s comics are usually a first-person affair, but the writer jumps right in giving us both Angel and Faith’s thoughts:  “He can do this,” thinks Faith.  “I can’t do this!” thinks Angel.  Heh.  The Superman/Batman storytelling model works really well for these two characters, and Angel’s brutal tactics (he sinks his fangs into the demon’s host, causing the creature to panic and abandon her body) works where Giles’ thoughtful spellcasting couldn’t.  It seems clear that Faith & Angel, at least, have kept their powers even as the magic has been turned off (as per the case of ‘Westchester County V. Wanda Maximoff’, where the legal decision clearly states that all characters who are currently contracted to appear in solicited comics are immune to any power-removing frammistatery) but that they’re both scarred by the events of Season 8.   We even get the setup of old chickens coming home to roost as a couple of Angel’s old Twilight-era cronies end up in London gunning for their old boss…  There are a couple of well-done storyline fakeouts in the issue, and the ending is a pretty shocking moment for the readers and for Faith, but still seems perfectly in character for Angel, who has always loved his lost causes.

The Verdict: Dushku-licious!

If you’ve ever read a licensed comic, you know that one of the biggest problems is in making the characters LOOK like the characters they’re supposed to be.  In the core Buffy book, it’s always an issue, as both Alyson Wilowgan and Sarah Michelle Buffy have particularly hard-to-capture facial features.  The art team on this book either has an easier job (Eliza Dushku’s features are fuller and more symmetrical than either of those actresses) or they’re working harder at it, because Faith and Giles are spot-on, and Angel is always in the ballpark enough that you don’t worry too much about it.  From a story perspective, this book throws us in the deep end, but gives us what we need to know:  Angel has been nearly catatonic since the end of Season 8, and only reading about the poor doomed girl in Giles’ journals has brought him back to himself, while Faith is just riding the wheel of fortune and enjoying having a roof over her head with no prison guards.  At first, these two might seem like an odd pairing but there’s a lovely sort of synergy in the two characters together, reminding me of when they paired off Daimon Hellstrom and Patsy Walker:  obvious, in hindsight.  All in all, this issue sets us off on an intriguing adventures, shows us the characters flaws rather than monologuing about them, gives us a quest (one that is both wacky and touching at the same time) and an enemy to overcome, doing everything that  #1 issue is supposed to do.  Angel & Faith #1 is the kind of book that will appeal even to non-Buffy fans, earning a very impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★★½

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Having not read the IDW Angel books since about issue #5, did I miss anything super-awesome?  Is there anything that can’t have happened in the new Dark Horse continuity?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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2 Comments

  1. September 2, 2011 at 3:25 pm — Reply

    Wow, can’t wait to read it…in trade.

  2. September 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm — Reply

    Angel’s IDW series was written by Joss Whedon ’til about #17, and then given permission to keep going. While some would consider this NOT cannon (even though the things that happen have to pass Whedon’s approval desk anyway). But just in case there were any doubts, when Whedon brought the Angel license to Darkhorse from IDW, it was said by both him and Darkhorse that they intend to both respect, and continue on, from the writings that IDW created.

    …In short? All of IDW happened, and is considered canon.

    There’s nothing done in IDW that can’t happen in Darkhorse, and expect to see the IDW events referenced–they said they’d do as much, themselves. They kinda have to be, they set up some very big things. Joss has already stated he has plans for Illyria and Connor from what happened in IDW, already.

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