Review, Angel & Faith #20 (Spike and Faith)

26 03 2013

CREATORS

Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Cover Artist: Rebekah Isaacs

The final piece of Giles’s soul has been gathered, but naturally, bigger problems arise for our heroes! Having three personalities within Angel -himself plus Angelus and Giles- has the ensouled vampire struggling for his sanity. And, since he’s the only one who was actually privy to the ultimate plan for Giles’s resurrection, Spike and Faith have their hands full working out how to safely bring Angel back to his senses…

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First of all, full spoilers will follow.
And second, I will adopt my Spike fan persona in this review. I haven’t done that so far, but I will in this one. Be prepared.

So, we’re almost reaching the end of this book, at least for this season. One more arc to go, and before that we have today’s issue, named as “Spike and Faith”. And of course it’s Spike and Faith, since the two of them are left to clean up the mess from the previous issue. A crazy/catatonic Angel, no fellow slayers, just them and Alaric. And the way things are right now, with no magic, only one kind of artifact can work to reach out for Giles’s soul, out of Angel’s body without having any danger of releasing Angelus into the world. Problem is that this artifact is in the hands of some demons who feed on souls. To make a long story short, Faith with Spike get it, and then get Giles’s soul out of Angel, all went well.

Now, let’s talk about it for a while. First of all, I’d like to address the “best bad guy” title that Spike got from editor Scott Allie in one of the previous issues. You really can’t have the cake and eat it too. If Angel is a totally different being from Angelus, the exactly same thing must work on Spike as well.
Spike, the one with a soul, is a totally different being from the one without the soul, let’s call him Spikelus to make things more clear. So, all the bad things were done by Spikelus. What is the worst thing that Spike, the ensouled one, has done ever since The Grave, when his body took his soul back and he was brought back into this world? Burnt Buffy’s hand in Chosen? Run a playboy mansion for a cover? Crush on the Big Ben? Tortured the Doctor? Was rude to his bugs? What has the “best bad guy” of the Buffyverse done to deserve such a title?

Then let’s go back to Angel. Watch the slideshow with the preview pages and tell me what you think of it. In just one page, every single one is mentioned: Angelus is a demon, no he is a personality, no he is a being, no he is a persona. In the previous issue, Spike talked about 3 beings into Angel’s body, meaning Angelus, Angel and Giles. Now he takes it back, and he says that Angelus is not a being, but he is a demon who is always present. As if as Spike says that a demon is always present in everyone, so that makes Angelus the dark side of Angel, so the same being, two different aspects of the same person. I am confused, either make up your minds on which way you’ll follow, or if you want to keep it vague and an eternal argument, just don’t come up with stories and arcs that have to do with it. Simple as that.

Then we have Spike. In just one single issue, he made a move on Faith and on both of the aunts, only to get the door slammed right in front of his face and he was left only with the company of a bottle to drink from. He is still not over Buffy, and maybe Buffy actually preferred him as a monster. Even since he’s been able to feel human emotions again, he’s been rejected. I personally enjoy sex. And I don’t mind fooling around. I was the one to tell friends that I don’t mind if I see Spike getting some fun. He owes nothing to Buffy, it’s not like he would be cheating, they are not together. He is a guy, and he’s hot, why shouldn’t he? But like that?

And what I mean. On my first reading, I thought that Angel texted Spike although he was right next to him, to thank him for his help. And I actually found that cute, I liked it. It was in the second reading that I realized that Angel couldn’t keep on seeing Spike like that, so what he actually texted him was not a “thanks”, but it was Harmony’s phone number. In other words, so that Spike could have some sex to get over that mood. With Harmony? Really? Couldn’t they think of something better? Not to mention that I actually hate the fact that Harmony, from a blond chick that was in the show, has actually become a pornostar in the Dark Horse Comics.

Oh, and Angel is not over Buffy, he also admits that, not only Spike. Make both shippers happy. I just hope they won’t try to also make Banders happy in the following Buffy issue in two weeks.

A little bit about the art. I enjoy Rebekah’s art, really, a lot. Her Faith is great, Angel not that much, faces look the same in almost every panel, characters don’t look the same if you change the colors, background details, emotions, everything. But like I said, my inner Spike fan talks in this review. So, unfortunately, her version of Spike is not that good. There are panels that Spike really looks awful. And others just he’s just average. So, I give her a 5 out of 10 in this issue, I’m sorry.

So, was that a good issue? The first half of it, yes it was. Spike was brave, risked to help Faith and Angel, actually killed the demons almost by himself, Faith was clever to push his right buttons to make him get the best out of him, etc. The problems with this issue actually come at the end of it. Angel acting as a pimp? Harmony back for sex? Spike so desperate for sex? No, I could have actually done better without reading the last part of the issue. Sorry.

At least I can be happy thinking that he didn’t make a move on Sebastian. Or Irene the bug-zompire. I can be happy that there were worse options out there that weren’t followed. (Crossing my fingers I don’t give them any future ideas though).

Georgia


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13 responses

27 03 2013
Stoney

I can’t even believe how deeply they have decided to trash Spike in this crossover. The potential was great but they have just made him look like a complete dick. Spike learnt in A5 that he treated Harmony like crap so for Angel to just pimp her out to him is totally foul. I can’t believe they did this, for either vamp tbh. Spike is a free agent, if he wanted to have meaningless sex that would hardly have been a problem but they even make him out to only be able to get a booty call from Harmony, geez. So the point is supposed to be that he is trying to get over Buffy but can’t, fine, but did they have to make him play the desperate fool with no standards to do it for gods sake. I can’t wait to see the back of him in this title.

27 03 2013
nmcil12

Thanks for the great review – based on what this writer and Dark Horse did to the character in the last issue – this does not surprise me. And Dark Horse continues it’s, IMO, disgusting portrayal of use of women – I don’t care of it is Harmony. And Angel, doing another round of “let’s screw a women” and use her for our sexual needs and comfort. Maybe Angel should text Andrew to come over and join his planned Harmony for Sex Party.

I hate to think what this writer and Dark Horse would do to the Spike character if they did not tell us that Spike was a character that they like and even admire. I had not thought it possible that I would ever come across a worse characterization of Spike then was done with the Willingham IDW work until the last Dark Horse issue.

I’m glad the Spike fans, who do have a great admiration and respect for the character and his struggles to transform himself to a better vamp/man, have a least the first part of the issue to look forward to.

On the “soul thing” – I think Dark Horse can’t figure out how to bring the character back from all the damage that was one in their Twilight Time debacle and so they have to take every opportunity to give him a better face and remind their readers that Angel really is a “hero and good guy” – and that we should just forget all the horrors he help to initiate on Buffy and this world.

I cannot believe that the writer and Dark Horse actually have the never to even mention Buffy and Angel again in any manner other than Angel being in abject humiliation and enormous guilt after all that he has done to her.

Tell you the truth, all I want is for this season to end – the more I read the more I feel a great sadness for what has become of these characters in these comic books.

Soon I will be able to read it and probably weep with my digital copy.

27 03 2013
ubi4softubi4soft

For the definition of character bashing see Spike’s portrayal by Christos Gage in this issue of A&F

Sigh

27 03 2013
Veiriti

When I read issue #19 I thought that Gage’s characterization of Spike was the second worst after Bill Whilingham’s characterization. I was wrong. Gage’s characterization of Spike is the worst, stupid and wrong characterization of my favorite character that I’ve ever read. “Thank” you Mr. Gage and Mr. Allie, you’ve totally made me lose my hope and interest to the comics.

27 03 2013
Veiriti

I’d like to add. I think I got it – the “creative” Dark Horse team intentionally denigrated the Spike’s character and made him to look him like a silly shallow jerk in a favor of Angel. Is that their way to make Angel a “worthy hero” again and to mate him in the end with Buffy …
Good for you Mr. Gage! You made my hero Spike a worthless whore,a desperate for a shagg silly smoking and drinking jerk! :( You just literally raped and twisted Spike’s character, in a favour of the “saint” Angel, who, hmmm… is not over Buffy and never will be, even after everything that he has done to her!!! Well done, Mr. Gage! That wouldn’t be easy even for a twisted pro-Bangel biasing mind to think up a cheap parody shit like that!
Gigi, sorry for my rant, it has nothing to your review, which I liked. Sorry again, but I’m really angry and frustrated about this, you’re free to delete my post if you like…

27 03 2013
Fenixjpb

Can I say..I feel sick with this, because honest I feel sick. Gage ruined the entire story. Ruined Spike character is painful to see.. Trying to make Angel a hero again please!! dont use all this crap again, Angel is not a hero and Spike is not a jerk like he wrote! This person obviusly never watch the serie, even dont read the other comics when Spike was thinking and loving Buffy. Im sad and dissapinted. This had alot to potential but now they show again it not worth it. I was so happy for Spike rejecting Morgan because his feeling for Buffy are real. And now they made this stupid thing with Harmony? Honest is not Spike, I dont know why or what they do it, but is like their mission is ;”fuck the fans we gonna do anything we want and made their fav characters a group of idiots desperate to shag” Im not gonna stay here to see how they destroy my fav character. Im official done with the comics now. Im no reading or buying them anymore!

27 03 2013
Elena

Thank you for the review, Georgia. At least, I was prepared to see what I saw.

Still, I was surprised by the laziness of the issue.

The plot is standard one-shot. They need to extract Giles’ soul out of Angel’s body – they extract it. Oh, and Spike wants to get laid, so he gets laid. Somehow the scene of the actual extraction of Giles’ soul – the crucial scene of the issue – is the most boring and generic.

Characters. The good news is that Faith is written awesomely. The bad news is that Spike is written terribly. He’s downgraded to his season 2 persona – shallow, dumb braggart who enjoys insulting Angel. This Spike doesn’t have layers, doesn’t have inner life – he’s just a function.

And – sorry, mr. Gage, Spike/Harmony scene is sleazy. Even if it was Saint Angel’s idea.

Overall, I’m disappointed. I was warned, but I didn’t expect Gage would regress Spike THAT much.

Besides, the issue is written and edited very sloppily. Is Faith supposed to talk to herself on the panel where she offers to dust Angel? Or it’s an editor’s mistake?

27 03 2013
kikima27

Let’s make a list, shall we?
- Spike admires Angel not only because he’s such a hero but also because he went in LA and totally forget Buffy! Why didn’t do such a brave act?!
- Angel, the brave hero who went in LA to forget Buffy, didn’t really forget Buffy at all. But who cares? He also had other women apart from miss Summers. He scored!
- Spike didn’t want to have sex with Morgan but now he can’t keep it in his pants.
- It’s all Angel’s fault. Spike just wanted to have sex again with Buffy and he actually scored with the sad story of “I have a soul, you see? I’m tormented”. Bad Angel for giving false hopes to a guy!
- Why Spike didn’t thought before about staying soulless? Buffy liked him better that way! And he didn’t actually believed that she wanted a monster in her man. He didn’t tell that to Riley. He’s thinking it JUST NOW.
- Harmony wasn’t hurt by Spike’s behaviour in S5 of Angel. She’s soulless and she doesn’t feel any pain so why they don’t have sex?

This issue is disgusting. I’m sorry, I can’t find a better word to express my feelings.

28 03 2013
maggie2222

Leaving aside the last three pages, I liked the issue much better than most fans. I think the conversation between Spike and Faith, and Spike’s monologue with Angel were all well done. He’s hurting, he’s trying to figure things out. People say things in pain that aren’t their deepest truths. So I actually do think the writing there is nuanced and rich. Anyway, that was all really good — and it was a real treat to finally see Spike portrayed as smart, brave, and even thoughtful/compassionate.

Then there are those last three pages. And I agree that once they are there, they make some of the other stuff that went before look differently. Anyway, I have no idea what Gage or the editorial staff were thinking. The only good thing (?) is that Angel gets to be a dick as well? I really don’t get it.

28 03 2013
Tennyoelf

I think you are very kind to this issue. But what they put in Spike’s mouth is reminiscent of soulless Spike. He is a jerk with Nice Guy syndrome that belittles his soul and what it means. Just compare his speech in Touched with this. I know Spike doesn’t believe this, in fact I don’t think it would ever cross his mind to say the things he said to Faith and Angel about his soul and Buffy.

It also doesn’t really make a lick of sense. Spike has been gone from Buffy for years and he saw the spacefrak, so if anything he knew the rejection was coming. You could almost say he was preparing for it since Angel season 5. Spike wouldn’t blame Buffy, after his soul he wouldn’t. People always seem to think soulless Spike and souled Spike are pretty much the same except souled Spike just plays for the good guys. Souled Spike thinks differently than soulless Spike and Gage is not taking that into consideration. If soulless Spike was the dark side of William, and souled Spike pretty much William, those thoughts that Gage stuffed into Spike’s mouth even if they did pass in real Spike’s mind, his soul would dismiss them. It does a huge disservice to Spike and his respect for Buffy and himself to parade around saying those things and giving them air. So what you see as nuanced I see as disregard for Spike’s souled differences. But that is what happens when people don’t really pay attention to Spike’s character, as Gage did and many other comic writers. They see soulless Spike and souled Spike the same and do not respect the difference. It hurts the underlining theme of exploring the human condition and dark sides.

I think the sex at the end was also just plain wrong and came from no where and agian shows complete disrespect to Spike’s character and his feelings. The thing with Harmony in AtS5 can be fanwanked as Spike freaking out with being corporeal again (which can parallel Buffy’s resurrection slightly). After that Spike does whore himself out or is made out to be a sex-a-holic.

So really, I don’t see how any of issue 20 works except as a piss on Spike’s character by a couple of die hard Angel fans who got a kick out of it.

28 03 2013
Tennyoelf

I wish I could edit my original post. Correction: Spike does NOT whore himself out after that thing with Harm in AtS5.

28 03 2013
Tennyoelf

Another thing is that Spike left his mini feeling more sure of himself and his feelings for Buffy. He may still be hurting, but coming from his mini this behavior does not mesh with where he was in his mini. This issue back pedals his growth (which, granted, wasn’t much) and shows him to be extremely bitter. He came out of the mini thinking to to go back to Buffy but to do what? Him going back to Buffy now makes even less sense. If he felt, after his mini, that he wants to find a place for himself and that what he felt for Buffy was real and wants to continue to be around her, than why is bemoaning in this issue? As stoney says, it lacks maturity.

Spike can be hurting from this, but I would think after all this time and everything that has happened he would have a better head on his shoulders. I personally think him bemoaning and blaming Buffy and his soul for not getting what he wants to be very regressive of his character. How should they have shown a hurting Spike? Have we seen a hurting souled Spike in the past? Season 7 didn’t have time to really explore that, but AtS had clues. He drinks a lot and gets into fights and picks on the people around him, taking it out on others but in a way that wasn’t completely jerkish (more eyerollish, playful). He never blames others for his failures nor would he blame his soul after he got his soul. I could very much see Spike flirting and poking holes at Angel and Faith and getting really drunk if he was still hurting so much, but I just can’t see him do or say anything Gage seemed to have stuffed in hus mouth. And again, it goes against what was set up in his mini, which with better characterization, I think hold more truth to where Spike should be now than anything we have in AnF.

1 04 2013
_Buffy_

I like Spike monologue in basement. He reveal so good his feelings. He is not over Buffy and he is very hurt. I just can’t understand why he thinking that she prefers him without a soul. There is no point. The whole S 7 was exactly about how important to Buffy is Spike WITH a soul. I don’t believe she likes him without a soul more. She would never be so close with him if he is a soulless like he was in S 4- S 6. And IMO Spike so desperate wants to moved on, to get over her, that’s why he agreed to has a sex with Harmony. Angel thought that he makes him a favor. Well, it was very stupid idea But Spike was really desperate . He didn’t make it out with Harmony because he needs sex. He did it because he just can’t stand not to be with Buffy anymore.Every person has such a limits . May be Spike is on the edge now with his unshared feelings for Buffy and he just wants to rid of them. He just wants to forget. It doesn’t matter if there was harmony or another unknown girl. At least, Harmony is stupid enough to accept him again , despite all the humiliation which he give to her every time.

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