Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Preventing Pearl, Nash, and Whistler from releasing their magical virus proves difficult for Angel and Faith. The duo is outmatched! Enter Nadira—could this hate-filled Slayer lend a helpful hand or will she use this opportunity to end Angel for good?
Showdown with this season’s Big Bads!
Angel’s plan to resurrect Rupert Giles has come to fruition. Just not exactly as everyone had expected. But they’ll have to deal with the fallout from that later. Right now, Angel and Faith need all the help they can get to defeat Whistler, Pearl, and Nash, and their plan to overhaul life on earth with a magical virus!
I will start with a quick summary of the issue, very quick though, since not that many things happen in the issue, but there is a lot to discuss about it. So spoilers are following in the next paragraph.
Like we see in the preview pages, the issue starts immediately with the big fight. Angel and Faith using the rooftops and their feet managed to get to the fight earlier than the rest who were using the car, anyway, so the two of them are facing Whistler, Pearl and Nash, outnumbered. Nadira comes for help and she takes Nash, while Faith fights Pearl and Angel fights Whistler. A full of hate Nadira is strong but also careless and she gets killed. Whistler gives the virus to Nash, who starts flying away from them. Giles’s and Alasdair’s magic manage to hurt Nash and he drops the virus but neither Angel, nor Faith can catch it in time, and it is being released on the London population.
That’s all that happened. Actually when I turned the page and saw the letter column, I thought there was a mistake, it all seemed too quick. What can I say, I am not a fan of action and fight scenes, I prefer character development and plot. And this issue was full of fighting and nothing more, unfortunately for me.
But let’s come to some specific parts of the story. I don’t have a problem following the book. Actually I like it. I like the way that Christos Gage writes, he is stable in what he does and the way he gives it. There wasn’t any bad issue given by him in S9, unlike Buffy’s title. There were some average ones, and some pretty good ones. But not a bad one, I can’t say that. The problem is that in order to follow the story I have to totally forget S8. And that’s a bit hard for me, since I’ve just read all of it last weekend. But this is not Gage’s fault, this is Dark Horse’s fault.
But let me explain better. What Whistler does here, is what Angel did last season. Angel actually says “What we started…was to help people. That’s why I couldn’t go through with it, once I saw what was happening. I wanted to save people, not murder them”. So, did those 200+ slayers not count as people? Or the Spike guy that Angel ordered to get murdered? All the Twilight soldiers that died because Angel was their leader, leading them in a war against the slayers? Those weren’t people? Those weren’t killed because of Angel’s orders? If Angel didn’t want to murder people, then why did he murder all of them in S8?
And yes, some lalalaland lunatics will say that Angel didn’t kill anyone with his hand, so let me say back that Whistler in this issue doesn’t kill anyone. It’s Nash who kills Nadira, it’s Nash who goes up in the air to release the virus. If Angel is not culpable for all the people who died in S8, then Whistler is not responsible either, although he is behind the plan, he is the one who gives the virus to Nash, he is the one who wants to kill 1/3 of the human population. But what can I say, probably those lalaland lunatics will be happy with this paragraph and will blame it all to Pearl and Nash and declare Whistler as the good guy, like they’ve been doing more than 3 years now.
Basically, what happens is that S8 gets a retcon. If you don’t want to call it whitewashing Angel, that’s fine with me. But there is no way that you can’t call it a retcon, because that’s what it is. Both titles actually. Instead of having Angel dealing with the broken seed and having everyone angry at him for the broken seed, that’s Buffy’s story. Although breaking the seed at that point was her only option. And Angel gets to deal with the dead Giles, which actually would have been a better fitting story for the Buffy title. But probably since S6 was all about Buffy’s resurrection, the writing team preferred to transfer this story to the A&F title. There is no other way to explain this.
On the other hand, we have Faith. Who, in order to help Angel all season long with his plan, she neglected her girls and the promise she has made to herself and to Giles. And she has to witness Nadira getting killed, a girl that was full of anger and revenge, just like she once was. I am kind of disappointed with Faith’s story this season, because it actually hasn’t developed any. Since #1 she wanted to protect and guide the girls, but she didn’t because she was following, blindly I can say, Angel. And the reason I say blindly is because most of Angel’s plan was a secret which he wasn’t willing to share. Although it was vital for Giles’s soul, as proved, and he should have informed everyone who was close to Giles, about what happened to him and his soul.
Alasdair, Giles and the aunts don’t get much space in this issue. Nadira on the other hand gets a death she didn’t deserve. And unfortunately one I had predicted months now, and I was 100% certain about it last month. Lucky for Angel, he won’t have to deal with her. And lucky for the writing team as well I guess. Unlucky for us, because the way she died, it feels like we don’t care about her which is unfortunate, since she was the best new character added in all of S9′s titles. Right now I can’t see the reason why she was added in this season, only to die like that. Unless we’ll see something on Faith, in the following two issues, something that develops Faith’s character because of Nadira’s death. If not, that was a total hit and miss, and no point to exist at all, really.
About the art I don’t have to comment on anything, really. Rebekah is again at her best. She actually should consider some lecturing about “how to draw fight scenes that don’t look ridiculous and don’t make your readers want to cry for the money they’ve wasted”. I can name at least one “artist” who should take her course to benefit a little bit. I hope she stays for S10, I really hope, I can’t imagine the Buffyverse without her pencils. She rocks.
As a conclusion. It was an issue full of fighting, as expected. I think it can be excused, if the next two don’t dedicate only on fighting. You can enjoy reading it, but only if you forget all about S8. The minute you start thinking about it, that’s the minute that the story and what the characters say don’t make any sense. That’s what I do, I erase last season every time I read A&F and I enjoy it. My only problem was Nadira’s death, too much predictable and cliché. I hope I will be proven wrong and Whistler won’t be the second one dying, as I’ve already predicted again some months ago. Although I can’t see any other way that this story could end, Whistler really can’t stay alive after the end of A&F. And I really cross my fingers here, because the thing worse than that would be a total reset of the Buffyverse, which will totally make me give up on any title coming up next season.