Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Angel and Faith will need all the help they can get when it comes to stopping this season’s ubervillains from unleashing a magic-fueled plague on the earth. Enter an archmage, a former Watcher, and two socialites who’ve dabbled in magic . . . Will it be enough?
* Final Arc!
* Battle to the death!
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!
And here we are, just one issue before “…the end. For someone, anyway” to quote the editor, Scott Allie. Because we all know who the other someone is, although we were kind of fooled and she actually dies in this issue, not the previous one. You’ve all guessed by now who that person is.
It’s an issue that has a lot of fight. Almost all of it. But it didn’t get me bored, although fighting scenes that take most of the comic pages are not my thing. It’s because things actually happen, but mostly because of the amazing art drawn by Rebekah Isaaks. What an artist!
But let’s get back to the story. In this season of A&F, we’ve been introduced to 7 new key characters. The aunts, Alasdair, Nadira, Pearl, Nash and Whistler. I am counting Whistler in those, because it’s the first time that we’ve got some background story for that character. He wasn’t so important in BtVS, and the only people that have ever given so much attention to his character are the tralalalaland Bangels. Angel didn’t mention Whistler, not even once, in his own show (maybe the very first episode, but I don’t think). So, why am I saying all that? Because I feel for them. All of them, one way or another. I just love the aunts, and after this issue I love them even more. I like Alasdair, I just detest the evil twins, feel so sorry for Nadira, and that Whistler totally disgusts me. And this is the way on how to introduce new characters in a story and make your readership feel for them. Unlike Buffy’s title and characters like Billy, Koh, the police officer (whose name I have totally forgotten, seriously!) that every time I see them in any panel, I just want to cry for the money I’ve wasted. Maybe it’s because this title has a writer who writes comics for a living, and not when he’s not busy writing TV scripts or producing TV shows, like the writers from Buffy’s title.
Not that I don’t have any problem with the way this book is written. And as a Spike fan, I hate the way that his character was misused in A&f #19-20. I will quote Vampmogs here, and a post he’s written in Buffyforum.net about A%F #22
One the one hand I found Giles’ resurrection very underwhelming in comparison to how Buffy’s was explored in Bargaining. Of course I wouldn’t want an exact replay of what happened in S6 but that episode really gave gravitas to the magnitude of what Buffy had just went through (dying is no easy thing) and seeing her traumatised and walking the streets of Sunnydale was very effective. In episodes like Flooded we were still seeing signs that Buffy had yet to fully readjust (staring into the running tap etc) and of course she spent all of S6 coming to terms with her trauma and the repercussions of being back. Here, Giles may be in a younger body but he’s amazingly coherent for a guy who had been dead for months. And that, combined with the humorous tone of the issue, left me feeling pretty deflated all things considered. I do respect that Buffy and Giles’ situations were pretty different as Giles seems to have been conscious in Angel’s mind for quite some time and didn’t wake up in his own grave living out one of his worst fears ( “What are you afraid of, Slayer? How about being buried alive?” Nightmares) but this issue really could have benefited from slowing down the pace and focusing solely on Giles’ resurrection. Having it placed on the backburner because the characters have an apocalypse to deal with, again, makes logical sense, but I wish Gage had structured the season differently to allow adequate exploration of what had just happened. It all feels way too easy which it really shouldn’t have as it took 22 issues to get here. In S6 Joss spoke about having to “earn” Buffy’s resurrection and I think they really did given the significant fallout from it all and the lengths it took to bring Buffy back (Willow slaying the deer and having to endure torture etc). However, whilst Gage did spend adequate time building up to the resurrection (we can gripe about the plot contrivances in a supposedly magicless world but at least it took the characters all season to be able to perform the spell) so far the fallout has been underwhelming, to say the least. It also didn’t help that the first words out of Giles’ mouth were “Yes, yes. You’ve resurrected me. Huzzah’s all round” which made a mockery of the whole thing. Talk about taking the punch out of your own story.
But still, despite the problems, we have a story that has been planned very well from the beginning, and the minute you just ignore S8 you can start enjoying the story. Now, let’s go back to the issue itself.
Unfortunately, here in a magicless world we get another Deux ex machina, some ruby stones that protect the characters from the magical virus. Please bring back magic, because Angel has already used more magic in a world without magic than he used in his own show. There is also a flashback panel of the aunts, learning a little bit more about their story, and what they’ll try to do afterwards just make them adorable. On the other hand, you’ll become even more sick of Pearl and Nash, as they watch and enjoy the monsters they’ve created (humans becoming all kind of monsters, incredible drawing from Isaaks, really). And even more sick of Whistler, who watches everything as Angel tries to get him to his senses, and we find out that Whistler was also responsible about Hirossima. He justifies it by saying that an invasion would have cost more souls than that. I know it’s a real historical event added in a fictional story, but still it makes me sick when I think of it. Especially considering that Whister’s visions are not 100% accurate. He didn’t see Angel losing his soul back in S2 of BtVS, and he certainly didn’t predict the outcome of S8, Buffy denying Twilight!paradise and breaking the seed to save the world.
We also have Nadira’s heroic death which seems that will move forward Faith’s story next season. Alasdair and Giles trying to find a way to stop the madness, leaving us wondering which one of them is not going to make it in the following issue, and Angel who tries to change Whistler’s mind, reminding him and us, twice, that Buffy was the one who made him change his mind last season, when she showed him what would happen to humanity if they had decided to stay in paradise.
So, that was it, leaving us wondering how Angel is going to stop Whistler, and who’s going to die. My prediction is not on Alasdair or Giles, I still think that Whistler will die. Probably Angel will bite him, I don’t know! But I don’t think that such a character deserves to see another season. And since all the clues are leaving us wondering if Giles or Alasdair will die, my bets are still on Whistler. Christos Gage’s story has been a little bit predictable for me this season. I hope he’ll prove me wrong and that he’ll give me an end I don’t expect to read.
Oh, and again, really, what an amazing artist Rebekah Isaaks is! You’ll be amazed, really, like I have! I hope she’ll continue drawing for the Buffyverse next season!
So, a very good issue. Just forget what happened in S8 and enjoy the story that Christos has written. That’s what I have been doing, and it’s working for me. Can’t wait to read the end.