While Angel is off dealing with Old Ones, demon lords, and Spike actually dating Buffy over in Buffy Season Ten, Angel and Faith Season Ten #16 focuses on Faith, Fred, and Magic Town’s (An area of London where demons and various magic and “special” folk live) top cop Brandt’s more “low key” work. Victor Gischler writes Faith as both wistful and sassy as she moves out of the apartment she and Giles used to share and starts to investigate some mysterious killings at a prep school. She and Fred have a nice buddy dynamic, but Cliff Richards draws their faces in a similar manner and it is hard to tell them apart. Richards’ combination of hyper detailed figures and less detailed backgrounds give the art a static feel, and there isn’t much in the way of facial expressions even if his anatomy and monster designs are on point.
The plot of Angel and Faith #16 is average at best, and it lacks the urgency or relationship drama of recent Buffy Season Ten issues. In fact, it reads like a police procedural with a supernatural bent and some well-worn high school cliches. The St. Cuthbert Prep students who show up in this issue are extremely one-dimensional. The girls are mean and wear short skirts, the boys are horny, and there’s one girl, who is considered freakish for no obvious reason and gets to be the center of a mystery plot. Maybe, they dislike her because she is ginger.
As far as characterization, Victor Gischler does a better job showing Faith’s uneasiness in fitting in as a unofficial sheriff of Magic Town during Angel’s absence. Cliff Richards uses space in his panels to show the awkwardness between Brandt and Faith as he keeps mentioning Angel when discussing the possible vampire problem. However, Gischler and Richards give him a mini-arc as he slowly becomes closer to both Faith and Fred. Michelle Madsen’s colors become warmer as their Fred/Faith/Brandt starts to build chemistry and the banter becomes cheerier.
The idea of Faith, who was one of the only major Scoobies not to attend or teach at Sunnydale High, returning to high school in any kind of capacity opens a whole host of humorous and dramatic opportunities. But Gischler and Richards barely scratch the surface of this new setting beyond a couple of “too old for you” jokes from Faith and Fred and some sly mythology gags for long term Buffy and Angel fan and the high school cliches I mentioned earlier. At least, Richards’ nails prep school fashions.
Angel and Faith #16 is full of potential with its new setting, status quo, and the relationship between Faith and Fred. There is also their connection to Archaeus, Season Ten’s Big Bad. Unfortunately, Gischler and Richards spend the majority of an issue on high school and procedural cliches, and it falls short of its potential and has some art hiccups in its portrayal of certain characters. It seems like Richards and Madsen are trying too hard to replicate the look of the characters in the TV show.