Immediately upon opening this book, it’s clear this is a Buffyverse comic unlike any we’ve seen in some time. Aesthetically, the debut issue of Angel & Faith‘s second series may even seem a little jarring at first, being so different from Rebekah Isaacs’ work on the previous volume. Will Conrad’s textured illustrations and noir/thriller-esque scene compositions as well as Michelle Madsen’s dark colour palette bring forth a return to Angel’s TV series roots, as well as IDW comic run. This looks radically different than any other Buffyverse comic published by Dark Horse in the last seven years, and its darkness could become a beacon of light this season. This issue looks most alive during its nighttime scenes, with Angel walking through Magic Town’s elaborate sewer tunnels, with page 13 being a highlight. It’s a conceptually simple page, with five panels depicting what is essentially just “Angel walking”, but each from a different angle and perspective. Angel himself is a mere fixture of these long halls, being chased by his shadow and venturing further into the black of night; Angel is a creature of darkness, and never looks more at home than in pages such as these.
Angel and Faith successfully resurrected Rupert Giles last season, while also saving the world in the process, from Whistler, Pearl and Nash. There were repercussions, however; a small section of London had to be sacrificed, being the site of a nuclear bomb-like magic fallout, with magic transforming the community and its inhabitants. Many humans have now become magical creatures, some with awesome and deadly powers, and unsure of how to control them. Once again looking to clean up his own mess, Angel takes to the streets, helping the helpless and trying to undo his mistakes.
Angel and Faith’s common ground last season brought them together, but now their future as a team is looking uncertain. This issue, Faith accompanies Kennedy and her troops, and Giles, back to America so they can reunite Giles with the Scoobies. In a heart breaking reversal of Buffy Season 10 #1’s tear jerking reunion of Buffy and Giles, one page here recreates the same emotional moment, only now from Faith’s perspective, giving it an entirely new depth. Giles became very much the father figure to Faith during Season 8 that he was to Buffy from seasons 1-7, in that year actually growing closer to Faith than he was to Buffy. And even though it was Faith who plays a large role in bringing Giles back to life, she finds herself losing Giles yet again, this time to his preferred Slayer.
Faith accepts an invitation from Kennedy to join her Slayers-as-bodyguards company, which should logically keep her away from any dealings with the Scoobies and Angel, but of course, things are never that simple. As the comic is called Angel & Faith, it should be inevitable that the two will be working together side by side soon enough.
Victor Gischler previously wrote the Spike miniseries for Season 9, which was one of the less interesting Season 9 efforts. It was a filler story, and Gischler struggled to capture Spike’s voice. Angel and Faith seem to be more up his speed. This is a more satisfying read than any of the five Spike issues, and is a promising debut for what might become a strong entry in the Buffycomicsverse.
– Trevor Dobbin