Angel & Faith #1
Written By: Christos Gage
Illustrated By: Rebekah Isaacs
Left in a near-catatonic state following the events in Buffy Season 8, Angel will need a seriously rude awakening if he’s to make amends for his ill-conceived deeds. Enter rebel Slayer with a cause–Faith Lehane. Together they’ll have full access to the Watcher files and opportunities to make amends for all they’ve done . . . and will do.
Here we are! Joss Whedon and his cult favorite band of demon hunters are coming back, but without two of their most popular members, Buffy’s ex-boyfriend Angel and her one-time nemesis and current friend Faith Lehane, the rogue Vampire Slayer. Considering what’s happened in the past season of Buffy, it seemed natural to move them to their own title and continue their adventures there. And as a bonus, they brought fan-favorite Christos Gage and self-described Buffy fan Rebekah Isaacs as the creative team to boot! Beyond the cut you’ll see my feelings on the book.
For starters, when I heard Gage was writing, I was excited because I had enjoyed his work over in Marvel, but might have felt a little bit of trepidation because of the quality the franchise has taken in the previous season, maybe the magic was gone. It meandered until the end, and unsatisfyingly at that. But with the combined efforts of him and Rebekah Isaacs, I was placated.
It starts out not with the eponymous characters, but the character whose death brought about Angel’s casting out from the Buffy Squad, and the reason Faith went “home” to England, but with everyone’s favorite ripper, Rupert Giles. That’s right; it’s a flashback to before his untimely demise at the hands of Angel (as Twilight). After his short vignette, we cut to our heroes taking on the same task he was up against in the flashback, and one that Angel manages to conquer, but at a price.
There lies the genius of the issue. In half an issue, Gage laid down the motivations of the characters and by the second act of the book, we had a clear idea of who the big bad are and how they are related to the story we already know and the characters in particular. Angel, a character who is defined by his struggle to wash the blood on his hands, becomes even more tragic when you find out what a seemingly inconsequential demon exorcism had done to him, and the repercussions of the altruistic act that will haunt him forever.
Any doubts any fan might have had with Christos Gage can be assuaged because, if he was somehow not a fan, he certainly did his research and learned about the mythology in the Buffy universe, evidenced by the appearance of a minor character in the franchise, with a clear link to Angel. He seems to know the characters and how they work, including their inflections and patterns of speech in their dialogue, including Faith’s penchant for using nicknames. The one thing missing: “Five by five.”
But while Gage told a very fine issue, Isaacs’ contributions cannot go unnoticed. From the recognizable faces who all look different from one another to the kinetic sense of urgency that explodes off of the page in the action scenes; and the mood that speaks without words when the characters are just talking to one another, it all just looks amazing. But my favorite part in particular seems to be the immense detail put into the panels and pages. You can make out faces in the background characters which gives an ambiance that doesn’t get utilized nearly enough in the medium anymore. The English flavor (flavour?) can be read just as much from the art as it can from the words on the page, which is speaks to the cooperation and chemistry of the creative team.
And the chemistry is there in spades. Gage clearly trusts his artist and gives her the chance to show off her talent by giving her storytelling duties of her own, leading to a richer visual experience that is missed. Sure you could TELL us what they were doing, but in the case of an action scene being recounted, less is more; and seeing is believing.Continued below
If there is one thing that I felt wasn’t handled the best it could have; it was the false endings. The last three pages, while important to the story, did something I feel wasn’t intended, and that’s burying the lead that was revealed just a few pages earlier. When you learn about these new villains and the twist that goes with their motivations, it’s a really good moment, but is nearly forgotten when Angel drops a bombshell.
I’m glad I kept the faith, so to speak, because while the book isn’t perfect, it set up what could be an epic yarn that fits neatly alongside Season Nine and brings the luster back to the vaunted franchise. If you’re a fan of Angel, Faith or the universe in general, this will be a worthy addition to your book shelf or long box. Check it out.
Final Verdict: 8.0 — Buy