The end is beginning, Scoobies. With this week’s release of the final issue of Angel & Faith, writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs perfectly close their brilliant, and arguably flawless, season in the sequential art Buffy-verse. Much like the series itself, Angel & Faith #25 is full of epic conflict, heartrending pathos, and a message about the continuing quest for redemption.
Here’s a quick summary of Issue #25:
This issue opens with Angel and Whistler battling in the streets of London as the demonic plague begins to take root around them, mutating the innocent citizens into various demonic creatures. Convinced that Whistler is acting irrationally due to the demon’s personal “need” to bring magic back into the world, Angel exposes him to the concentrated magic causing the plague. Once Whistler’s cravings subside, he shifts back into his human form and begins to witness the horrors he caused around him in a very different light. Angel explains that this is why he had to rebel against Twilight. The cost was too great.
Finally realizing what he has done, Whistler grabs the mystical plague bomb, running away from the others and using his body and his powers to squelch the explosion. Angel runs to his dying mentor and cradles the horribly burned Whistler in his arms, asking what he can do. Whistler says that Angel’s already done it. He saved Whistler from himself. Whistler manages to get out some final words to Angel before the life leaves his body for good. Angel pauses for a single moment and then stands, saying, “People need help. Let’s do what we can.” And, with that, Angel, Faith, Alasdair, and Giles move into action.
Hours later, the situation is finally being sorted out. Many citizens still have demonic mutations (centaurs, gorgons, fairy wings, etc.) but are being instructed how to deal with their new conditions. Nadira is revealed to have survived her severe burns but has been infected by the plague as well and is changing in some way that only time will tell.
Speaking of survivors, our heroes can find no sign of Pearl ,and somewhere else in London, we see Pearl’s hand emerge from the river she fell into.
This issue wraps up with Faith revealing to Angel that she’s moving on from working with Angel. She’s happy she helped him with his mission to bring back Giles, but she’s being offered a training position by Kennedy’s slayer-employing company and has decided to take it. The friends say goodbye, ending on good terms. Giles asks if he can catch a ride with Faith and be dropped off to reconnect with Buffy and the other Scoobies, and the slayer begrudgingly agrees. Angel asks Giles to let him know when (or if) he should try to see Buffy at some point, and Giles asks the vampire what he’ll do in the meantime. Angel says he plans to focus on the small stuff. People are already calling the plague-effected area of London “Magic Town,” and Angel believes hanging nearby would be a good idea. In the end, he believes we all need the same thing, “someone looking out for us.”
Isaacs excels at drawing horribly burned individuals. She’s been nailing everything Gage has thrown at her for the entire twenty-five issue run, but Rebekah Isaacs seems to have a special talent from depicting those that have been horribly burned. With both Nadira and Whistler, I actually winced the first time I turned the page and saw the physical effects of their injuries. Ouch!
The death of Whistler. This scene was just huge and everything that it needed to be. I don’t know if it was Whedon or Gage’s call to make Whistler the big bad of Angel & Faith, but it worked perfectly. This final scene between these two characters was so powerful, so touching, and incredibly graceful. It’s a moment between mentor and student that would make Obi-Wan and Anakin jealous, and, honestly, it literally brought me to tears. Once again, kudos to Gage and Isaacs for not only a fantastic issue, but a fantastic series in entirety.
They did it . . . They fixed Twilight. The other amazing accomplishment that Gage accomplished with his writing and the character of Whistler was the daunting task of legitimizing the Twlight plot line in Buffy: Season 8. Personally, I believe that Gage’s examination throughout Angel & Faith of the goal of Twilight and how Angel was convinced to participate added the necessary depth to the issue and explained the unanswered questions that were present after the finale of Buffy: Season 8. Even if some readers may still take issue with some of the rough edges of the Twilight plot line, for me, my feelings for Angel & Faith are very akin to my feelings for Genndy Tartakovsky’s animated Clone Wars series in relation to the Star Wars prequels. I am more than willing to accept the less-than-perfect, fan-lamented “chapter” of the story in order to get to the brilliant storytelling that follows. All-in-all, Gage and Isaacs did more than just fix the problem of the Twilight plot line, they’ve potentially done something that makes me tremble with excitement to just try and say it. I mean, is it possible that best season of Angel never aired on television? Is it possible that the best season of Angel ever is, in fact, a comic book?
Nadira. What a bada– little slayer and a great addition to the Buffy-verse! Sure, she had some tough lessons to learn, but she survived the experience and who knows what’s down the road for her. We know one thing for sure . . . she isn’t a quitter in any fashion.
Dan Jackson’s rockin’ colors. When colors are amazing, they often get overlooked. I’d be horribly remiss to not acknowledge how awesome the colors have been in this series and this issue, in particular. The electric blue of Whistler’s demonic power, the vibrant color of the blood pouring down Angel’s face, the horrible mishmash of colors that make up the charred skin of those who’ve been severely burned, it all is done with excellent skill and passion. Nice work, sir!
This is the end . . . for now. You saw what happened when Whistler needed a fix . . . just imagine what happens when mine starts to kick in.
The Ugly (Fan Buzz, that is . . . )
Fan reaction for this issue is almost unanimously positive, and many seem to feel the series ended on a high note that it maintained during a majority of the run. The book got good reviews from Unleash The Fanboy, Comics: The Gathering, and at least one negative review coming from Light_Watcher.
What will happen in Season 10? There was a lot of speculation over where certain characters would end up next season. The most agreed upon outcome seems to be that Faith may get her own title (or perhaps share a title with Spike) while Angel will remain in London (specifically the “Magic Town” section) and possibly work witha supporting cast of Lavinia, Sophronia, Alasdair, and Nadira. There also seems to be plenty of reason to expect Pearl to reappear and wreck havoc in Angel’s book at some point. As for kid Giles, many expect he will join the main Buffy: Season 10 title. There were also several mentions by fans hoping that Gage and Isaacs will stick together for another Buffy-verse title.
Kid Giles’ insensitivity!!! Many readers took issue with Giles’ coarse way of informing Faith that his life was best when it was with Buffy, but some chalked it up to the effects of being influenced by his new, immature form.
FINAL SCORE: 5 Ensouled Vampire Champions out of 5
That’s all for a while, Scoobies! Until Season 10 starts, maybe we can listen to Angel’s words from this issue:
“People need help. Let’s do what we can.”
I know my fellow Whedon fans are known for their kind hearts and devotion to charity. Let’s get to work, Scoobies.
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer
f you’re craving more goodies from the Whedon comic-verse to feed you addiction, then don’t miss my “Comic Patrol” posts every Friday at www.whedonopolis.com! “Comic Patrol” is a regular weekly feature pointing out articles, previews, and tidbits relating to the Whedon comic-verse and it’s hosted by your friendly neighborhood Comic Book Slayer! I’ll see you there, comic book sniffers!