Here’s a quick summary of Issue #1:
We begin with an appearance of our old friend, Giles. In a flashback from Giles’ Watcher’s Files, we see him helping a woman in London whose daughter is demon-possessed. Giles is unable to repel the beast but performs a spell that binds the beast harmlessly within the young girl. What Giles doesn’t mention is that the spell required a sacrifice: the memory of one of the best days of his life. As the entry closes, Giles describes that the purpose of the Watcher’s Files is to provide the resources for someone to take up the torch when he is gone.
Flash to current day, where Angel and Faith are now battling the same demon from the flashback. Still inside the same little girl, the demon has the upper hand until Angel bites the young girl. The demon, thinking Angel is killing its host, flees the girl, providing an opening for the slayer and vampire to move in for the kill. When they kill the demon, it releases the memory that Giles lost in order to bind the monster. In a rush, Angel experiences the memory and realizes it was the day that Giles and Jenny fell in love.
Later, Faith checks in with a few London-based slayers she knows and hears about some new baddies named Pearl and Nash who used to work for Twilight. Meanwhile, Angel’s former mentor, Whistler, happens to be meeting with Pearl and Nash at that same moment, saying he needs someone to finish what Angel started with Twilight… and he thinks that they’re perfect for the job. As if enough darkness wasn’t creeping in already, Angel ends the issue by informing Faith that he plans to bring Giles back to life!
– The focus on the connection between Giles and Angel! While Christos Gage did a fantastic job writing every character, he really crafted an issue that’s incredibly character driven and highlights the connections between the dead watcher and the vampire who killed him. The obvious connections are there, Angel’s hand in the deaths of Giles and Jenny, but there are also the feelings that Giles and Angel have more in common than the blood on Angel’s hands. As I read through this issue, I couldn’t help but think how both are good men struggling with a dark past, both have held positions of leadership and guidance to their friends, and both have done things they know were morally wrong because they felt it was for the betterment of the rest of the world. Also, with Faith, Angel, and the haunting memory of Giles headlining the series, we can be sure that, much like this first issue, the rest of Angel & Faith will be a tale of redemption worthy of the vampire cursed with a soul.
– The return of Whistler! I love Whistler and I think he was sorely absent from the Angel TV series. His appearance in Jane Espenson’s Riley one-shot during Season Eight was very welcome and even brought some weight to Angel’s decision to become Twilight. Whistler was one of the few characters that could convince our hero that such a path was necessary. While it is very interesting to see Whistler playing the other side as he tries to enlist Pearl and Nash to finish the job Twilight started, it does seem slightly out of character. Whistler has been referred to as a “demon who keeps the balance between good and evil,” but he’s always seemed to be rooting for the good guys. Hopefully, this will get further explained later in the series, as we find out more about Whistler’s involvement in Twilight, and if the Powers That Be are still backing him.
– Angel’s back (+ Faith)! Just had to note how cool it is to have both these characters back and feeling like the tortured and @#$%ed up individuals we know and love! This is so 5×5!
– Bringing Giles back to life? While I’m pretty sure that Giles won’t actually be resurrected, this seems like an odd move for the vampire. One reason I feel strongly about this is that we’ve had a similar situation when Buffy’s mother died. In the Buffy episode “Forever,” we see Angel comfort Buffy about the death of her mother while Spike ends up helping Dawn attempt to bring her mother back to life with a spell. It ends badly with Joyce coming back slightly off and Dawn breaking the spell. It just seems clear to me that Angel understands darkness and magic enough to have the same reaction to this idea that Willow does when Dawn first brings it up: nothing good can come of this. Spike, on the other hand, seems like the sort of loose-cannon who’d make an attempt at a resurrection spell. Maybe Angel is now in such a low place that hope has got the better of him? I’m not sure I’m convinced of that yet, but I think Gage still has time to provide the sense behind Angel’s decision. Still, it is something I hope gets addressed.
Fan reaction has been extremely positive for this issue, with numerous web sites giving it a rave review including IGN, Multiversity Comics, Comic Vine, Buffyfest, and CBR. Readers seem really happy with the new creative team and perfect tone of the book. I’d have to say Dark Horse done good on this one!
– The Angel: After The Fall confusion! Angel makes mention of his time in the Hell-version of Los Angeles in this issue, and a few readers, myself included, were thrown off when Angel mentioned that only he and his team remembered being there. Luckily, the Whedonesque.com boards were there in a pinch. While all of the citizens of Los Angeles did initially remember the events in Hell, as time went on the memories began to fade, until all that was left was that crappy Nic Cage movie. Keep your eyes peeled for copies of Last Angel In Hell in the five-dollar-DVD-bin at Target!
– Angel vs. The Justice League? I just wanted to give a shout out to the website Buffyfest and their excellent review of Angel & Faith #1! This specific quote from the review warmed my geeky little heart: “[Angel & Faith #1] that it easily outshines DC’s huge new 52 event happening today. Or, it should.”
You hear that, Scoobies? One vampire with a soul > Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, etc.
Angel & Faith will be back the last week in September. Be sure to check out Season Nine’s Buffy #1, which will be in stores on September 14th, the same day as the latest issue of Andrew Chambliss’ other Whedon comic series, Dollhouse: Epitaphs.
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer