Here’s a quick summary of Issue #2:
This issue opens with Faith helping out some London-based slayers she’s friends with on their late-night patrol rounds. Despite Faith’s efforts, a demon escapes with a briefcase of money, leaving behind the merchandise it bought: another briefcase containing a shattered vial of green, glowing liquid.
Later, Faith meets up with Angel to discuss what an awful idea it is to bring Giles back to life. Angel explains that he’s though this through, and, even though there’s no magic left and Giles didn’t die a mystical death, Angel believes the Watcher’s Files will provide the key to bring him back. Faith, realizing this is all that Angel has to keep him going, agrees to assist him, despite her misgivings.
Angel and Faith end up tracking one of Angel’s demon contacts to a Mohra demon blood-selling operation. Mohra demon blood was the green liquid in the vial Faith found earlier, and the demon that escaped her is working the operation. Angel explains his experiences with Mohra blood and how it turned him human. It’s Angel’s belief that Mohra blood can resurrect Giles’ physical body, and then the only concern will be restoring Giles’ soul.
Faith helps Angel bust into the Mohra blood operation and take out the demons, but the whole time she can’t stop thinking about how Angel’s plan is never going to work. She recalls a discussion she had with Giles regarding resurrecting some of her own victims in order to relieve her guilt. Giles told her there were no records of a human being resurrected from a natural death. In regards to her mistakes, Giles tells her, “…we can try to atone for them. Not to erase what we did. Not to justify the unjustifiable. But to counter the evil we’ve done with a lifetime of good.” This is the lesson Angel must relearn.
The book ends with our baddies, Pearl and Nash, finding the demon that Angel and Faith tracked to the Mohra blood operation and demanding to be taken to the source of the goods.
Angel and Faith continue to be the perfect pair. Putting these two together continues to be one of the best decisions in Whedonverse history! It almost convinces me that it would have happened on the show had Angel not been cancelled and had Eliza Dusku been game. Given the focus on redemption, both these characters and their common history seem right at home in Gage’s script. The roles have reversed a bit, with Faith helping guide the damaged Angel this time around, but this is only made more poignant by Faith’s conflicted inner feelings. Despite her loyalty to Angel and her willingness to help him to keep him out of his comatose state, she knows that, in the end, they can’t bring the watcher back. Sooner or later, Angel with have to deal with this bitter fact. So, what’s to come for our soulful hero? My belief is that, by the end of this arc, Angel will be forced to accept that the only way he can bring Giles “back” is to step into his role and bare the sacrifice Rupert Giles once carried. The Watcher’s Files are an instruction manual on how to do this, and it will only be so long before the vampire realizes this. Finally, some may be worried that Angel and Faith will end up doing the nasty (Personally, I’m not. It could easily work for both characters, if written well, and Gage seems like the man for the job!), but, in this issue, when Faith says, “Wipe that grin off your face. It’s not like I’m gonna bone you,” I think she’s saying that to us, Scoobies, as much as to her blood-drinking partner.
Christos Gage knows his Whedon-lore! I love a writer who knows his Whedon-lore, because it makes their contributions to the story so much richer! When a writer can effortlessly work in a reference to a prior episode or craft an appearance from characters previously seen in the series, it just makes the world these characters live in seem that much more real, complex, and connected. Well, Scoobies, Christos Gage is the very essence of this type of writer. Last issue, I worried about Angel’s decision to bring Giles back, given his previous experiences with magic and regretful deaths. It seemed too simplistic for Angel… and it was. Gage immediately has Faith and Angel dive into debate regarding how and if Giles could be brought back and, with expert grace, hits every possible question that this fanboy would think to bring up! Not satisfied to be a one-trick pony, Gage then also maneuvers well written nods to Angel’s encounter with a Mohra demon, and how it turned him human, and Faith’s guilt over her human victims from Buffy: Season 3, Deputy Mayor Alan Finch and Professor Worth. With writing like this, I’m desperate to see what comes next and confident that Joss and Dark Horse picked the right writer to help make the Buffy/Angel expanded universe actually feel as big and connected as it should be!
So, the murder of Giles is the worst thing that Angel’s ever done? That’s debatable. This is a minor, minor complaint. In her voice over, Faith mentions that Angel is trying to make up for the worst thing he’s ever done by bringing Giles back. While this could easily be the opinion of Faith, or even just an off-hand thought, it struck me as false. Giles’ murder may be painful to fans, but, in reality, Angel has done much worse in his history. Drusilla comes to mind…
The Ugly (Fan Buzz, that is…)
Much like the first issue, fan reaction has been extremely positive for this issue, with positive reviews coming from ComicBuzz, Buffyfest, and CBR, as well as other sites. In a really positive sign, a number of reviewers who disliked Season 8 have commented how this title is bringing their interest back to these characters!
Professor Worth got lucky once! One sharp observer at Whedonesque mentioned how they felt it was unlikely, but not impossible, that Professor Worth had a daughter. Worth explained to Faith, right before she sticks him, that he’s been a life-long bachelor, because he likes his space. Maybe it’s a small misstep by Gage, but it could still be believed.
Will Giles return, young and evil? There were also a few interesting theories flying around regarding Giles’ resurrection over at Whedonesque. One suggestion was that, given that Angel’s plan is a two-parter, focusing on restoring Giles’ body first and soul second, Giles may be brought back, sans-soul, and become a new enemy to our heroes. It was also suggested that, perhaps, the rumored baddie who popped up for a panel of the last issue of Buffy: Season 8 could be our first peek at a young, soulless Giles. As if Buffy didn’t hate Angel enough at this point…
All in all, Angel & Faith #2 is superb, and I can’t wait to see what Gage, Isaacs, and Whedon have in store for us next month!
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer