5 Reasons to Read Angel & Faith, in celebration of its series finale.

by Tori B. on August 27, 2013

With Angel and Faith coming to its final issue tomorrow (August 28th, 2013), here’s an overall look at the series, celebrating everything it did well on and what made it such a good series.

5.  It does the Buffyverse justice.

For any fan of Joss Whedon and the entire world that he’s created along with the rest of the creative team who helped him build the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel & Faith remains true to the world, the characters, and breathes the same life that the television show did. There’s a lot of throwbacks to the television series, comments made here and there about past events, and while they do help in the understanding of conversation and how it relates within context, it’s not completely hindering. Angel & Faith takes place within the season 9 continuity of the Buffy comics, taking place after season 8 events, but there’s enough flashbacks and discussions of the past that a newer reader could pick up Angel & Faith as a solo series with maybe some minor wiki-ing just to get a better handle of events. To be honest season 8 was kind of crazy and there are some things that have happened within the comic that may have lost sight at what made the TV series so great, but as stated, Angel & Faith held onto that. And then for those fans of the show and are completely caught up on the canon, there are slips in conversation that allude to certain events that both happened on the Buffy series as well as Angel the Series.
The Buffy nerd in me got a kick out of every reference understood, despite the years it’s been since I’ve watched the show, I still remember everything, which is a huge testament to such a fantastic culture built around a young teenage girl and her destiny to save the world (and the vampire with a soul that she was doomed to fall in love with).
Plus there is a myriad of guest appearances made by some of everyone’s favourite characters including Connor, Gunn, Harmony, Spike, and Willow. It’s not just about Angel and Faith.

4. The pacing is incredibly well done.

Every issue has something exciting happening in it, and each issue holds it’s arc cohesively. One arc almost feels like a regular episode of Buffy (or Angel the Series is probably more fitting), some potentially breaking into a two-part episode. But the flow of the story fits altogether and holds nicely. No issue feels like filler or honestly drags on for the sake of filling pages. There’s always so much story to work with that something is always happening and never once does it seem boring or like a read that requires effort to get to the good stuff. There’s always action—Faith’s a slayer and she has responsibilities to other slayers, it’s in their blood to not go a day without wreaking some havoc, but like any episode of Buffy you still get that scene where everyone’s gathered to make a plan that they never really successfully follow, but not for lack of trying. Instead of being in a library, it’s often in Faith’s (formerly Giles’ house), which feels just as natural as any old Sunnydale library, shelves filled with mystical artifacts.  It feels like watching a regular episode if you’re a fan, or just a well paced comic if that’s more your boat.

3. There’s new characters to love too. And maybe some old characters that have new facets that you can’t help but fall in love with.

Alasdair Coames fills as the Watcher figure that everyone needs. He’s no Giles but Alasdair still instills the sense of wisdom that any old magics user does. He offers sounds advice almost as Giles would—without the dry wit, and can be counted on for magic, even in a world that no longer has magic.
Then we get a slew of varying Giles’ whether it be through a flashback, and it’s always fascinating to catch a glimpse of Giles in his Ripper days, but by far the best version of Giles we get as a direct result of the series is the young twelve year old Giles who still very much has the soul of the old Giles, memories and all, but he’s just stuck in his younger body and unfortunately (but to a reader’s amusement) has to deal with his younger hormones as well.

But by far two of the best characters to come out of Angel & Faith are Giles’ two great Aunts, Lavinia and Sophie Fairweather, two century-old women who have used their magics primarily to preserve their youth and beauty and are simply delights of characters. Yes, they’re fairly two-dimensional but that doesn’t stop them from being great characters. They’re funny (clearly dry wit runs in the family) and powerful, and ever so loving of their great nephew. Their class attitudes are polar opposite of everything Angel & Faith are and for a series which main message is about balance, that’s exactly what they do, to bring some brightness into the angst that both Angel and Faith can bring. It’s no wonder Giles loves them, even if reluctant to admit it.



2. The plot.

There are points during Buffy Season 8 that just left me confused as to what was happening but Christos Gage, clearly had a plan when he wrote Angel & Faith and it worked. He has a clear understanding of the characters and their motivations and how it plays into his plot. Angel & Faith is based simple enough around the idea of bringing Giles back from the dead and it’s a plot device used to take the two heroes through the entire 25 issue series—or most of it, we see Giles close enough to the end, it counts. But there are levels to Giles resurrection that take Angel and Faith into different directions. That’s how a good story works. There are mini adventures, but they all tie into a bigger picture. That thread that holds the series together, makes the ending that much sweeter. But each arc holds on it’s own too. Sure, the end result of each arc brings us closer to the final act of Giles’ resurrection but everything else that happens, holds on its own too, there’s demon fighting, flashbacks of the far away past, visits to other dimensions, and essentially anything else you’d expect from this universe. But it doesn’t fall flat on old tricks either, as mentioned, Gage has a feel for these characters and fleshes them even more than they already were. A big one comes for Faith who has matured immensely from the wild teen we saw back in early seasons. Angel tends not to change too much, but other characters who have come in are different too. The biggest and best though is Harmony. It’s hard not to like Harmony and while she’s also not the girl we once knew from Sunnydale, she still very much is and it’s great to still be able to recognize a character despite how different they are at the same time. She’s grown up a lot too. In fact, they all have, and it works for the better and doesn’t feel disjointed at all.

1. There is some really nice art here.

Rebekah Isaacs is the main artist throughout the series and she does a fantastic job. The character work is top notch and I was able to identify every already existing character by first glance without even needing a name to be mentioned. Each character has their defining quality and she manages to capture it. By the last two issues, your jaw is on the floor, there are some incredible panels and when it comes to action and fantasy she’s got it. Bloody depictions aren’t overly done to be gory, they are bloody and can get graphic, yes, but in no way does it ever feel trite. And then there’s the show of magic which always somehow manages to capture that ethereal quality, which I’m also going to chalk up to Dan Jackson’s colours though. The soft blues and yellows and purples of magic, are always astounding to look at. Not only is there Isaacs’ talent put into the series but we also get issues by artists such as Phil Noto and Chris Samnee to name a couple, who were perfect choices for the issues that they did do. Noto, who did the issue with Harmony—giving her the class she deserved and Samnee who drew the issue where the Fairweather ladies were introduced and made them as timeless as ever. Top artists were definitely recruited for the series and is definitely one of its best features. It’s not easy to take your eyes off the page when the pages look so good.  



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