The covers: Really beautiful Main cover by Scott Fischer with Faith, wearing protective armor, running through a jungle, pistol raised to fire in her left hand, and in her right is a stake. Behind her is a odd, almost native, looking circular pattern of piranhas. I love the look on her face, I love what she’s wearing–never seen her dressed like this before–and I’m loving the red fish behind her. This is working on every level. Plus, I’m a major Faith fan, so this is like Christmas come early. The Variant cover is by internal artist Will Conrad and internal colorist Michelle Madsen. This cover is a terrific image of Angel in vamp mode doing a Batman pose from the top of building. His jacket flails about from a burst of wind, bringing readers to look at the monstrous sword he has ready. Great moody pose with the coloring great. I love the blues and reds used to bring out the folds in his leather jacket. Just great. Overall grades: Both A
The story: A new arc begins from Victor Gischler with the first part of “Lost and Found.” The story opens in dramatic fashion with a gigantic amphibian humanoid beating the tar out of Angel in a back alley of Magic Town. Angel switches to vamp mode after the creature surprises him, but it doesn’t help him at all. It tells the vampire it’s unhappy with the way he acts like the elected savior of the “bloody realm.” Before any more harm can be handed out, several rocks in the alley rise up, glowing blue. They begin to pummel the antagonist, swirling about him in a fevered pitch, until he can’t stand any more and runs off. Angel slowly gets up to see who rescued him. It’s a very familiar face wielding magic. It’s Amy Madison and she needs Angel’s help. How’s that for an opening? And that’s just the setup for the Angel portion of the story. Where’s Faith? She’s on a mission in South America doled out by Kennedy that involves Riley Finn and his wife. I can’t say anymore about this without giving it away, but you know it’s not going to go flawlessly. Gischler is on fire with this story. I admit to wanting to see the pair of leads reunited, because I love them together, but if the story stays as good as this with them apart, who cares? Completely accessible by anyone who hasn’t seen any of these characters’ adventures on the small screen and riveting reading for their fans. I don’t want Gischler to ever leave this book. Overall grade: A+
The art: The art on this book is absolutely the equal of the story. Will Conrad has got a really nice fine line in his artwork, and I like that more so than artists who use thick lines. He has captured the likenesses of David Boreanaz and Eliza Dushku excellently. Every time Angel stares off in confusion, which is a lot in this issue, Conrad has made him look like Boreanaz beautifully. Angel is going through fairly familiar settings in Magic Town, so there’s not much that stands out as fantastic, since the book’s gone there before, but Conrad makes it look good. The South American setting with Faith is a completely new environment and it’s got the Wow Factor all over it. The supporting characters look great and Faith is flawless. When an action sequence breaks out in that locale I was generally surprised how it’s subtly handled with the visuals. Conrad could have gone much bigger with “that” trait of the antagonists, but it’s just that much more creepier being smaller. I love the look of this book on every page. Overall grade: A+
The colors: Look at the second panel on the first page. The shading done with colors by Michelle Madsen is a perfect match for Conrad’s art. Her coloring makes this image of Angel on the wrong end of a fist look three dimensional. There’s also even more detailed color work done in the panel below it. There are four characters in the mix now, and Madsen’s colors create the right tones to the massive muscles of the monster making mincemeat of Mr. Angel. I also like the bright colors used on the energy surrounding Angel’s head. Bright colors continually show emotion or energy in this book, and this battle, especially on 3. Colors also quickly denote a change in setting as the dark streets of Magic Town contrast with the bright oranges and vegetation greens of South America. When isn’t Madsen doing excellent work? Overall grade: A+
The letters: Dialogue, titles, yells, sounds, monster dialogue, scene settings, and whispers (loved those) are created by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. There’s a lot of nice variety of in this book, with that final sound of PAFT being gorily gorgeous. Overall grade: A+
The final line: Get. This. Now. Perfect entry point for new readers and a delight for long time fans. Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.