In Review: Angel & Faith Season 10 #16

Faith comes to the front, but she'd rather be in the back of the class during this caper.

The covers: The Main cover is an image I never thought I would see involving Faith Lehane. Decked out in a red jumpsuit, with the collar fashionably up, Faith is holding a whistle as ghostly images of three boys are leaping about her, all trying to reach a red skull that’s substituting for a ball. This is a clever cover of gym teacher Lehane by Scott Fischer to tease the contents of the story, and it’s downright eerie thinking about Faith instructing children. The Variant cover goes for the funny and the jugular in a parody of the poster for The Breakfast Club. Angel has taken Judd Nelson’s spot, Faith is in for Ally Sheedy, Fred is doing her best Molly Ringwald, and poor Emilio Estevez and Anthony Michael Hall have been replaced by English vampire schoolboys. Even the logo has been changed at the top to mirror that film’s title. Done by Mike Norton with Michelle Madsen, this made me smile. Overall grades: Main A and Variant B+   

The story: Angel’s out this issue, as he’s busy helping Buffy over in her book, so Faith finally gets some focus in this first chapter of “Those Who Can’t Teach, Teach Gym” by Victor Gischler. Now with an apartment of her own, albeit one without furniture, Faith spots a used furniture store across the street and a café. She checks out the furniture before settling down to have a coffee. Just as she’s about to take a sip she sees Inspector Brandt looking at her, who gets up and sits with her. He’s looking for Angel and she tells him if he helps her she’ll divulge his location. After getting the bed from the store up to his room, she reveals he’s back in the states, prompting Brandt to say, “…a slayer’s just as good as an angel when push comes to shove.” The scene then moves to a prep-school where a girl is bossed around by one girl and then frightened by a clique of three girls that volunteer to help her. Seeing this trio in action will make readers suspect the worst. Fred and Faith’s scenes together are fun; it’s nice to see the girls have some time to talk. However, something happens in the bathroom that has Faith’s immediate future charted. The issue ends on an excellent cliffhanger that I, and Faith, didn’t see happening. This issue progressed the Angel nightmare problems, had some decent bonding between Fred and Faith, solid action, and prep-school drama your mother never warned you about. Overall grade: A

The art: Cliff Richards is handling the art chores on this issue and he’s good. With the exception of one word of dialogue and the story’s title, there’s no dialogue on the first two pages. Richards nicely conveys Faith’s mood with his artwork on the first page and her need to get out on the second page. He’s captured the likeness of Eliza Dushku really well, with that final panel on Page 3 explicitly showing what she’s thinking without the reader able to see what she’s focused on. I knew that look from the series and thought, ‘Uh, oh. This isn’t going to be good.’ There are many panels throughout this book where a reader can tell exactly what Faith is thinking without there being any dialogue. Fred also looks like her portrayer, Amy Acker, though she’s pretty frightened for most of her scenes. I was feeling a little worrisome as well, concerned that her alter ego might appear again. The sequence in the bathroom is exciting and realistically done; it’s a tight space so it’s going to be messy. The new characters, the students, are nicely done, with the trio giving off such a Mean Girls vibe I was expecting Lindsay Lohan to appear. Richards also does a solid job on the backgrounds, especially at the school, showing much of the halls and the gym. Overall grade: A

The colors: The first page needs an excellent colorist to use their skills to get the loneliness of Faith across in the last panel. Michelle Madsen does a terrific lighting effect in that panel, and highlights the story’s title in bright light green. I really like how the only thing that isn’t bright in that scene is Faith. Outstanding! The first time the story moves within the school, the colors go blue for the walls and the school’s uniforms. It’s a slick way to make things initially appear passive, but reader’s should know that won’t last. Page 10 has got a gorgeous use of orange that darkens as it moves away from the focal point, and the green on 13 is equally beautiful. The new location where the three protagonists meet is really red, I mean really red. It’s a very intense color for such an establishment and it made the setting very harsh. I’m hoping for a slight change should it appear again. The final panel of the book has an excellent teal background that suggests the unrest that Faith has encountered. Nicely done! Overall grade: A-

The letters: Stalwarts Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt provide the lettering for this issue, including dialogue, the story’s title, sounds, a scream, and next issue’s tease. There are several sounds in the action sequence, and they look good, but I’m really taken by the “To be continued…” at the end of the issue; it just looked cool. Overall grade: A

The final line: Faith comes to the front, but she’d rather be in the back of the class during this caper. This is an excellent jumping in point for new readers and an enjoyable read for fervent fans, of which I consider myself a member. Overall grade: A 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five 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.
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