In Review: Angel & Faith Season 10 #18

Teenage vampires, an iconic villain, and plenty of action make this recommended reading!

The covers: A pair of covers for you to add to your clutch, and they couldn’t be more opposite. Scott Fischer’s cover is a beautiful illustration with Drusilla wearing her gothic finest: a vibrant green strapless dress, with the skirt portion being neon. She’s wearing her usual black choker and her hair is piled atop her head. She’s reclining on several fawning young boys, who clutch and caress her like a mother. She’s looking up at something unexpected, her left hand covered in blood. This is a spectacular image–Simply flawless! From the other end of the spectrum is the Variant cover by Mike Norton and Michelle Madsen. This features Dru, Faith, and Fred reenacting the famous movie poster from the 1995 film Clueless. The women are on the same stairs, with the same looks on their faces, but from there it’s very different: Dru has some files, Faith a stake, and Fred some binders. This is hilarious! Even the logo has been altered to look as though it’s from the film. This was an excellent take on that classic film. Overall grades: Main A+ and Variant A

The story: Answering the question “How did Drusilla get into this storyline?”, writer Victor Gischler has Dru recount how she was visited by Archaeus (recently causing trouble in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic) who asked for her help in changing the world. She’s recounting this tale to Mary, who’s been captured by her vampire-converted students. Mary is to be the last she converts because “With a Slayer and all of those troublesome police snooping around, I’m afraid we need to find new friends elsewhere.” She also whispers, “He told me how very helpful you can be.” As she leans in to bite her on the neck, a door is kicked open by Faith and it’s game time! This was like a classic Buffy episode, with a Slayer having to run from and fight a throng of bloodsuckers. Simultaneously, Fred is trying to get out of the school, and she’s being pursued as well. There are some exciting fight scenes, some zippy lines, and the arrival of someone completely unexpected who changes the battle dynamics. The story may be set in England, but the ending seemed straight out of Boston Legal. In fact, I expected Faith to be smoking a cigar, but I know she doesn’t smoke. The final two pages wrap up one character’s fate, while leaving the door wide open for her return. A very satisfying conclusion. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Cliff Richards does a slick job on this issue, starting with a very freaky opening two pages. It starts with a fairly horrific image of Dru empting a person’s throat, which transitions in the next panel to her laying in bed serenely. She then hovers above the bed like Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters. The bottom panel is a spectacular close-up of the vampiress smiling insanely. If this image wasn’t disturbing enough, she then levitates higher until she is confronted by a chilling image of Archaeus in silhouette as he seduces her. The bottom two panels as she accepts his pleas are classic horror images, like something out of a Hammer film. I loved them! The dramatic change in settings results in a change in Drusilla, now human looking as she continues her tale for Mary. Dru looks just like Juliet Landau, as Faith and Fred resemble Eliza Dushku and Amy Acker. I was also pleased to see the vampires sporting the same look as the vampires from Buffy and Angel — I’ve missed seeing that makeup. Richards also does a super job on all the settings: take a look at the gym where the action starts and all the linework done in the wood floors — it’s excellent! Richards is on fire this issue and readers get to reap the rewards. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Strong coloring is also to be found in this book. Michelle Madsen opens things dramatically with lots of reds as Dru drains her victim, and the color carries over in the dress that she wears. The close-up at the bottom of the first page uses yellows brilliantly to spotlight her madness, with her pupils light orange. The yellow of her eyes is a good match for the story’s title. The same colors as her insane eyes light up the page in fire as Archaeus seduces her. It’s beautiful — it’s hell on earth — but it’s beautiful. Madsen also does a good job in keeping things dark, since this is the interior of a school at night, but makes characters’ flesh bright enough for readers to know who’s who. My favorite work was the putrid green she employs when vampires go PAFT; I just can’t get enough of that color. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The Whedonverse’s tag team of Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt provide this issue’s letters, contributing dialogue, story title, excellent vampire speak, some delicious whispering, sounds, and “The End.” Everything is good, with those sounds during the fight scenes being strong and fun. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Teenage vampires, an iconic villain, and plenty of action make this recommended reading. 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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