In Review: Angel & Faith #15

A stand alone tale that concludes too quickly, but has superior visuals.

The covers: Fred sits on a skull, with a giant tome open before her and a coffee mug balanced on a knee. Angel stands behind the skull, his collar up in a protective manner, holding a giant sword plunged deep in the skull, its point visible in one eye socket. Behind them is the flag of Ireland, with the green having a super cityscape outlined. A beautiful cover from Scott Fischer. Mike Norton provides the art and Michelle Madsen the colors on this month’s Variant cover. Fred looks happy sitting on the rocks as the breeze caresses her. Angel is watching her joy with a slight smile of his own, protected from the sun’s deadly rays by a large umbrella. Behind are some ancient ruins on the sloping green hills of Ireland. “Fight or Flight” is the title of this issue’s story, and it seems the pair has decided to take a field trip, so “flight” it is. The coloring is good, but the art is too simple. Overall grades: Main A+ and Variant C

The story: Night in the city, and a group of school children are on their way home until a clawed hand grabs the last boy who is pulled up, with his throat then being bitten ripped open. Angel kills all the children, their blood burning crimson in the night. This final image causes the protagonist to wake up screaming. It’s another nightmare where he’s dreamed of killing people. Meanwhile, Fred’s walking back to Angel’s place and sees the board game Risk. Over breakfast she says, “Tiny things…they just sneak up on me and…remind me of Wes. And I miss him, of course, but I also think of how much more of the world he saw than me. I mean, I saw Pylea, sure, but I haven’t seen lots of this world. At least not as myself.” She suggests they go to Ireland, since they’re in England, but he’s not so sure about going. He wants to look into why he’s having these dreams. She counters they can do research while on the road. They end up going and arriving in Galway, which isn’t the small village Angel described. “Well, it’s been a few hundred years.” Writer Kel McDonald has the pair finding the worst possible thing at the first place they’re staying at: a Ghost Tour that focuses on the 1753 Massacres–which Angel was responsible for. Irony and karma all rolled into one for him on this trip. There’s a nice mystery around this tour that is resolved really quickly, with one character’s appearance on Page 19 being too much too soon. I didn’t like that this character was so controllable. However, the mystery is fun and the final two pages have the return of supporting character making an appearance via a phone call, which will have the title vampire off to California soon. Page 19 aside, this was a decent stand alone tale. Overall grade: B+

The art: Will Conrad continues to do an outstanding job on this book and these characters. The opening two pages as the children are walking home has Conrad smartly tilting the panels to make readers realize something askew is about to occur, the children couldn’t possible look any more innocent than how he draws them, and the ghastly imagery at the top of the second page is enough to frighten anyone, let alone a vampire trying to do good. The exterior of Galway looks great and the interiors of the inn they’re staying at look appropriately ancient. I laughed out loud when I saw the drawing on the tour pamphlet. Page 9 has an excellent page split between simultaneously occurring actions: the left side of the page has Fred on the tour, while the right has Angel exploring something in the hotel. The look on the character’s face in the four panel is wonderfully wicked. The reveal at the bottom of 10 is great, as is the supernatural sixth panel on Page 11. Page 15 has three excellent faces on the foes of this issue–talk about shifty eyes! Conrad doesn’t just make these original characters look good; those that were introduced on the small screen also look great. Angel looks like David Boreanaz, Fred like Amy Acker, and the final familiar face on the last two pages looks like the actor who played him. When magic comes into play, it looks terrific on Pages 18 and 20–the scene needs to be powerful, and it is. Conrad is never anything but outstanding in his work on this series. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The first page delightfully lures readers into a calm state with its sedate colors. Michelle Madsen uses colors that evoke darkness, but doesn’t have any of the art obscured by the colors. The title of the story is the brightest thing on the page, and it too is sedate, using a pale orange. This is great way to begin this tale because at the top of the second page the blood coming out of the victims is unbelievably bright to show everyone all the heinous acts the vampire is committing. Using a bright orange to transition out of the dream sequence is a great way to maintain the intensity and change the setting. Fred has on a bright teal top on Page 3 making her stand out from Angel and his plainly colored apartment. It shows how she has a bright personality and he just wants to fade into the walls. Browns and tans are used for the interiors of the hotel in Ireland to age it nicely, and blues and yellows are employed for magical acts. Like Conrad, Madsen never does a poor job on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The Whedonverse comic team of Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt provide the opening title, yells, dialogue, scene setting, a pamphlet title, sounds, Vampire speak, a telephone conversation, and the closing’s The End. They, too, never do anything but a sensational job, and this book certainly is. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A stand alone tale that concludes too quickly, but has superior visuals. 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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