In Review: Angel & Faith #22

Appealing characters, a sensational story, and outstanding visuals.

The covers: Scott Fischer has outdone himself on this month’s Main cover. It’s literally a painting showing happy Drusilla and Angel at some point in the 1800s. She’s gorgeous wearing a bonnet and a layered dress. Sitting on the ground before her, holding a wicked blade, is Angel, the right side of his face being caressed by Dru. Before the title character is a lawn with white roses. Behind the pair is the huge head of Archaeus, who looks completely out of place. The image has slight coloring for the flora and the bow on Dru’s bonnet. The entire illustration is in an ornate wooden frame. Mr. Fischer, I’ve got to stand and applaud what you’ve done with this one. The Variant cover by Mike Norton and Michelle Madsen couldn’t be more opposite. Going with this issue’s theme of family, Dru, Angel, and Archaeus are posing for a family photo, all wearing the same hideous yellow and blue striped sweaters. Only Angel can’t seem to smile during the siting. This is hilariously awful and I had to purchase this version, in addition to the Main, because it makes me smile. Overall grades: Main A+ and Variant A

The story: Things are going from bad to worse, with the good guys making a desperate play. Giles’s aunts, Koh, Fred, and Faith are going into Archaeus’s hideout to help him free Nadira. Immediately entering the crumbling building they’re accosted by eight huge vampires. Faith responds, “I guess we knew it was going to get noisy sooner or later.” Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, Angel has been converted to Angelus, and is in league with the big bad and Dru. In fact, he’s telling them they need to be cautious in taking the five heroes down, saying Koh and Fred pose the biggest dangers. Dru sets out to lead the vampires while Archaeus tells Angel that they’re a family. “A hard lesson I learned from the Slayer in San Francisco. She and her friends were bound together. Not like an army or a team — something more. A family. And there is power in that.” And then he lays out his master plan. “Now you will help me convince Nadira to call forth the magic. With the magic as part of our family, we shall be unstoppable.” Angelus agrees to help, though it will be tricky. Victor Gischler has crafted another winning story, with a lot of action and a lot of wonderful lines. The best occur between Faith and Dru, with the moment on Page 18 – 20 a brilliant sequence of timing and text. I know this “season” of this book is drawing to a close, so I had no idea what Gischler would do with Nadira, since she’s become the crux of the big bad’s plan and I was very pleased with what he happened. Page 15 was also terrific. This was so enjoyable to read. Overall grade: A+

The art: Will Conrad also does an outstanding job on this book. Characters from the television series look fantastic and original characters created for this comic series look just as realistic when sharing a panel with the familiar faces. Faith, Angel, and Drusilla look perfect on every page. With Angel in Angelus mode he looks an absolute monster, and placing that face next to the smiling, human looking, Drusilla is a terrific counterpoint. The action that breaks out on Pages 5 – 7 is great: I never grow tired of watching vampires turn into skeletons that become dust. The poses that Conrad gives to Dru are outstanding. One would think that he got Juliet Landau to pose for Pages 8, 9, 11 – 13, and 18 – 20. It’s the final three pages that has Conrad crushing the visuals: I felt as though I was looking at stills from a lost episode of Angel with the way he’s got the panels set up and the way the characters are posed. The first shot of Dru at the top of 20 is a spectacular emotional moment that had me hearing her dialogue in Landau’s voice because of the way he’s drawn it. And look at all the angles he’s drawn the characters from: his point of view is all over the place, showing the reader how close or far apart the characters are from each other, and making every panel as dramatic as possible. Conrad is hitting it out of the park again. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This book is set primarily in the dark interiors of an abandoned series of apartments. There’s no reason anything should be seen brightly. Rather than confine the visuals to a dark and dreary fate, colorist Michelle Madsen uses sickening shades of green and brown to color these interiors, allowing the colors of characters’ skin and clothes to be a light in this eerie environment. This is instantly apparent on the second page when the gang of goons confronts the heroes. The characters look natural in the colors, but with the background green and grey, the vampires’ surroundings make this meeting more threatening. When Angelus appears his eyes are a strong unworldly orange, and the background at the bottom of Page 3 matches it, making his words even more powerful. The reds on Archaeus stand out every time he appears, making him the focus, as he should be since he’s the big bad. Special mention should also be made of the greens used for when vampires die and Nadira’s beautiful tattoos — I love seeing the coloring of her magical ink. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt do the lettering for this book which consists of dialogue, the story’s title, vampire dialogue, sounds, whispers, a really important text message, and the tease for next issue. It’s always a pleasure to look upon the frightening font that’s used for vampires’ dialogue and the sounds during the battle are also a highpoint. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Appealing characters, a sensational story, and outstanding visuals. All that’s missing is you picking this up! 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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