In Review: Angel & Faith: Season 10 #20

Magic Town's future is at stake and someone looks to be the wild card.

The covers: A very different pair of covers that showcase two very different characters. The Main cover by Scott Fischer is a stunning illustration of Angel leaping with a huge dagger in his hand. Behind him is the face of Archaeus, and before him are winding green vines, ending in two flower bulbs that contain portraits of Faith and Drusilla. Just when I think Fischer can’t outdo himself from the previous cover, he does this. Can someone please prod Dark Horse into making Fischer’s covers into a series of prints or posters? The Variant cover is by Mike Norton doing the art and Michelle Madsen the colors. It features a huge, venomous looking Dru glaring down upon Nadira, who’s holding her head while screaming in pain. This is a nice reminder from last month’s ending, as the vampire had kidnapped the “soul” of Magic Town. Overall grades: Main A+ and Variant B+

The story: At one end of the street Drusilla and her vampire thugs are holding Nadira, who doesn’t look too concerned about her situation, while at the other end is Angel with a sword, telling Dru to let her go. As the vampire begins to go off on her usual monologue about Angel being two faced, Fred runs out onto the street, prompting Dru to say, “Ah, another one of those little bits of debris that have blown into Angel’s life. You do like to gather them around, don’t you? Do they make you fell warm and loved, just as if you were a real boy?” She gives her stooges the command, and it’s fight time! Two other protagonists arrive and join in the fray, but, naturally, Dru escapes with Nadira. I like the conversation between the four heroes, but the highlights in this second part of “A Little More Than Kin” by Victor Gischler are the scenes involving Nadira, who is brought before Archaeus by Drusilla. This meeting is the premise for this story arc, and having Archaeus appear, in person (or whatever it is), was a surprise. More surprising is Nadira’s response to the creature’s request, with Page 13 a shocker and 15 being an outstanding speech and justification of her character. Not to be outdone are the scenes between Archaeus and Dru, who is walking a fine line between after life and final death working for the demon. Nadira has been one of this title’s outstanding characters and I can’t wait to see what happens to her next. Overall grade: A+

The art: Will Conrad deserves so much praise for making this visual tale look so real. His renderings of the characters made famous by the television programs look exactly like the actors who portrayed them. This is not a talent to take lightly, it’s one to be cherished, and one fans should be grateful for. Making him so worthy of praise is his ability to make the characters look exceptional at every angle: individuals are shown from every possible point of view (straight on, three-quarters, profile, up high, and down low) and they always resemble their actors. The vampires thugs that are the opening antagonists look as though they’ve gone through the make-up processes from Todd McIntosh or John Vulich. The outfit that Dru has on earns a special shout out for the intricate folds in her outfit — it’s a wowser of an image on Page 9. Original character Archaeus is quite the monstrous demon, with fantastic spikes coming out of its head and wonderful bony wings. It’s the tattoo work on Nadira that again steals all focus. With her being the primary character, she should have focus, but those spectacular swirls just captivate me. Conrad’s backgrounds are also excellent, showing a variety of settings with great details; is it insulting to say I like Conrad best when he’s showing the seedier side of Magic Town? Every page is a love letter for fans. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Helping Conrad’s art look spectacular is the coloring by Michelle Madsen. Magic Town at night is a dingy, dark place, whose building have a terrific mottled look. The characters are brightly colored to make them stand out from their surroundings, whether from their flesh or garb (such as Dru’s), they all look great. I really enjoy seeing the familiar green PAFT when vampires are taken down and the bright oranges used to accentuate the action. However, again, it’s Nadira’s tattoos that stand out in a superb luminescent green. She glows in the dark, always reminding readers off her uniqueness. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, story’s title, yells, growls, hisses, sounds, Archaeus speak, and next issue’s intriguing tease are all crafted by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. I’ve always been a fan of the strong line work done for characters’ dialogue, making their words sound as strong as they look, and the opening battle’s sounds are great. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Magic Town’s future is at stake and someone looks to be the wild card. A sensational story with outstanding visuals make this a must read. Highest possible recommendation. 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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