In Review: Angel & Faith: Season 10 #23

Magic has literally come to Magic Town and Angel and Faith are not around. Highly recommended!

The covers: A pair to track down, unless you want the magic to come to you. The Main cover is by Scott Fischer and it’s another beautiful creation. Faith is standing front and center holding a sword. To her right, swirling about her like a spirit is Koh, while to her lower left is Fred, holding a crossbow. The coloring on this makes everything pop, with red and white being the dominate colors. Why aren’t Fischer’s covers prints? The Variant cover is much more foreboding. Coming from Mike Norton and Michelle Madsen, this is a night time shot of the ominous statue that was being put up in Magic Town’s park. A full moon has risen behind the image, while Illyria and Koh are crawling over it, looking as though they’re about to leap into battle. If she’s going to make an appearance in this issue, things are going to get really, really bad. I like how the statue is the focal point of the illustration and the coloring emphasizes it. Overall grades: Main A+ and Variant A-

The story: Blue streaks of energy are racing down the streets of Magic Town until converging upon the statue that was set up previously. The eyes of the gigantic figure open, with the same color of energy. Meanwhile, back at Giles’s house, Nadira comes out of a meditative state saying, “Something’s happened.” Fred says that a lot has happened recently (Drusilla’s appearance, Archaeus’s takeover, Nadira’s kidnapping and rescue), so she asks if she means something new has occurred. Nadira can’t get a clear feel for what’s transpired, because she feels as if she’s been caught off from the town. Fred suggest they go back to Magic Town, but Nadira is frightened to return. Someone appears to give her the support she needs, and it’s not Angel. Speaking of the title character, he’s off on a mission of his own, and reveals something longtime readers have suspected for some time. His scenes with Faith on Page 14 are fantastic: the banter between the two show that writer Victor Gischler has an incredible lock on this pair and how they speak and react to others. If the issue had ended there, I would have been completely satisfied with this issue. However, the action in the park grows, especially when Nadira, Fred, and the other individual get there, and Drusilla seems to be contemplating decisions. The last page is the perfect cliffhanger for this series, with neither of the title characters involved, but they soon will be to take this antagonist down. It’s always a joy to read Gischler’s stories on this series. Overall grade: A+

The art: Also a joy is the work of Will Conrad. The characters look terrific, with Nadira’s first appearance being wonderful. I’ve always been a fan of the tattoo work that Conrad has done on the left side of her body and it continues to impress in this issue. Also good is the emotion he’s giving her, such as what’s shown in the top two panels on Page 5; there’s a subtle change in her face, showing the frustration building up within her. And speaking of outstanding first appearances, the individual that appears at the bottom of the Page 5 has a cinematic entrance as anyone gets. The angle this character is drawn at is good because it shows most of the character’s body, but also shows the massive build of the individual, alerting readings to the possible muscle Nadira may need. Fred also looks terrific, with that close-up of her on 4 stellar. And don’t fret, Angel and Faith fans, they, too, look terrific. Angel gets several scenes where he’s in vamp mode and he looks exactly as did on television, while his good looks reappear, pleasing all of David Boreanaz’s fans. Faith is only on four pages for this issue, but she looks great on 14. There are also three citizens of Magic Town shown for the first time and they also look excellent. The settings look strong, with the exteriors of Magic Town great. The action sequence involving the title characters are really good, with lots of staking and body slamming. Conrad is the drawing Master. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The coloring by Michelle Madsen is really strong on this book. The main settings of the book are a night exterior in Magic Town and the interior of a dark room. Both settings don’t demand bright colors, but Madsen excellently creates dark scenes with actions that can be seen, such as when Angel has his big fight: the use of oranges to back light characters makes them stand out in the darkness. The only other color that occurs in this location is green, which long time readers will know exactly what it’s used for. One character that lights up a scene is Archaeus; his bright red body and mouth become the focus of scene every time he appears. The exterior scenes are nicely lit up from the mottled orange used to color the gigantic statue. This earthy color emphasizes how out of place this object is. Madsen is terrific. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: The opening title, scene settings, dialogue, growls, groans, sounds, vampire speech, and next issue’s tease are created by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. I always enjoy all that this pair does, with, once again, the vampire speech and the sounds being real stand outs. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Magic has literally come to Magic Town and Angel and Faith are not around. Things are building to a head in “A Tale of Two Families” and the reader is rewarded for continuing to follow this saga. Always a joy to read and always highly recommended. 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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