In Review: Angel & Faith: Season 10 #9

Perfection. Highly recommended.

The covers: Each cover features one of the leads involved in their continuing troubles. The Main cover is by Scott Fischer showing Angel being choked by a magical rat. That doesn’t sound like impressive cover material, but this is: its tail is about four feet long and wrapped around Angel’s neck, while its elongated body floats above the vampire’s head, looking as though it’s going to rip a chuck out of his head. The background is a sickly green, highlighting the creature excellently. Below is a matching rosy skull, foreshadowing the lead’s fate. As much of a fan I am of Will Conrad’s art and am a rampant Faith follower, this was the cover I had to purchase because it’s just so creepy! The Variant cover is by Will Conrad and Michelle Madsen showing Faith and fellow Deepscan employees in the jungle. A giant snake slithers down upon them, while three black forms creep closer. In the foreground is the skeleton of a man, with very familiar looking teeth. This is a good tease of where these characters will be and what they will encounter. Overall grades: Main A+ and Variant A

The story: There’s a lot happening in this issue, and I thought that this issue would wrap up “Lost and Found,” but Victor Gischler’s story deserves to continue as the action and pacing increase tremendously. The issue opens in Magic Town where Angel has been blasted against a wall by witch Amy Madison. She wants to kill Angel as a test to see if her powers have increased by being in this magical focal point of a burg. So enthralled with her own abilities, she boasts that she might even become more powerful that Willow. She creates a sword to sever his head, but he is able to break her capture spell, and in the process acquires something of great value to her. With this object in hand, he’s able to escape, and plot his next move. In Suriname, South America, Faith and her friends are going to make their move to rescue Riley Finn. Things, naturally, don’t go as planned. Highlights of the issue include the tease of a larger threat at the bottom of Page 8, the recognition on Page 10, “She’s a keeper” on 14, the smile of the “Hallmark moment” on 15, the backup on 17–completely unexpected and something that couldn’t ever be afforded on either television series, 20’s “Uh-oh,” and the reveal of the big bad on 22. I saw this character appearing at some point in the story as this individual was the impetus of the journey. With all that happens in this issue, it’s going to be interesting to see how Gischler can top himself. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Magic is a really tricky element in comic books. When I think of magic my default is Steve Ditko’s Doctor Strange. To imitate this style is to make a book become one of super heroics. Anything different is always iffy. Will Conrad is doing an exceptional job with the magic created by Amy. The opening page, as Angel is contained, could have been ridiculous looking, but the way Conrad has drawn this it is ugly and powerful. The second panel has a super sense of motion in the magic, and the surprise spell that’s used on Page 3 has some nice after effects at the bottom of the page. Conrad, again, creates some outstanding motion as Angel breaks from the spell at the top of 4. The characters also look really good, with the close-ups of Amy and Angel on 2 photorealistic. The emotions this pair show on Page 5, panels three and four, are as good as any moment from the television series. Faith also looks awesome, but the character that has the perfect look is Riley on Page 10. I felt the emotion in that look. Outstanding! There are also several supernatural creatures shown that populate Magic Town, with the final one that appears in the Angel and Amy story a show stopper. The final image in the book is a perfect introduction and cliffhanger. Conrad is delivering gold on every page. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Matching the visuals are Michelle Madsen’s colors. I’ve raved over the magic imagery that Conrad created, but Madsen makes it jaw dropping. The violets used on the opening page are powerful and unearthly, notifying readers that Amy is not to be taken for granted. Even when the magical elements are not in the panel, such as the bottom of Page 1, they still overpower characters in the room–and that’s a great use of orange to showcase the action and I love the mustard title. When a different spell is used, a very appropriate color is used and it looks great. The darkness of Magic Town disappears in the jungles of South America, which are beautiful in green and blue. The sky turns a sickly green on the final page, complimenting the characters’ situation, and there’s some terrific backlighting behind the character of the final panel–making this individual look like a god. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt create dialogue, story title, sounds, scene settings, utterings of characters that are extremely weak, and sweet Big Bad dialogue on the final page. I was completely taken by the PAFTs of this book; they’re just the perfect sound for what’s being done. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Perfection. 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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