Comic Review: ANGEL & FAITH #22
After murdering Giles while possessed by Twilight at the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, Angel has desperately pursued any method of resurrection in a world now devoid of magic. He’s been aided by a reluctant Faith, trying to help guide Angel toward redemption, as he once did for her. Now, at long last, Angel is ready to enact his plans.
It would be almost impossible to talk about Angel & Faith #22 without mentioning the fact that, yes, the gang succeeds in resurrecting Giles. What form he takes, though, is something I’ll leave you to discover on your own. It’s not what you’d expect — none of the characters see it coming either — and it has the effect of turning Giles’ traditional role as Watcher, one of mentorship and authority, on its head.
Questions of whether or not Angel has the moral right to bring Giles back are largely set aside this issue, as everyone deals with the more immediate concern that Rupert is back. There’s a moving bit during the resurrection spell, as each character focuses their thoughts on Giles. His great-aunts Sophie and Lavinia remember the young boy whose life they ruined, Angel remembers snapping Giles’ neck, and most touchingly of all, Faith remembers the man who became her ally when she had no others. “C’mon, G. I never said this to anyone before in my life…but I need you,” she thinks to herself, and for any long-time Buffy fan, the room gets a tad dusty.
Giles is a character who, by definition, had outlived his usefulness. From the moment it became obvious that Buffy wasn’t going to die a naive young girl like the Slayers before her, it was inevitable that she would outgrow her Watcher. In the later seasons of Buffy, Joss Whedon and company got some mileage out of a college-age Buffy no longer needing her mentor, eventually getting to the point where Anthony Stewart Head left the regular cast. His and Buffy’s relationship was fractured and vaguely contentious throughout Season 8, and now that he’s back, he’s left unsure of where he stands in this world he once knew so well.
Faith and Giles share a tender rooftop conversation, in which she tries to convince him that she needs him now more than ever. Giles sees things differently: “You may have wanted the old me back. But you don’t need him anymore, Faith. None of you do.” As he has throughout the series, Christos Gage excels at giving voice to these characters. Angel and Faith’s reactions to the resurrection are spot-on; they’re not simple emotions to express, but in all their complexity and nuance, Gage nails them. He even makes relatively new characters like Sophie, Lavinia, and Giles’ old pal Alasdair feel as vital as the original cast, something that can’t be said about the unnecessary additions taking up page space over in Buffy: Season 9.
One of the big reasons Angel & Faith has outclassed both comic book seasons of Buffy is the artwork of Rebekah Isaacs. The characters we know from the TV series clearly resemble the actors who originated them, but they also look right at home on the comics page. When I’m reading this book, I never wish I was watching David Boreanaz or Eliza Dushku instead of looking at little two-dimensional drawings. Just as much as Gage, Isaacs sells the reality of these characters and their world.
I imagine the next few issues, as the series reaches its conclusion, will be a roller-coaster of action and high drama, so it’s important that we get this issue to take a breather and reflect. More so than any other comic book based on a Whedon property, Angel & Faith has made the transition from TV to comics feel seamless. Fans know that those moments of conversation and quiet are just as crucial as the big battles, if not more so. In that regard, Angel & Faith #22 is yet another knock-out from the Gage/Isaacs team.