In today's installment, we learn Angel can't stand to see anyone happy, and everyone and their grandmu - er, grandaunts knows he's trying to bring Giles back.
Angel & Faith #9 & 10 by, Christos Gage (script), Rebekah Isaacs (art issue 9), Chris Samnee (art issue 10), Dan Jackson (colors issue 9), Jordie Bellaire (colors issue 10), Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt (letters) - Jack sent along the Isaacs' covers this time instead of the Steve Morris' ones. Don't know why, luck of the draw perhaps. I like the little angels in the stained glass in the background on 9. You can even tell they're Angel by the stupid hair and exceedingly large forehead.
My theory Faith was trying to trick Drusilla was wrong. Not the first time that's happened. End result is with all the pain gone, Faith feels happy. Naturally, Angel can't have that, so he generally talks shit about her taking the easy way out until Dru gets fed up and decides to feed him to the Lorophage. Even though she's doing it against his will, I'm with Dru. Angel couldn't possibly be more insufferable, and if it made him happy enough he lost his soul, well, then someone could stake him. I have no problem with that endpoint.
It's not to be, as Faith comes to Angel's rescue, fending off Dru until Angel can jab the Lorophage with its own claws, causing it to release all the trauma it fed on? That doesn't seem like that's how it should work (shouldn't it get stuck in a loop of feeding off the trauma of feeding on itself?), but fine, whatever. This means all the people who came to the Lorophage - including Faith - get their pain back, which makes them understandably angry at Angel. It also drives Dru back 'round the bend, where she speaks of dire portents for Angel. Too bad she isn't sane, or she could be more precise! Oh wait. Good job, Peaches.
In the second issue, Giles' great-aunts show up. They know Angel killed Giles, but don't care, because they need protection. They've concentrated all their magical abilities into staying young and beautiful, but with magic gone, that's fading. They also made several deals with demons for various boons, to be collected when they start to show their age. Which wasn't ever going to happen as long as they had magic, but oops. I was about to blame Angel, but then I remembered that one's on Buffy (though they blame Angel, but Buffy smashed the egg thing, I'm sure of it). Our heroes have to fend off all the creditors, and when its over, are gifted with a crystal that had stored a bit of Giles' soul. Because even though they use their magic frivolously, they liked Rupert. Which is kind of sweet. And there's a surprise guest star on the last page, who will probably really piss me off in the next issue! No, not Buffy. There are plenty of other characters in this universe who could show up and piss me off.
I suppose I should be a little bothered when Angel and Faith let the fat demon pass to receive his kiss, given how horrified Lavinia looked. I mean, he's got the slimy tongue, the grin, she has her hand sup to ward him off and is crying. Just going off the art, it's a horror movie scene. On the other hand, Lavinia agreed to this, and nobody likes a welcher. Or is it nobody likes a welsher? Or nobody likes the Welsh? I forget.
I am consistently amused that Angel is the one who keeps being hardest on himself (it's his being that hard on everyone else that irks me). He tries to explain to Sophie and Lavinia that it's more complex than his being controlled, but they blow him off. Don't care at all. Even Dru was getting tired of Angel's wallowing in misery. At some point you'd think he could reach the stage where he does the right thing because he likes it, instead of because of guilt. I suppose that would require removing his head from ass. I'm curious to see if Angel forcing Faith to take back her pain causes problems. Thus far, it doesn't seem it's poisoned the waters between them, but she did seem less inclined to care about the other people the Lorophage had fed on, or Drusilla for that matter. I wonder if reliving all that pain as it came back hasn't damaged her empathy. Which could end up producing much the same effect Angel feared taking it away would. Oh well, Angel screws things up again. What a surprise.
Isaacs continues to do her usual stellar work, especially with the facial expressions, which is kind of important in an issue that's so much about people being happy, sad, content, enraged, and so on. The counterpoint of Faith with a big smile while tears stream down her cheeks, versus Dru who gets much the same look when she gets her pain back. Wide eyes, tears, big smile. A nice contrast. Plus, there was a panel on page 4, as Angel's getting into his spiel with Faith in the background, of Dru in the foreground, looking on and glaring. Gritting her teeth even. She's just so fed up right then with him. Maybe I just like it because I know how she felt. I also like how Dan Jackson went with mostly reds inside Dru's home, but then it switches to deep blues and violets once they're outside, with Angel carrying a torch out the window to kind of transition. I don't know what it means, that in the aftermath of beating the Lorophage, they're left cold? Or that they've calmed down, when before tensions were running high? Redlining, if you will?
The art chores switch to Chris Samnee for issue 10. If this is going to be the pattern for this book - 4 issue arcs drawn by Isaacs, then a done-in-one by a different artist - I can work with that. Samnee's art is a little different, linework is thicker, his tends to use shadows a bit more than Isaacs, not as many close-ups on faces, though that might be due to his issue not being as much about emotional gut punches as #9 was. Still, the principal characters are recognizable. He made sure to give Angel stupid hair and a giant forehead, for example, which is practically all you need. I love the panel of them fighting the giant snake, mostly for Faith's amused expression. I'm not sure whether she's smiling at Angel trying to not to get swallowed, or at Sophie berating the snake for not giving her six-pack abs. Also, the panel of Angel with holding nails in his mouth while he puts another door up. I don't know, he looks so domestic somehow, with the half-open eyes. It's the look I imagine a lot of people have when they do some mundane task they don't need to concentrate fully on.
All told, a couple of good issues. I know we're not even halfway through the year, but I think Angel & Faith is going to be Daredevil's prime competition for my favorite ongoing of the year. Especially if the amount of Paolo Rivera in the latter continues to decline. Tomorrow is - Sunday. Oh right, Burn Notice. Monday then, we walk glumly into the shadow of Avengers vs. X-Men. There's next to no chance that post will be positive.