7.) Angel & Faith (Dark Horse) 2011 – 2013 — by Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs. Holy smokes, where do I begin? First off, this series just ended, as it was only meant to be 25 issues, but as I trade-wait, I have yet to read the finale, so I’m going to go all River Song and say NO SPOILERS.
The awesomeness that is Angel & Faith is that it carries on the great tradition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in comic form. This series, Buffy Season Nine, the Willow five-issue Wonderland and Spike’s five-issue A Dark Place (and also a Drusilla series!) all fall under the banner of Season 9. This is also the frustrating thing about this series IN THAT THERE IS SO MUCH TO READ AND I HAVE TO HAVE SOME MONEY LEFT OVER TO EAT. I’ve prioritized Angel & Faith because Angel has always been my favorite (his series too), so that means I’m a bit behind on the rest.
After the shows went off the air after seasons 7 and 5 respectively for Buffy and Angel, the series both went into comics to continue the stories. Buffy went to Dark Horse (my favorite comic distributor) and Angel went to IDW due to the split between UPN and WB at that time for the television rights. Now, under Season 9, all of Angel and Friends was bought by Dark Horse so that the two could make cameos and stuff without a bunch of legal hoo-haa. Buffy Season Eight had some…issues. And so did Angel: After the Fall and the rest of the Angel IDW run. Confused yet? So were we, the audience. The writers of the various comics for Season Eight of Buffy and Season Six of Angel went big-budget — oh my god, Dawn’s a giant and Angel and Los Angeles have been sucked into hell and Spike is on a spaceship with giant cockroaches and there are giant Hindu gods smashing out of the ground and eating everything — so that by the time Buffy finished it’s Season Eight run, I was a little distanced by what made the show so great: character driven plots that adhere to everyday life with some awesome supernatural sidelines thrown in to make it interesting. Buffy and Angel were so great because of how people reacted to the things happening to them, not because of robo-battles and helicarriers and special effects.
But, after listening to much fan feedback about the flamboyance (caution, that link has S8 spoilers) of Season Eight, they hunkered down and created the masterpiece that is Angel & Faith.
I always liked how Faith and Angel had their similarities espoused in the series and the comic is a continuation of their strange relationship in which each of them strive to make the other better, regardless of whether the other wants to change or not. In a new world created by the events of Season Eight, Angel and Faith find themselves living in Giles’s apartment in England where SPOILER ALERT Angel is trying to bring Giles back from the dead after he became possessed by an alternate dimension that he and Buffy created by skrawnking and killed Giles. (Yeah, Season Eight…let’s just move on.) Faith is also dealing with a magic-free world and what that means for those left who depended upon magic to survive. Faith, not thinking that bringing back Giles is a good idea — because when is resurrection a good idea in any TV show? — is trying to dissuade Angel by getting him to concentrate on the here-and-now. The interplay between the two is as great as ever and I, for one, am excited to have a series where the two main characters have little to no sexual tension driving events. Angel’s a little shell-shocked and Faith has more responsibility than ever and the two desperately need life-savers in order to cope with their new lives. Which is why they were teamed up in the first place: they have a little Master-Yoda-Luke-Skywalker feel, a bit of veteran-camaraderie, and a smidgen of healthy disregard for stereotypical relationships. Yay for interesting storytelling!
The best part is the intrusion of Giles’s aunts and how they liven up the broodiness that has been known to seep into both Angel’s and Faith’s lives. It’s much needed comedic relief and, once again, the story is driven by how the two eponymous characters react, not to big-budget effects and extravagance.
Also: LADY ARTISTS.
If you’re only going to read one series from the Buffy comics, read this one. You might be a bit confused, as there’s about nine years of backstory, but what comic series isn’t loaded down with lots of history? It’s nothing more than jumping into the middle of Superman comics, or, even better (worse?) X-Men comics. You won’t be disappointed by its excellence.