Angel and Faith start out at a bar, shaking down a demon named Fraser for information on the Mohra Demon blood. Fraser denies having it, but Angel is sure he does, and comes up with a plan on the fly to prove it, while Faith talks with him about the possibility of using the blood to make Angel human again (thus fulfilling the Shanshu prophecy). They track down some of Fraser's customers to confirm their suspicions, then meet with Alasdair Coames, one of Giles' old acquaintances to figure out how to find the Mohra.
After leaving Coames's place, Faith joins up with her slayer friends, who are trying to break up a fight between Nadira and a bunch of Arsenal fans. They see Faith as their mentor and "the grownup", a role she isn't entirely comfortable with. However, Coames sees her the same way and approaches her about Angel. He picked up on the sense that Angel wants to resurrect Giles, and needs Faith to stop that from happening.
Faith and Angel, incognito, crash an auction where Fraser is selling off Mohra blood. They start a rumor that the blood is fake, to anger the demon crowd and force Fraser's hand. He brings out the Mohra to prove the blood is real, and Angel and Faith free him. Because he's weakened from the blood draining, the Mohra can't fight alongside Angel and Faith, and chooses to sacrifice himself. That creates a riot for the last vials of blood, which Faith destroys (after snagging a couple). Right as Angel says things couldn't have gone worse, Pearl and Nash crash. Faith vows to herself to help Angel get rid of the monsters adding that she'll "get rid of one myself. Him."
The Steve Morris cover for this issue is brilliant. I love the imagery of Angel's vampire visage splitting in half and essentially burning off him to reveal his human side. Faith's expression and body language give off the image of someone who is both confused about her place in the world and beaten down by her responsibilities. And the flying angel at the top... well, that just looks cool. Rebekah Isaacs once again draws B cover duties, and does an admirable job, but I think I like Morris's cover better this time.
Score: 4 out of 5
I realized with this issue why I'm enjoying this series so much, and so much more than I did the early issues of "Buffy Season 9". In that series, Twilight was the driving force behind everything, but we didn't see him until well into the run. Despite that, there wasn't a whole lot going on that wasn't related to him, which made his non-presence so much more frustrating. In this series, Nash and Pearl have been established as antagonists, but Christos Gage is spinning a wide web that goes far beyond those two, so their brief appearances are just another story layer, rather than a frustrating tease.
It just so happens that as I'm reading this series, I'm in the process of rewatching "Angel" the series, and this issue -- with its shakedown of Fraser, Angel coming up with a plan on the fly and even the crashing of an auction -- fits perfectly with the early seasons of the TV show. It helps that Gage manages to make subtle references to specific pieces of the show, like when Faith brings up Shanshu and Angel says "It's kind of off the table."
It's cliche to say, but this story really does get better every issue.
Score: 4.5 out of 5
OK, so I could sit here and tell you how awesome Rebekah Isaacs makes this issue look, but I do that in general in every review. Instead, I'm going to call out specific panels/images I loved about this issue:
- In Panels 2 and 3 of Page 6, Faith is clearly seen wearing a Dustin Pedroia Red Sox jersey. Gage and Isaacs are both New Englanders, and therefore Red Sox fans, but this isn't just their own self-indulgence. Faith is also from Boston, so it makes sense (also, credit to Isaacs for not making it one of those lame pink Red Sox jerseys that are so popular these days... Faith wouldn't be caught dead in one of those).
- All the Arsenal stuff, obviously, but particularly in the first fight panel on Page 11, which has quite a bit of detail, including a Nike swoosh and accurate sponsor logo.
- Isaacs has a great eye for fashion, and though she doesn't always get to use it with the main characters, it comes through in shining colors in the scene with Nadira and the other slayers.
- It's subtle, but the way Isaacs draws Faith protecting the last vials of Mohra blood is critical to conveying Faith's thoughts at that moment.
Score: 4.5 out of 5
Score: 4.5 out of 5 (we're so close to "perfect"... I'm almost ready to break down and give out that 5 of 5 score).