Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Review: Angel & Faith #4 - "Live Through This, Part 4"
The issue picks up the big fight from the last issue, with Nash and Pearl showing off an impressive array of powers. During the fight, Angel bits Pearl, and Faith slips one of the Mohra vials to Nash, then points it out to the entire crowd. The demon mob attacks Pearl and Nash, allowing Angel and Faith to slip into the basement, where they find that the people who'd been using the Mohra blood now have cells that are generating out of control.
Angel gets the endlessly regenerating people to help clear out the fight, and Pearl and Nash flee. He and Faith then mercy kill all the Mohra victims, while Pearl and Nash plot with Whistler back at their home. Faith tells Nadira she encountered Pearl and Nash, but again leaves Angel out of it. Faith runs into Alasdair and expresses her reluctance about lying to Nadira (about Angel) and Angel (about Giles) but he assures her that it's for the greater good.
Still, she decides to come clean with Angel, who is doing some research at Giles's place. She tells him if he crosses any lines trying to resurrect Giles, she'll stop him. Angel says that's exactly why she's there -- to stop him if he won't stop himself. Angel continues his research and seems to be acting very Giles-like in doing so, which Faith picks up on.
I'd just like to point out that in a series called "Angel & Faith", it kind of bugs me that neither one of the covers for this issue has Faith on it, which is a shame since she's the real star of the issue (we'll get to that). Steve Morris's cover (pictured above) features Nash and Pearl, looking very creepy. I love the skeleton motif going on too. Rebekah Isaacs' cover, with the bust shot of Angel surrounded by the graves, is artistically powerful. The red blood splashed across Angel's face and the Mohra blood in the vial really pop against the mono-chromatic backdrop of Angel and the graves.
Score: 4.5 out of 5
This issue had the challenging task of wrapping up the first arc of this series ("Live Through This") while setting up the direction for the next 21 issues -- or at least the next few. In that regard, it most definitely succeeded. We always knew the Mohra blood wasn't going to be the answer for Angel in his quest to resurrect Giles, but the way in which that particular door was closed was heartbreaking, horrifying and keeping very much in tone with some of the better episodes of "Angel" the TV series.
What impressed me the most was Faith, and her reactions to... well, everything. She was horrified at what the Mohra blood had done to the people who used it, and even more horrified at what she had to do to "save" them. She showed real guilt over lying to her friends, and made the right choice with Angel in the end. Basically, she's actually shown that she's learned the right lessons from her own past, and is applying them to the task at hand, which isn't always easy for a character like Faith (or for a writer having to write a character like Faith). The hints of what's to come -- both with Nash and Pearl the the Mohra blood and Angel with his weird Giles affectations in the last pages -- are tantalizing, but the issue doesn't lean too heavily on "what's next" to be strong. It's good on its own merits.
Score: 5 out of 5
Remember what I said about Faith and her reactions? Well, it's one thing for Christos Gage to write those reactions, but they wouldn't be nearly as powerful without Rebekah Isaacs' art. The bottom panel of page 7, where Faith first sees what's happening in the basement... it really has to be seen to be believed, but I can almost see Faith's eyes watering up on the book in front of me. It somehow gets even better on Page 9, in the continuation of the same scene.
Really, what this comes down to is Isaacs has an uncanny ability to convey exactly what Gage is trying to get across through her artistic expression of the faces of the characters. It's incredibly impressive, given that we're only four issues into the series, and Eliza Dushku has a stunningly difficult face to get right in comic form.
Score: 5 out of 5
This is a 5. Plain and simple. It's a great issue on its own, and it's a perfect wrap-up to this first arc. There's no wasted dialogue, no useless action, just tight storytelling complemented by beautiful art. This is exactly what a Whedonverse comic should be.
Score: 5 out of 5