FROM THE PUBLISHER
In Quor’ Toth, Angel, Faith, and Connor realize that their problems are only increasing the longer they are in this unpredictable hell dimension. As Willow fervently tapped into the dimension’s magic, she engaged a little too much darkness . . . Now, the crew has another danger to face: Dark Willow!
Thanks to the influence of Quor'Toth, Willow's going dark, which leaves the rest of the gang at risk of being attacked by both Willow and the giant demon that gives Quor'Toth its name. Angel gets Willow to hold it together long enough to focus on the demon. That works, but Willow embraces the evil and plans her takeover. Angel leaps into action (literally) and goes all vampy, biting Willow and calming her down. Only problem: he's now too far gone. He implores Faith to kill him before he kills Willow, but Willow manages to calm him down too. They embrace. Day saved! Yay!
The gang says their goodbyes, as Willow admits she'll never forgive Angel (for the whole "Twilight" thing), but she can't hate him either. She offers up the Scythe, and whatever piece of Giles it may have. Angel takes it and says he felt Giles, who is "trying something big." Interrupting the happy moment, Quor'Toth wakes up and everyone gets out just in time: Angel, Faith and Connor to Los Angeles and Willow to parts unknown, continuing her quest to restore magic.
As Angel and Faith suss out the next part of Angel's plan in Los Angeles, Nadira is dealing with Drusilla's rampage in London. Patsy, one of Nadira's slayer crew, saw Angel start the riot that let Drusilla get away. Except she didn't only see Angel... she saw Faith too. THE END.
It's overly simplistic to compare "Angel & Faith" with "Buffy Season 9", but I'm going to do it anyway, since the most recently concluded arc of each book served as a perfect contrast. This issue was not just the perfect conclusion to this arc but moved things forward in the overall story in a meaningful way, both from a plot and character development perspective. I'll admit that I thought the detour to Quor'Toth was unnecessary at first, but Christos Gage made it work and paid it off in big ways.
On first read, I thought Willow's calming of Angel after he'd bit her was a bit too quick and convenient, but it actually works as a solid parallel to Xander's calming of Dark Willow in Season 6. In a way, she's come full circle with her darkness. And it was fun to see Dark Willow again, even if only for a few pages.
For a book called "Angel & Faith", there isn't a ton of action that involves the two main characters directly, but Gage puts in plenty of aside moments that show how close the two have become. Faith trusts Angel enough to give him a literal boost in his "bite Willow" plan, and Angel trusts Faith enough to let her kill him, if it had come to that.
Rebekah Isaacs did a masterful job with the art, particularly in the two-page spread where Willow and Quor'Toth face off. Willow's veiny-ness and hair color darkening get more noticeable as she embraces her power more, credit for which should go to both Isaacs and colorist Dan Jackson (and probably editors Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn for making sure that detail wasn't overlooked).
Getting back to my original review point, by the end of this issue, we get a true sense of where the characters and the story goes from here, something that couldn't be said of the end of the last "Buffy" arc. Angel & Faith are headed back to London, to continue the quest for Giles and deal with the surprise revelation Nadira has learned. Willow is off to continue her quest in her own book, due Nov. 21. And this arc also ties in to the Spike mini-series, with Pearl and Nash having jumped over there. In fact, right now, the only Whedonverse book that doesn't seem to fit into the bigger picture is "Buffy" itself. I'm certain that will change very shortly, but it feels weird for the moment.