Season 10 of the Buffy-verse continues ahead full steam, but while the main Buffy comic is on a new high, how is its younger counterpart doing?
I can see what they’re trying to do with this series, I really can. I’m just not sure they succeed.
Following the events of last ‘season’ (which was technically season 1 of Angel & Faith, but to align it with the Buffy books its altered this season’s numbering) there’s a large section of London that’s been accidentally converted into ‘Magic Town’, and it’s up to Angel to police it. He’s currently investigating on his own while Faith is struggling to fit in with the other slayers as they attempt to go legitimate.
Both the lead characters are faithful to their onscreen adaptations, and the storyline structure and style is very much trying to recreate the feel of the Angel TV series. The trap that this book falls into is one that many comic book adaptations of already established franchises fall into, and that is they appear to be strangling themselves with their own history. The plot and where it takes you is reminiscent of an episode of the show both in good ways and bad – at no point could any of this issue not be recreated on-screen with a late 90s TV budget. This is a comic! They can and most definitely should be doing things you could never dream of seeing on TV, especially with the subject matter. Which is another thing.
The tone and feel and even the setting to a degree is like a poor man’s Hellblazer. It’s not intentional I’m sure, because it fits and follows their own established universe, but there are enough similarities to – while not being derivative – make me wish I was just reading Hellblazer. For that matter I’d even settle for BPRD, or anything that takes the ‘magical stuff in a realistic place’ and takes it to the crazy places only comics can go.
There are some good points here. Faith is still a fascinating character, and the comparisons to Buffy rear their ugly heads again. She screws up a mission here and gets a stern talking to, and it’d be interesting to see if she’s grown at all and rises to the occasion, or self destruct like she’s known to do. Likewise Angel is written as well as the character can be. He’s always been boring – let’s face it! He’s a trope (dark, brooding, atoning for past sins) that was highlighted and playfully mocked on the show so many times, never more so than by Wesley or in later seasons Spike, but here he’s not got the engaging supporting cast to ground him. Plus the list of sins he needs to make up for has become unconquerable thanks to his actions back in season 8 (of which the less said the better), so I’m not sure where he can go from here.
The art is similarly restricted. The creative team from last ‘season’ did such a good job that they were poached for the main event, so Will Conrad steps in here. It’s not bad, and again, if you’re looking for a continuation of the TV show then you’re looking at it. The faces are a good likeness and all the settings and monsters could have come from the show, but again I want something more.
Dark Horse should be aiming higher with a franchise that I absolutely love. I grew up with this stuff, I know all the episodes of Buffy and Angel like the back of my hand, so I like to think I know what I’m talking about when I say that both of those shows were constantly evolving. For better or worse they kept changing and never stopped aiming high, which for a TV show is a big deal. With Angel & Faith though I get the feeling that they’re trapped by their own mythology; doomed to just keep things lukewarm and not just let loose. That’s the kind of comic book this could be. Forget what’s come before and stop trying to recreate the TV series and instead create something new. That’s what I want to read.
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