Saturday, May 17, 2014

Opening With Retcon, Angel And Faith: Live Through This Reboots The Outcasts!

The Good: Decent character work, Interesting story
The Bad: Harmony one-shot is blah, Artwork
The Basics: The new Buffyverse series Angel And Faith starts with Live Through This which reads like a pilot episode to the continuing adventures of two well-established characters.

The continuation of the Buffyverse in comic book and graphic novel form seems to be a reliable cash cow for Joss Whedon and a source of joy to most fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. I’m not entirely sure yet how I feel about it. I know that I was very excited about the concept of the eighth season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer being delivered in graphic novel form, but the truth is that the execution of the concept was a bit more erratic than the sixth season of Angel in graphic novel form. The two series synch up after Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight and they are continued now in Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Nine and Angel And Faith. The first collection of Angel And Faith books is Angel And Faith: Live Through This.

It is impossible to discuss Angel And Faith: Live Through This without spoiling the finale of Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Nine, Last Gleaming (reviewed here!). Because Angel and Faith end up reconnecting in the climax of Last Gleaming and before that Faith was paired with Rupert Giles, how their circumstances changed has a huge effect on the current storyline. Angel And Faith: Live Through This heavily references events in both Angel and Buffy The Vampire Slayer as well as both of the graphic novel series’ that preceded this book.

Angel And Faith: Live Through This picks up months after the death of Rupert Giles. Angel has been brooding until Faith starts reading through Giles’s records and she uncovers a demon that possessed a girl named Hannah. Giles was unable to defeat the demon, but bound it to the girl and had to go back periodically for “maintenance” and with his death, that responsibility now falls to Angel and Faith. After Angel defeats the demon, he gets the cherished memory of Giles’s, that had been taken by the demon. In a world without magic, the demon hierarchies are all upset and Angel decides that he wants to resurrect Giles in order to have him keep up the good fight (and alleviate his own sense of guilt).

To that end, Angel and Faith begin hunting a Mohra demon whose blood is being used to heal humans and demons all around town. As Angel works to stop the illegal trafficking of Mohra demon blood and to get what he needs to resurrect Giles, Faith considers the implications of tossing Mohra blood on Angel and ending his long run with the tortured soul and giving him back a human life. But Faith has a Slayer friend, Nadira, who blames Angel for slaughtering her pack of slayers and Angel is being hunted by a pair of demons, Pearl and Nash, who have been tasked by Whistler to help restore the balance in the magicless world by killing Angel. When the Mohra demon refuses to play along with the business transaction that will use his blood, it pushes Angel and Faith into a facility where the full ramifications of using the Mohra demon’s blood in a world without magic is realized . . . with horrible consequences.

Angel And Faith: Live Through This also includes a pointless digression with Harmony. Harmony and Clem visit Angel and Faith with concerns about her career. Now leading a movement where vampires only feed on willing victims, Harmony's career is put in peril when a tape surfaces of her siring an unwilling human. As Angel and Faith investigate who wants Harmony's career killed most, they come to figure out who is truly behind her potential demise, though it is hard to care. The book also includes a cover gallery.

The artwork in Angel And Faith: Live Through This is mediocre. The characters are largely stylized and Faith looks virtually nothing like Eliza Dushku, save on a handful of panels throughout the book. That said, the new characters are rendered consistently, so Nadira, Pearl and Nash each look distinctive enough to be recognizable.

Angel And Faith: Live Through This focuses quite a bit more on Faith than on Angel and that actually works well. Angel’s internal monologue has been pretty much done to death between the television series and the prior graphic novels. Faith, on the plus side, has not been given the chance to truly develop beyond her issues with having been a psychopath who has searched for redemption (fairly successfully). Writer Christos Gage does a good job of developing Faith’s voice and yet making the character read like the familiar one fans appreciated on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. Faith in Angel And Faith: Live Through This is levelheaded and protective in a way that she has not been in the past.

Angel And Faith: Live Through This is very much a starting point, so Gage is busy throughout the book laying the foundation for future storylines. The Harmony plotline stands alone amid the unresolved subplots involving Nadira and Pearl and Nash. This is a good starting point, artwork aside, and fans have good reason to hope that the pairing of Angel and Faith will develop well given how they are two surprisingly similar Buffyverse characters.

For other Buffyverse graphic novels, please visit my reviews of:
Spike: Old Wounds
Angel: Immortality For Dummies


For other book reviews, please check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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