Review – Angel & Faith Vol 5: What You Want, Not What You Need TP (Dark Horse)

21623Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
Release Date: 19th February 2014

I’m not entirely familiar with the first four volumes of Angel and Faith but what I can say is that this book does follow the canon as set out in Buffy Season 8 pretty closely. Without giving too much away, it shows Angel seeking the ultimate redemption for the guilt he feels about killing Rupert Giles whilst possessed by the deity known as Twilight. Following Season 8, all magic within the world was significantly scaled back and the consequences of that are felt here in a very major way. These are areas of continuing the saga which writer Christos Gage handles well. As these past incidents mentioned are the biggest changes to the Buffyverse mythos in recent years, it is therefore crucial that these elements were brought into this story.

However, the stories suffer slightly from the same bad practices previously apparent in Dark Horse’s adaptation of these characters. Namely, an over-reliance on gimmicks, repeated grasping into the past of the series for a villain, and a sense of overlooking the journeys these characters took on the show. To elaborate on that, the way in which Rupert Giles soul is ultimately redeemed comes across as rather gimmicky as though inserted in ‘just because it can’. Something previously seen in Buffy season 8 where Dawn was turned into a giant, for example.  The choice of villain isn’t entirely convincing either given the context of the show and instead comes across as merely using a past character for name recognition with the fans.

I’m also unsure of just how authenticcally the book depicts its characters based on developments through the show. The crux of the characters is undeniably there (the vampire with a soul seeking to atone for his sins and the rogue vampire slayer looking to prove herself) but the setup around these characters and how they interact doesn’t feel entirely right when it comes to depicting how these characters would operate together. Angel for example is largely now no longer with those characters in Angel that he loved and fought alongside with which seems off-putting for one who is familiar with that past. Similarly, Faith isn’t fully rendered as one would imagine her to be. We often see her at the back of Angel rather than side by side with him and seems to come across as much less of a fiery standoffish street girl with a veneer of toughness and is instead presented as someone whose vulnerability is exposed. Even the way she fights and how she dresses make this Faith Lehane seem like an entirely different character. This not only shows some of the flaws in the character development but also in the visual elements of the book.

However, mostly the art is superbly handled. Not bogged down by visual references as so many comics that adapt TV often are, this allows for more of a natural flow throughout the book. There are also some inspired details such as some Brian Yunza like body horror as civilians caught in the fight are exposed to a plague. The grotesque visual imagery seen is beyond what would be possible on the show which is certainly an achievement considering both Buffy and Angel had fantastic visual effects.

Overall this book is reasonably solid. There are flaws as described above but the story has logic to it given where these characters are at in the comics. It has a logical flow given the circumstances within the book and in past books. It is as though the books reinterpret the characters rather than lift them directly from the show, therefore I am unsure of how fans of the show would take to the book, but I can safely say that those who are familiar with the comics and who enjoy the Buffyverse as it is now presented within Dark Horse should enjoy this given that it is in-line with recent story developments and furthers those along.

Rating: 3/5.

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The writer of this piece was:
GARYavGary Kane aka (GK)
Article: Flashin’ Back!
GK tweets from @Kanoclassic

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