Angel & Faith #2 - "Live Through This", part 2

Oct 09, 2011 23:52

My belated thoughts about Angel & Faith #2 (that I didn't post before for no other reason than that I didn't find time for it).

I'm more ambivalent about this issue than about #1, because there are things I really loved, and some things I was bothered by - in the sense that they show how the series might go wrong. However, it all depends on how the series is developed later.

What I liked:

1) I love the fact that there is a vampire who doesn't have any qualms about shooting a Slayer with a gun. He says that "old rules don't apply anymore", a reminder that using guns is not supposed to be cool according to the vampire tradition, but I really find it almost unbelievable that so far there weren't almost any vampires or demons (other than Darla in season 1) who would do just that, even though guns are most efficient weapons against the Slayers, plus they're less likely to hurt a vampire. I can't believe that 99% of vampires are such traditionalists, or that even those that aren't traditionalists at all (like Spike) still don't use guns. In Spike's case it's because he likes the hand-to-hand fight; however, this doesn't fit with him sending assassins at Buffy in season 2... and surely there are other non-traditionalist vampires who would have no problem with using guns. How about the Gorch brothers, who used guns all the time when they were human?

The modernist vampire still gets killed by a medieval weapon, which is probably intended as irony, but that doesn't change the fact that a vampire using a gun against a Slayer makes a lot of sense. (On the other hand, we also have a gun-loving Slayer in Buffy's book - Simone.)

2) Demon bar! Yay! It's been a while since we've seen one! It's great to get a look into the demon underworld again (that is, not the literal underworld as in The Chain), I think we haven't seen any of it since... BtVS season 7 and AtS season 4?

The idea about the Mohra blood being a hot commodity in the demon market is quite interesting. Plus, both Angel and the bad guys casually ripping out the demon's arm to get him to have to grow one. I like the way the series hasn't been pulling any punches when it comes to violence (though nothing tops the gruesome scene of Pearl and Nash's carnage from #1).

The info that, as a result of the end of magic, vampires are now the "stars" in the demon world (as opposed to being previously considered the 'gutter rats' by the other demons), makes their position in the new post-magic world quite interesting (vampires are now popular with the humans and have a high status in the demon world!). So how will they go from that to being nearly extinct in the future centuries, to the point that they're believed in Fray time to be mutants?

3) "I stabbed him and I nearly froze to death."
"I'm not surprised. There's nothing inside but a void."

This line about the demon sounds like it could metaphorically apply to Angel as well. Faith notices that the problem is not him getting off on violence - it's him not feeling anything. It calls back to season 5 when he felt that he was "empty" inside.

4) More Giles flashbacks! I see that they really meant it when they said he would be the 3rd most important character in the book. I agree with Giles' stance that one can't undo past mistakes and crimes, and the best you can do is try to do good from that moment on. It's something Spike got on his own, but Angel still doesn't, as seen in his boneheaded attempt to resurrect Giles.

5) There are also a few references to Angel's AtS storylines in the issue (Cordelia's death, I Will Remember You) and Faith's past on BtVS, and it's good to see Faith expressing guilt over the murder of Professor Worth, the vulcanologist she killed in season 3 on Mayor's orders. That murder really did get almost forgotten by everyone, including the fans.

Things that I didn't like/was bothered by:

Most of those come from Faith's narration, but I'm not sure how to feel about them, because it depends on whether we're supposed to take it as just Faith's opinions or statements of the fact.

"He's trying to undo the worst thing he ever did" - Killing Giles was the worst thing he ever did? Really? I don't see how it's worse than any other murder he committed, and even if you focus just on what he did when he had a soul (which Faith is probably doing, but which Angel never does - he always feels he needs to atone for his soulless crimes) he is still guilty of quite a few murders (e.g. Drogyn). Just in season 8, he had the 'spike' guy executed in Retreat, killed quite a few Slayers by bombing their headquarters, sacrificed a lot of human lives (both of Slayers and his own men) just in order to bring about Twilight's plan. Killing Giles may be worst to Faith because she knew and cared for Giles, and it might be particularly tormenting to Angel because he knew Giles as well and had done him wrong in the past, but if you asked Nadira, for instance, what the worst thing Angel did is, I'm sure she'd give a different answer. I hope that this isn't a sign that the series is only going to focus on Angel killing Giles, out of all his crimes in season 8 - which is the thing that he can most easily be excused for, since he was possessed. The real responsibility for Giles's death lays in the fact that it was a consequence of Angel agreeing to be Twilight.

"Angel's saved the world five or six times. Spent two lifetimes doing good. He made up for killing Giles before he even did it". - First off, saying that he spent two lifetimes doing good is a bit of an exaggeration to say the least - we didn't see an awful lot of Angel doing good before he met Buffy. Also, saving the world 5 or 6 times? That's quite generous, and can work only if you count the times he helped Buffy, but in that case, Xander is way ahead of Angel in world-saving credentials. But OK, none of this is technically incorrect*; what bothers me is the amount of exposition given to Faith, as if they're trying to remind the readers that Angel is not just this screw-up we see now, but that he used to be a hero helping the helpless etc., so they have Faith's narration going on about how awesome he is. There was already a hint of that in #1 ("he's a vampire with a soul" etc.) but it got to really worrying degree in #2. I hope that they don't continue with the habit of "tell, don't show" by having people comment on how great and heroic Angel is rather than actually showing him do something heroic.

* Christos Gage's reply:

Christosgage Christos Gage
Q: Faith thinks Angel spent two lifetimes doing good. How is that possible, he only started fighting the good fight after he met Buffy?
29 Sep

Christosgage Christos Gage
A: Angel fought Nazis in WWII, saved someone in the 20s, John Byrne drew him in World War I...he did good stuff before Buffy.
29 Sep

Christosgage Christos Gage
A: But yes, Faith is probably overstating matters.
29 Sep

Christosgage Christos Gage
@Ivana2804: But yeah, I think Angel has saved the world 5 or 6 times, if you count the times he helped Buffy save it.
30 Sep

Christosgage Christos Gage
@Ivana2804 @supephone: I do count the times Angel helped Buffy save the world...and you're right, the other Scoobies get credit too!
30 Sep

Christosgage Christos Gage
@MoscowWatcher: Faith just meant that Angel has lived as long as two lifetimes of a normal person. Sorry that wasn't clear!
1 Oct

But this is the part that's really bothersome: "He made up for killing Giles before he even did it".
I don't think it works like that. It's a morally off stance and calls back to Consequences when she used similar reasoning to justify herself for killing the deputy mayor ("How many lives have we saved? I think this puts you and me in the plus column"). She hasn't evolved that much morally, if she still thinks that the good you did in the past excuses the evil you do in the present. As if, if you've saved enough people before, you can now be excused for committing a murder or two. Granted, she's now more sympathetic since she's trying to excuse a friend rather than herself. Spike used a similar reasoning with Buffy in season 6 Dead Things, and for a similar motive (in that case, to prevent her for giving herself up to the police), but Buffy didn't take well to it, and it's still mentioned as an example that he couldn't understand her without a soul or value every human life.

I was relieved, though, to have Christos Gage confirm on Twitter that he doesn't agree with Faith's view and that it's just her trying to justify Angel, because he's her friend and she doesn't want him to get catatonic again.

Christosgage Christos Gage
@Ivana2804: I agree that you can't "make up" for future crimes. Keep in mind that is Faith talking. She sees Angel suffering...
30 Sep

Christosgage Christos Gage
@Ivana2804: ...and wants him to stop. But just as Angel is often too willing to punish himself, she's too willing to absolve him.
30 Sep

Christosgage Christos Gage
@Ivana2804: Having said that, the exercise I did in my twenties DOES make up for the brownie I'm going to eat today.
30 Sep

In that case, I think this could be a good thing for the series: that Faith still has to develop a lot when it comes to her ethics, and that we have not one, but two protagonists who haven't learned from their mistakes.

Speaking of which, apparently both Faith and Giles believed that killing bad people isn't that bad. Hm. OK, that's something I actually expect from Faith, not so sure about Giles.

Now, the whole resurrection thing... Angel thinks that Giles can be resurrected because he did magic?
That makes no sense, and Tara was much more versed in magic, and she couldn't be resurrected! This could go really well if Angel is meant to just be deluded about it... or really stupid, if he's meant to be right and this is a huge retcon.

I'm sure his attempt is not going to work - if it did, what would happen? Would Angel try to resurrect everyone else he ever killed and everyone he cared about that died (Cordy, Wes, Fred, Doyle...)? Would people be resurrecting their loved ones all over the place? Obviously, this plot can only 1) fail completely, or 2) lead to something very bad, and by that I don't mean "Giles is depressed for a year". It's made clear in the verse that people who died by a non-magical death cannot be resurrected properly (and Gage reiterates that in his interviews). So Giles would either end up as a zombie, or something similarly monstrous.

Angel and Faith say that people's bodies can be resurrected, but their "souls" can't because they move out of reach. I just hope that they aren't going to go for some "Giles comes back soulless". Hasn't the verse made enough of a mess out of the whole "soul" mythology already? One moment soul is just conscience, as with vampires and Buffy in Living Conditions, where a demon was sucking out her soul and she was just becoming meaner, then another they're talking about it as the equivalent of spirit/essence/consciousness, as when talking about Fred in season 5.

Again, here's what Gage tweeted:

Christosgage Christos Gage
For those like Wenxina who point out that Angel's description of why he could resurrect Giles would apply to other magic users like Tara too
29 Sep

Christosgage Christos Gage
You are right. Clearly Angel is deluded...or there's something he's not telling Faith...or the Watcher Files are exceptionally detailed.
29 Sep

A few other comments about minor things in this issue:

Faith wears a Batman T-shirt. Probably a detail Isaacs came up with, but a nice one.

Another Twilight joke. That's... nice, but I don't feel much about that one way or another, since season 8 already made a Twilight joke, so it's getting a bit old.

I thought Faith's comments about "missing an episode" and "missing an entire season" were getting a bit too meta. Like, more obviously meta than Spike's reply "Not this year" in Buffy #1 (who talks about seasons and episodes in real life?). On the other hand, Faith's comment that everyone is always forgetting about Professor Worth and just focusing on Deputy Finch is an example of a good meta line, because you can really imagine Faith saying that and referring to Giles and the Scoobies and the authorities, while it can also apply to the fans.

I'm not sure how to rate this issue - I might like it better or worse later on, depending on how the story develops from here. For now, I'm giving it a
rating of 3 out of 5.
This entry was originally posted at Comment here or there, as you like.

dark horse, joss whedon, comics, christos gage, angel and faith, rebekah isaacs

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