You kept reading. I am absolved of all responsibility from here on out.
Last issue ended with a doozy of a cliffhanger: the remaining Slayers who were following Faith turned on her when one of their own died. They approached a mystical gentleman who would be able to help them restore her to life. That person: Rupert Giles. Now wait, wasn’t the whole purpose of this season for Angel to gain redemption and bring Giles back to life? Why, yes, yes it was. But it appears Giles is already back.
This issue is a great balance of what’s going on now alongside of flashbacks to the past, which is what various episodes of the Angel TV series was great at. However, instead of seeing Angel, Spike, Dru and Darla wreaking havok on small, unsuspecting European villages, we see a young Rupert “Ripper” Giles hanging out with his good friend Ethan Rayne. Giles, in his punk rocker phase, still has some mastery over magic (moreso than Ethan) and uses it from time to time to stop lesser creatures. Until of course they come across a major one…
Seeing Angel and Faith come to terms with what’s happened is expected. The Slayers abandoned Faith as they believe she betrayed them by her association with Angel. Faith explains (finally) why she is with Angel through all of this – to pay him back for his support when she needed it. But the fact that she had to lie to the girls… This makes them even. No matter what, they need to bring Giles back. But his body is missing from his coffin, so it’s down to detective work to figure out who took it and when. And who better to help than Giles’ own sisters, Sophie and Lavinia. After looking through the guest list at Giles’ funeral, there is a name scrawled that Angel cannot read but sister Giles can read it: Ethan Rayne.
Ethan, though, died before Giles did, with a bullet in his head. Twilight had Ethan killed by a military officer under his command. Generally, a bullet to the head will kill anyone… but this is the Buffyverse. But, it turns out, even dead that didn’t stop Ethan from coming to Giles’ funeral and, it seems, absconding with the body sometime between the funeral and the burial. Giles is back, same as Ethan, and several others as they proceed to resurrect the slain Slayer. But, as it turns out, the Slayer is still dead – her body is just re-animated. It’s not your typical zombie, either; no, they can talk and still look human. Their wounds are still there, though, and when the Slayers confront them Dead Giles is able to pull an Exorcist and his head goes back 180 degrees and the battle begins with your typical zombie and these new human-zombies. The leader of the Slayer faction,Nadira, senses something is off and proceeds to a locked door in the room… only to encounter the demon Eyghon who is behind everything. (Oh, and Ethan Rayne.)
Once again, Christos Gage does not disappoint in the story. Where some of the other stories in Season 9 are so fantastical that they could only ever be in a comic, this story arc (and, indeed, most of this title) could easily be an actual TV season. It’s that good. The mannerisms are down, the feelings and the anger is all there from Faith… Christos Gage must have loved the show a lot in order to become this familiar with what was going on.
Rebekah Isaacs has done an amazing job again. Although her style is not a mimicry of what the actors themselves look like, it is consistent from issue to issue so you know who you are looking at. Plus, certain mannerisms in the body positions indicate that she, too, must have been a fan as there are just all these little nuances that come out to long-time Whedonites.
Although I rarely give props to it, the cover by Steve Morris (shown above) is great. Here we get some of the detail of the show actors, specifically with Buffy and Faith around Giles’ grave. But we also see Ethan Rayne front and center. Although this does give away a WTF moment from within the book, it’s enough that the face may look familiar but you haven’t been able to place it just yet. Until the first page.
Another great read, and I’ll be honest: I’m liking this book as my favorite of the Buffy family right now. This is one that I would recommend if you’re a fan of the series as Gage has really nailed the spirit I remember from the show.