Angel & Faith Issue 13 picks up right where it left off, which is handy, since Issue 12 saw our intrepid heroes (plus Connor, Willow and a somewhat creepy doggy demon) facing down the majority of Quor’toth in an attempt to rescue said doggy demon’s family. There’s slaying and demons and a little bit of magical badassery from Willow – but, mostly, there’s introspection and deep thoughts and character development. Somehow (and I’m defining that “somehow” as “due to the combined awesomeness of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs,” naturally) it works. It really, really works.
Faith resents Angel for dragging her into situations, messing up her life and pulling her down. She shakes it off as a result of Quor’toth messing with her head, but the result is twofold – she’s still fighting off her early-seasons Buffy attitude, trying to keep those urges at bay. Also interesting is that she thinks that that’s a struggle Angel himself constantly wars with. She shakes it off with a very Faith-y “Five by Five” before it’s time to stop moping, start killing.
Well, almost. Then it’s Connor’s turn to bring on the mope, possibly spurred on by Doggy Demon saying it would be his duty and honor to die in Connor’s name. Obviously, that’s going to weigh on a guy – so, as Connor slashes and hacks his way through demons, he ponders the amount of carnage that has been done in his name. As so often happens, this too becomes All About Angel, weaving from a very special (demony) moment to Faith’s proclamation that Angel is “crazy as a bag of badgers” (will I use that in everyday conversation now? You bet I will). There’s bonding. There’s love. There’s… an entire demony planet thing attempting to eat them. Awesome.
Your regularly scheduled Giant Demon Bearing Down Moment is interrupted, though, by a quick jaunt back to the proper dimension – namely, Angel’s London abode. Those pesky twins are back to their rascally hijinks – though, this time it’s Whistler who delivers down the smack and keeps them in line. I’d found Whistler annoying up to this point in Angel & Faith. I kind of liked him the few times he showed up in Buffy and was psyched to see him again – but up to this point, he’d just felt a bit off, a bit slimier than I remembered him. Sure, people change… demons change… whatever, but his character just wasn’t working for me.
And then he went all blue and angry and laid the serious smack down. And, lo, it was awesome indeed.
A little less awesome is his promise “to take humanity – the whole planet – to a higher state of being. The next step in our evolution.” That… there’s no way that’s going to work out well, is there? No, probably not. But, we’ll have to wait to see what Whistler has planned as he’s headed out, garbage bag-toting twins behind him.
Angel & Faith Issue 13 ends back on Quor’toth, with our heroes – and a few more Doggy Demons – about to get squashed by Quor’toth itself.
Angel, master of emotional manipulation, pushes Willow to protect them, hitting upon all of the Rosenberg points of immediate angst: Think about what’s at stake! Think about what it’s like to be powerless! Think about how much you hate it! And ask yourself- how is that any different than where you are right now?
In an immediate response to Angel’s act of jerkishness (however well intentioned), Issue 13 ends with one of the greatest images imaginable: Willow’s terrified transformation back to Dark Willow.
Oh, how I love thee, Dark Willow. I cannot begin to count the ways. I’ve admitted it before – I like characters when they’re just a little bit broken, just a little bit overwhelmed by themselves, a little bit out of control (though, I don’t suppose flaying Warren counts as only “a little bit” out of control, but go with me here). And that it was Angel’s encouragement that pushed Willow over the edge? Oh, he’ll be able to brood off of that for years.
This last panel is amazing – not just because of what’s happened to Willow (though that is, obviously, amazing) but because of how perfectly Isaacs captures it. Willow’s big-eyed innocence, her broken crouch… those glorious blacked-out eyes and just the hint of creepy Dark Willow veins. Yes. Everything about this is awesome. This has me excited not just for upcoming Angel & Faith issues, but for the Willow miniseries – and the reverberations of these events in the rest of the Dark Horse Buffy-verse books.