It’s been building for 2 years and now the end has arrived. 2 years ago the Buffyverse coalesced into one universe with Angel making the jump from IDW over to Dark Horse and we now had all of Joss Whedon’s characters under one publishing umbrella. Even though Angel appeared in Buffy Season 8 (yes, it’s a comic, but it’s treated as a season to continue on from the show) he had a self-titled book happening over at IDW as well so crossovers and direct linking between the series was problematic. But when that contract expired, all of Whedon’s Buffy characters coalesced into the Dark Horse realm and we were given 2 series that made up the Season 9 universe: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and Faith.
I’m sad to say that this series of Angel and Faith has now hit its final issue with this one, #25. It has been a great run and has had its ups and downs, but now that it’s done I can say that this series has been like a season of the TV series. It has had its ups, and it has had its downs. But when you bring it all together, it is most definitely leaning towards being something great. Many of the plotlines are tied up here, as they were when the series hit a season finale, and even though it’s the final issue of the series that’s how we should see it: a season finale. It’s not the end, period; it’s the end, for now.
This issue wrapped up the storyline that encompassed the majority of this series since it came to pass: the resurrection of Giles, the Watcher who died as a result of Angel in Season 8. We’ve encountered a number of new characters as this series has run its course, including allies Lavinia and Sophronia as well as villains Pearl and Nash. All have played their own part in the conclusion of this series which ends with a lot of death and destruction, and just a tad craziness with magic seeming to appear everywhere (see recent issues of Buffy for what’s going on there).
Christos Gage has truly proven that he understands who the characters are. If he wasn’t an immense fan of the show and the other comics in the family I would be immensely surprised – only someone who has some in-depth understanding of who these people are should really be able to get the characters down as well as he does. From Angel’s willingness to sacrifice himself where necessary to Faith coming of age and realizing that she can stand on her own, it’s perfect. We even get to see her anger and disappointment at one point when it’s made clear that she isn’t the only one out there who’s important – a small slap in the face that ruffles her feathers. I think the best praise for that scene is that I could totally see Eliza Dushku being like that on-screen and I could hear the hurt, pain and anger in her voice, but still helping even though it hurts her. Well done, Mr Gage, well done.
Rebekah Isaacs has ended this series off amazingly. In many comics, we see outfits shift from issue to issue but even though he’s wearing his signature trenchcoat, we see the wear and tear on it from issue to issue. This consistency is what makes a creative team really work for the reader over issues – consistency. Her style is a little cartoony at times in the faces, but that’s OK; the Buffyverse is a fantasy series and with the dark overtones this book tends to have a little lightheartedness is more than welcome. I can see David Boreanaz in Angel’s face; I can see Eliza Dushku in Faith’s face. Hell, I can even see Anthony Head in Giles, and with the changes for the character that’s saying a hell of a lot. (Ok, I see a lot less in Giles than the other characters, but like I said with Mr Gage, Ms Isaacs must also have a love for these characters as just the stance and how the characters visually hold themselves can only come from a series fan.)
As a series ending goes, this was a great one. There was close to this series, which operated in parallel with its sibling title, but did not require a “TO BE CONTINUED IN” which forced readers to jump to that title. This was a standalone series which could be read on its own, but could be enjoyed even more if reading Buffy as well as the Willow and Spike miniseries that were published during this book’s tenure. And although we are nearing the end of the Season 9 stories, we know that Season 10 is just around the corner. We don’t know what form it will take just yet, but it is coming. And I am looking forward to when season 10 shows up on my shelves.