I’ve been a Buffy fan basically since it began, despite being about seven, and was as thrilled as I could be when Buffy Season Eight was announced, the comic book continuation of the show. I’ve followed the Buffy comics since then, Angel & Faith carrying on from Season Eight centring on the two title characters who have now relocated to London and set themselves on a special mission. Spoilers for Season Eight will follow, including many shocking twists.
Buffy Season Eight centred on the villain of Twilight, a being from another dimension that possessed Angel and attempted to use him to destroy our reality, by stealing the seed, the source of all magic in our world, creating a new one in the process. Buffy’s Watcher Giles stepped in between Buffy and Angel during their climatic battle, and Twilight broke his neck to teach Buffy a lesson. Buffy fed up with all the crap she has gone through smashed the seed, pulling Twilight out of our reality but also removing all magic from the world – except in the case of people who have magic inside them like vampires and slayers.
Giles left Faith all his worldly possessions and Faith took Angel in, as he had once helped her when she was going through a dark period. Angel blames himself for Giles’ death and sets himself the task of bringing him back. Of course this is made even harder by the fact that magic no longer exists, making Angel’s mission seem impossible. Meanwhile an old friend of Angel is trying to restore magic with the help of crazy demon twins, regardless of the consequences to the human race.
Thankfully Faith isn’t a bit-player in the story, having her own role to play. In between seasons eight and nine she has worked to help wayward slayers, setting up a sort of help group. When Angel asks her help on his mission, she all but abandons her new friends, deciding that it is her job to take him down if he goes too far. One of the slayers, Nadira, had her pack of slayers slaughtered by Twilight during season eight and she wants vengeance against Angel, forcing Faith to keep him hidden throughout the series.
Despite being dead, Giles also has a role in the story, with his past being explored through Angel reading his diaries, offering new insights into his background. We are also introduced to Giles’ great-aunts who have used magic to remain young and beautiful. They are fickle, unusual and frankly brilliant.
Christos Gage writes both characters incredibly well. It seems effortless the way he evokes their voices from the TV show. He also brings back elements from the show without making the callbacks seem like a way to please fans, not that they don’t. The first storyarc centres on the blood of a demon from Angel, who once made Angel human. He hopes that this blood can have the same effect on Giles, but it won’t be as simple as that. Drusilla is brought back, with her madness healed, making her an even more powerful threat.
In one of the strongest storylines of the season, Willow shows up on the duo’s doorstep promising them help if they take her to the hell dimension of Quor-Toth, where Angel’s son Connor was raised. They return to Los Angeles and bring Connor along for the ride, as he knows the land. Quor-Toth has an adverse effect on humans, corrupting their thoughts and slowly turning them against one another. Things are made even more difficult when Willow finds herself becoming her evil alter-ego due to all the dark magic she has absorbed while in the reality. The story tests the loyalty of Angel and Faith’s partnership and also sets up a great miniseries for Willow.
The artwork throughout is fantastic, offered for the most part by Rebekah Isaacs. She is able to bring her own style to the series but at the same time keep all the character likenesses realistic and true to form. In the aforementioned Quor-Toth storyline, she creates a fantastic looking demon who is the ruler of the dimension. The design is terrifying, featuring an exposed brain, with the creature itself being incredibly large in size.
The tight focus on Angel’s mission helps prevent the series from losing its way, which season eight definitely did towards the end. Through its 25 issues it has been one of the most consistent comics I have ever read. Its ending also does not disappoint, putting a surprising twist on what could have been a straight forward plot. The villain’s plot to restore magic in their own way builds incredibly slowly but has a big pay off in the end. The ending places the characters in a totally different place than where they began and I will be interested to see where they end up in Buffy’s tenth season with it being revealed that Gage at least will return to write.