Volume 1 of Season 9 from Angel & Faith looks back at the limbo Earth was caught in when the link to the magical realm was severed (the link that Buffy and Angel severed in Buffy: Season 8). This volume is broken down into four chapters: Live Through This, In Perfect Harmony, Daddy Issues and Women Of A Certain Age. Each chapter contains sub-chapters to help break up this nearly 290 page collection! While it is certainly like reading a medium sized novel the story keeps you entertained so well that by the time you reach the end you are left wanting more.
Let’s start with a quick overview of chapter one: Live Through This. This chapter delves into the death and life of Giles. If you have not read Season 8 then this may come as a shock: Angel kills Giles. Now he HAD to kill Giles, the Watcher was being controlled by one very dark immortal who intended to hatch some very dastardly plans. Unfortunately, Giles death had a profound impact on Angel and with the vampire combating morality due to the return of his soul that impact has driven Angel to a dangerous Obsession. What obsession? Angel wants to resurrect Giles WITHOUT magic. Enter Faith. She thinks that Angel’s motives are pure but foresees this path of resurrection as one of imminent danger. Faith struggles with her personal feelings for Angel, her feelings for Giles and the sudden reliance that so many others in this series now have on her. Mix all these emotions and ideas with the blood of Mohra demon well…things get interesting. I won’t share much more because I feel that this volume is worth the read but I WILL divulge one thing: Nash and Pearl make a return and they are all sorts of pissed off.
Page 102 marks the volume’s transition to Chapter 2: In Perfect Harmony. Before I started reading this chapter I knew one thing: it was going to focus on Harmony – one of the most annoying and uppity vampires the Buffy and Angel series have to offer. Thankfully, this chapter is a short one. It begins with Angel and Faith reading the Watcher Files in an attempt to gain insight on ways to revive Giles, when there is an unexpected knock at their front door. Cue Harmony. Blonde, bouncy, full of life…wait, unlife? Something like that. She is like the Paris Hilton of the vampire world and she thrives off of the attention. So why is she bothering Angel and Faith? Apparently she has angered one of her fans and he or she has sent Harmony a copy of a sex tape where she sires a vampire. Seeing as to how Harmony is now the face of “Veggie Vampires”, siring a vampire would ruin her career. It’s an old tape and she regrets creating it which is where Angel and Faith come in: Harmony wants to find out who sent her the tape, why they sent it and shut them down. Their first target are Vampire Supremacists who see humans as Caprisun pouches waiting to be punctured. When that lead falls through they are forced to go through an immensely long list of Harmony “haters”. Days of meetings, beatings and greetings still turn up nothing but love for Harmony. In this moment of doubt the perpetrator reveals himself from a most unexpected place. If you have read any part of Season 10 you know who I am talking about but if you haven’t, pick up the comic for a surprise you will either enjoy or scoff.
Transitioning into Chapter Three: Daddy Issues. The story takes a darker turn to focus on Giles past encounter with a Lorophage demon: a demon that feeds on your memories until there is nothing left of you. Skip ahead a few decades and the hibernation cycle of said demon comes full circle only Giles isn’t around to save the day. Suspicion of demonic activity in London comes about when Faith is fighting off a “vampire” after he bites his girlfriend. Examination of the man reveals him as nothing more than just that: a man. Faith takes this tidbit to Angel who reveals some concerns from an experience with a crazed man who insisted he was cutting the “disease” out of elderly folks in a retirement center. The two realize that their stories sound similar to a story in the Watcher Files that describe imminent insanity in survivors of Lorophage attacks. The two put their heads together and determine that a vampire going by the name of “Mother Superior” may be using her hypnosis to control the Lorophage demon Giles references in his files. What they discover is far more complicated than they could have ever surmised. It is here where we are introduced to Drusilla: one of Angel’s sirelings. Once mad with the broken mind he gave her she is know calm and at peace, the Lorophage under her control has taken all bad memories away. If only things were as good as Drusilla preached. The story takes some unexpected turns and can be a bit complicated to follow but it is one of my favorites in this volume. It reveals how much torment Angel and Faith struggle with; how they friendship keeps them from falling into insanity’s abyss.
The final Chapter is a bit more light-hearted. Women Of A Certain Age introduces the reader to Giles estranged Great Aunts: Sohpronia and Lavinia. They have come to his estate (now Faith’s estate) seeking aid from Angel and Faith. After some conversation and a few stories to convince the two that Sophronia and Lavinia really are related to Giles they receive a slew of surprise guests. Demons that the Aunts made deals with when they had magic are now demanding the two pay up. Some demons were promised a soul, some were promised body parts – these are all quickly slain by Faith and Angel who are merely attempting to defend Giles’ estate. One very lucky demon was promised a kiss from Lavinia. As payback for they unannounced visit, Angel and Faith force Lavinia to honor her agreement with that demon. The show entertains one demon so much that he calls off his attack to enjoy the creative way in which the demon is “tonguing” Lavinia. After reducing Giles’ front entrance to rubble the two confront the Aunts on their decision to visit. It would seem they know Angel is attempting to resurrect Rupert and they brought with them an object that contains a piece of his soul. As the bearer of Giles’ soul fractions, Angel gladly accepts the gift. There is some banter on beauty from the Aunts before the retire for the night, leaving the slayer and vampire dumbfounded by the events of the day.
Despite the breadth of plot lines covered in this volume it really feels like a short read (short as in it took me about 2 hours to get through…lol). The art work is lovely and the end of the volume includes some great concept work. If you want a comic that lasts more than fifteen minutes pick up Season 9, Volume 1 and prepare yourself for an adventure into all things demonic and pure…yes, pure. I know, weird pairing but somehow it works. Read hard and party on fellow fan girls!
Angel & Faith: Season 9 is available today from Dark Horse Comics.