Angel & Faith #21 relies heavily on exposition for its early portions, which is somewhat understandable given that we are not in the final arc and setting everything up for the finale. Luckily, it manages to provide us with quite a few twists and turns to the overall story as well. Naturally, there are spoilers ahead for the issue, which goes on sale this week.
For the most part, the first half of the issue is focused on Angel and the team coming up with a plan. As the conversation builds, it’s clear that there’s something of a wall between Angel and Faith, one that leads to an argument and then taking the fight outside to have a long overdue discussion.
It’s been great to see team Angel and Faith reunited in the second half of this season. But they never really talked about Faith’s leaving. It was just sort of something Angel accepted and then when she returned he welcomed her back. She wasn’t even planning to stay, at first, but he was happy to have her back. Finally, though, everything has been laid on the table. Angel makes it clear that his feelings were below the surface and not even something he necessarily knew about on a conscious level and also—thankfully—makes it very clear that he does not resent Faith for leaving, but resents the fact that she had to leave.
What I especially like about this issue is the decision that writer Victor Gishler and the editing team elected not to make: If there was ever a time to actually pair Angel and Faith together as a romantic partnership, this is it. But that’s not what they’ve done. That’s not what the dynamic between these two characters has ever been about. While so many relationships grow and change, especially in this particular TV/comic universe, it’s important to have a few constant things. I would always like to see that bond between Angel and Faith be one of them.
Reaffirming the bond between the characters proves to be a very smart move, though, given the ending of the issue. There’s also a surprising twist in there revealing that Inspector Brandt is actually a vampire, although his scene itself feels almost forced. It raises a lot of questions I can’t wait to see addressed, too. Has Brandt been a vampire all along? How would a slayer and a vampire not pick up on that? It’s pretty obvious that he’s a part of this new breed of vampire, but it’s still fun to wait for some confirmation.
All in all, this was a fun issue. I still think Drusilla is underplayed, Illyria is still nowhere to be seen, so a few of my complaints still remain. But they’re clearly building toward something and I’m excited to see how things develop and how the season ends, especially with some of the reveals in this issue.
WICKED RATING: [usr 7]