With Illyria appearing on the cover of the issue and everything, I expected her to be in it a whole lot more. Still, that problem aside, there’s a lot to enjoy in Angel & Faith #23. Although, having spent the last few issues so clearly gearing up for a finale, it seems kind of weird for this one to slow down as much as it does. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of good character work, but the developing Archaeus storyline is kind of abandoned after the first few pages.
Angel and Faith get a good talk about growth and how much more of a team player he is than he used to be, although that’s mostly at his insistence. The bonding moments between the two of them have been fewer this season, given that it took several issues just to get them back in the same place, so I’m glad to still have these quiet scenes between the two given that it’s their names in the title.
There are also a few nice moments with Nadira, really getting into her character in a way we haven’t seen much this season. Her relationship with the magic is explained much more clearly. She’s not in control of it, she never has been, she thought she could at least make it listen to her, but she can’t. And now she appears to be cut off or separated from it and has no idea what the magic is going to do without her guidance. This creates some great tension for the character and great new tension for the whole gang in general.
When we actually get scenes with our big villain, Archaeus, they’re not overly exciting. On both Buffy and Angel we always had big exposition scenes with the season’s bad guy, but even if the monster was brutish and took himself way too seriously, those scenes had an excellent sense of humor. None of that really comes through with Archaeus. I’m also starting to have a big problem with Drusilla’s characterization. Initially, I was so excited to have her back and to see her sticking around for so long, but if you’re going to bring a character like that back…do something with her. It’s a shame to see a character who’s often been referred to as the most complicated vampire in either series become a subservient second fiddle. By the end of the season, I’d really like to see her break free from that.
I’m also getting concerned as to what’s going to happen with Illyria. Seeing this character develop in the comics has been so great for me because she was introduced right before Angel was cancelled and never really got the chance to develop. Her characterization in season nine was excellent. As much as I wanted Illyria to come back, Buffy season nine definitely brought her to a respectful end that I thought was deserving and befitting to such a complex character. Since her return in Angel & Faith, since sharing a body with Fred, she’s completely different. It’s not even like Illyria’s returned to the way she was portrayed in Angel, it’s like she was returned to the way she was portrayed in her first episode of Angel.
As much as I’m enjoying the book overall and as much as I’m looking forward to where it’s going, I really do hope there’s a bigger plan in place for her character in particular.
WICKED RATING: [usr 6]