As Dark Horse Comics’ “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel & Faith” enter the final arcs of “Season 9,” the world is in dire straights. While the Siphon keeps Buffy’s crew occupied, Buffy watches her sister Dawn fade from the world. Meanwhile, Angel and Faith are desperately trying to resurrect Rupert Giles and prevent Whistler, Pearl and Nash from establishing a veritable Hell on Earth.
“Angel & Faith” #21 marks the beginning of the end for its “Season 9” run, and is written by Christos Gage with art by Rebekah Isaacs; the issue is the calm before the storm, as things begin to escalate and the story focuses in on character and dialogue. Angel has a plan, but in order for it to succeed he must convince everyone around him to risk the chance of utter failure — and resurrection spells in the Buffy-verse rarely go as planned.
In the latest installment of BEHIND BUFFY SEASON 9, CBR News spoke with Gage about issue #21, looking at the developments of the chapter and what they might mean as the series moves toward its conclusion. In the end, Gage hints, it won’t go well for all those involved.
CBR News: Christos, issue #21 seems more focused on character building and dialog than out-and-out action. What sort of tone were you hoping to strike with this chapter?
Christos Gage: I think the action only matters if we care about the characters it’s happening to. We are beginning the culmination of the quest Angel started on in issue #1 and however it turns out, it has to mean something to those concerned. That’s why I wanted to make sure to explore where everyone stands and how they feel.
Angel reveals his plan to use the Lazarene Incantation to restore Giles’ soul to his body, tapping a magic artifact for its energy — a trick he picked up from Whistler. Faith appears a little uneasy with this approach. How right is she to doubt this plan?
If history is any indication, Angel has a tendency to jump right into the deep end in order to accomplish a goal, so Faith has reason to be concerned. But just because a villain thought of something doesn’t mean it won’t work. The bad side is, if it works for Angel, it’ll work for Whistler — and two billion people could die.
Faith gets a phone call from Buffy and learns of Dawn’s failing health. What is going through Spike’s mind as he learns of Dawn’s illness? Also, Dawn seems to be fading from Angel and Faith’s memory — is this something akin to her fading from Xander’s photographs?
Yes it is. Angel and Faith had less of a bond with Dawn — in fact, I’m not sure Angel’s ever met her for “real” — so as the spell that gave Dawn life slowly unravels, it’s only natural that they would forget her before Spike. Spike always had a special relationship with Dawn, and genuinely cares for her, almost as a big brother. He hears she’s in danger, that magic’s involved and he sees Angel and Faith don’t remember her. So rather than waste time trying to remind them — and perhaps recognizing they have a big thing of their own to deal with — he hurries back to San Francisco without wasting any time, to see what he can do.
At first, Alasdair is adamantly opposed to Angel’s resurrection plan, feeling his motivations are based largely in self-interest. What sparks his change of heart?
He realizes two things. One, that Angel and Faith aren’t going to give up, and without Alasdair’s help, both they and the world stand a much worse chance of surviving. And second, he finally admits that he misses Giles too.
Giles’ great-aunts also seem hesitant to go along with Angel’s plan. Sophronia, in particular, seems to expect the worst. What is stopping them from halting the plan?
They want him back, simple as that. They just want to be ready if it all goes wrong — but they’re ready to take the chance.
As Whistler, Pearl and Nash burst into the mansion to steal Coames’ artifacts, they interrupt the resurrection spell. It seems Angel’s resurrection plan not only may have failed, but also tipped the evil trio off to a huge source of power. What has Angel really set in motion, here?
That remains to be seen! But you’re right, it was the energy of the powerful resurrection spell that caught the bad guys’ notice — something that active and strong can’t be hidden by the same artifact Alasdair used to conceal his collection.
Rebekah Isaacs has been bringing some great, nasty beasts to the page, but in this issue we really see her character-drama skills shine. This is most noticeable when Alasdair has his change of heart — his body language and expression moves from trepidation, to sadness to something like fear and anger. In developing these scenes, how much direction do you give? Does she just take the script and run with it?
Pretty much. Sometimes I’llÂ say how the character feels, or more often just let her interpret that based on the dialogue. She’s so amazing with character acting I would be doing us all a disservice to try to micromanage it. Having written both TV and comics, the one thing TV does better is let you be subtler with the dialogue and let the actors act: use the skills and emotions of a real person. Rebekah comes the closest to making two-dimensional characters on a page into real people than any artist I’ve ever worked with. And if you think she did a hell of a job this issue, wait until the next one!
With #21, we’ve entered the final arc of “Angel and Faith.” Will everyone we see going into this arc make it out the other side?
No. Two characters will not survive.
“Angel and Faith” #21 is available now from Dark Horse Comics