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BEHIND BUFFY SEASON 9: Gage Builds Bonds in “Angel & Faith”

by  in Comic News Comment
BEHIND BUFFY SEASON 9: Gage Builds Bonds in “Angel & Faith”

“But it’s a valid point: can these two damaged people help each other without dragging each other — and themselves — down in the process?”

December’s issue #5 features guest artist Phil Noto and very special guest star Harmony, who had a big impact on human/vampire relations during “Buffy Season 8,” but hasn’t had much direct contact with the series’ leads in Season 8 or 9 so far. It was Harmony, of course, who brought vampires into the spotlight in her reality television program, winning a PR battle against the Slayers that has cast the bumpy-forehead crew in a positive light. Now, however, like any reality star, she’s paying the price of fame. “Harmony needs help from Angel & Faith in quashing an impending scandal that could threaten her status as the celebrity face of new human/vampire relations,” Gage told CBR. “As much as our heroes find Harmony vapid, shallow and annoying, they realize that making the volatile post-magic situation worse by threatening the standing of the world’s top vampire icon is not in anyone’s interest.

“Oh, and three words: Harmony sex tape.”

The Harmony issue also sees an appearance from Clem, the amiable floppy-eared demon. Asked what Clem has been up to since fans saw him last, Gage said he’s pretty much just soldiering on. “Well, when we last saw him, he was Harmony’s best friend and trusty sidekick, doing the heavy lifting for her with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. And that’s still what he’s up to!” As to why he wanted to tell a story with Clem, Gage replied, “Why wouldn’t I? He’s just so lovable!”

With Harmony and Clem on board, issue #5 looks to be more lighthearted fare than the first arc, a shift in tone reflected in a change in visual style as Phil Noto steps in to relieve series artist Rebekah Isaacs for the month. “Phil is a big fan of the Whedonverse and has built a strong fan following for his beautiful depictions of various Joss-created characters,” Gage said. “He’s also a brilliant talent who does a great job with the humor in this issue. Even Harmony’s dogs get loving attention in every panel!”

After this brief interlude, things get a little complex. Drusilla makes her return in issue #6, as does “a deadly, new kind of demon with ties to Giles’ past,” Gage told CBR. “Also, Faith’s father — who has never been shown before — returns to her life, and you can bet that’s not going to be a simple situation. But the ‘Daddy Issues’ referred to in the title also allude to the relationship between Drusilla and her sire, Angel. Drusilla knows him like few others do, and will reveal to readers a major part of Angel’s plan to resurrect Giles — a part that will potentially cause huge problems down the road.”

Gage also told fans to expect the unexpected from Drusilla in this arc. “I think fans will be very surprised by Dru. You’ll see her in a way you haven’t seen her before. That’s not hype, it’s fact!” he said. “And yes, she’s a great deal of fun to write.”

The solicitation text for #6 describes an illness that turns ordinary humans into killers, and readers have already seen that things work a bit differently in this post-magic world — what once may have been a miracle turns into an unspeakable horror when drained of mystical properties, with a demon blood panacaea Angel had sought in the opening arc being a clear example. As to the nature of this latest threat, Gage played things close to the vest. “There are different kinds of illnesses. That’s all I can say about that without giving too much away.”

Since Angel returned to Dark Horse’s Whedonverse in “Buffy Season 8,” not much has been seen of the extended supporting cast he developed over the five seasons of his own television show and which carried over into Angel’s comics run at IDW. But, Gage said, that is about to change. “In future stories, you will see Connor and at least one more old friend from the ‘Angel’ TV show,” the writer said, “as well as a couple of characters Joss had planned to use in the proposed ‘Ripper’ TV series but has been generous enough to let us play with instead!” (“Ripper” would have been a spinoff television series with Giles in the starring role.)

“I just want to say that I’m tremendously gratified — and I know the entire creative team feels the same way — by the wonderful response we’ve received for this book,” Gage said in closing. “I know how much these characters mean to people and how important it is that they be treated right. I am thankful and humbled by the fact that most readers seem to feel we are giving them their due. From a personal standpoint, I feel like I was still feeling my way during the first arc and didn’t really find my groove until issue 5, so I thank the readers for their kindness and patience and hope you agree that it only gets better from here!”

“Angel & Faith” #5 is on sale December 28.