SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for “Angel & Faith” #22.
Things are looking up, sort of, on the eve of the apocalypse!
Issue #22 of Dark Horse Comics’ “Angel & Faith,” written by Christos Gage and featuring art by Rebekah Isaacs, picks up right where #21 left off: Angel, Faith, Alasdair Coames and the Fairweather sisters set in motion a resurrection spell designed to bring fallen Watcher Rupert Giles back to the land of the living. However, just as the spell is hit its climax, Whistler, Pearl and Nash burst in, interrupting the proceedings, throwing a few punches and absconding with Coames’ stash of mystical artifacts.
The series continues its trek towards the Season 9 finale with issue #22, which while relatively light on outright action focuses on character building and the slow build towards the inevitable big clash. In this installment of BEHIND BUFFY SEASON 9, Gage discusses the decision making process around Giles’ resurrection, and how it might be affecting the rest of the “Angel & Faith” crew.
CBR News: Issue #22 opens with Angel, Faith, Alasdair and the Fairweathers attempting to salvage their resurrection spell after the interruption from Whistler, Pearl and Nash at the conclusion of the last issue. We see a little of each character’s memory of Giles, and most of them, it seems, are bent on this resurrection out of some sense of guilt over past failure. Would Giles himself approve of the use of this type of magic being driven by guilt?
Christos Gage: No, probably not. He’d want them focusing all their energy on stopping Whistler and company. He likely wouldn’t have approved of Willow resurrecting Buffy, either. But that’s not to say he’s not happy to have her back, or unhappy to have been saved from Eyghon. Then again, he’s not entirely thrilled with how things turned out for him, either.
Faith is the exception to this — she isn’t thinking of failure, but instead of her need for Giles in her life. Faith has come a long way since her first appearance. In what ways would you say she’s grown over the course of this Season, and where might her character arc be leading her?
I think Faith has grown more than any other character in the Buffyverse — of course, she started out setting the bar pretty low! One big step for her is realizing, as she does this issue, that she’s come to a point where she doesn’t need a father figure in her life — not the Mayor, not her own biological father, not Giles. She’s come to a point where she’s capable and independent on her own. But, as Giles points out, that doesn’t negate the pain of not having, and never having had, the father figure she deserved. She’s realized that she has to grieve in order to move past it. As for her overall character arc, keep reading!
And then, oh man — the results of the spell are revealed: Giles has come back in a twelve-year-old’s body! What?
That was Joss [Whedon]. We started out Season 9 with different opinions about the outcome of the resurrection. Scott was leaning toward our heroes failing to bring Giles back, but learning something about themselves in the journey and accomplishing other important things. Joss and I both wanted the resurrection to work, but not quite as planned. My thought was that Giles should come back as Ripper, but Joss felt he should be a kid, and while I wouldn’t presume to speak for Joss as to his reasons why, I can now see a really good reason Giles shouldn’t have come back as Ripper: he’d be too close in age to the other characters, which, even if we never went there, opens up the uncomfortable possibility of Giles in romantic entanglements with female characters to whom he’s always been a father or mentor. Initially there was talk of Giles being in a 10-year-old body, as he was in the flashback we saw in issue 5, but Joss then suggested 12 years old. That’s great, because it puts him on the cusp of adolescence, so while the idea of any actual nookie with other characters is off the table, we get the raging hormones of a 12-year-old male body, which makes things as awkward as possible for everyone, which is always fun.
The idea of Giles coming back as Ripper-era Rupert reminds me of the episode in which adult Giles reverted to his swaggering Ripper persona and had an affair with Buffy’s mom (relationships get complicated so easily!). There is, I think, a thread that runs through the Buffy storylines that has to do with false appearances, or contradictions between appearances and actuality.
Yeah, I think that episode may be another reason why Joss didn’t want to go with young adult Ripper — we’ve kind of been there. But we do have a lot of people in the Buffyverse who are different than they appear, from the vampires to the great-aunts.
As everyone is trying to wrap their heads around what has happened, they are all having slightly different reactions. How would you say everyone is handling the transformation?
Everyone has their own take. Giles’ Great-Aunts think it’s wonderful — they regard Giles as an adorable little living dress-up doll who is no longer wrinkled and old, which they see as a fate worse than death. Angel is just thrilled that he was able to undo one of the horrible mistakes he’s made — any other implications haven’t really hit him. Alasdair is kind of the opposite: he had been advocating against the resurrection, but it worked, and now he feels bad he wanted his good friend to stay dead, even though that’s what Giles would have advocated. Faith, we discuss above and below. As for Giles, his life has been turned upside down. He still has the memories and knowledge of his middle-aged former self, but with the physical body of a 12-year-old, which is more than just an outward appearance. Grant Morrison once wrote a great chapter of “Zenith” in which a scientist is rapidly aging backwards, and it’s narrated by his journal entries as he hits different life stages. The one where he’s an adolescent talks about how overwrought everything seems, and he’s displaying the sullen rebelliousness of a teenager, even though he still has the same knowledge and memories of this man in his sixties or seventies. So Giles has to adjust to more than just being shorter; there’s this hormone soup running through his veins skewing everything, and that means more than just involuntary boners; it means impulsiveness and emotion and all manner of other things. He’s kind of the same person, but he’s also not.
Rebekah has done an amazing job of channeling adult Giles through this young body. The character design and, especially, the body language are very apt.
Damn right. She is amazing. I think this is an instance where her talent has done something a TV show couldn’t have done, and that’s have a twelve year old kid who looks and acts exactly like Anthony Steward Head playing a middle-aged Giles stuck in a young Giles’ body. Now stop talking about how great our artist is before someone offers her a truckload of money to go work with them!
Giles and Faith have a fairly intense conversation up on the rooftop. Suddenly, that Father-figure relationship Faith wanted has been perversely inverted. What does this inversion mean for their relationship?
It’s sad in that Faith wanted the best father figure she ever had back and she didn’t get him, but the silver lining is that this pushes her to the realization Giles articulates well: she doesn’t need that. She’s become her own woman, an adult, who can stand on her own. Where the Faith/Giles relationship goes from here remains to be seen, but it’ll be different than it was before.
Giles has been left feeling unsure of what his role is now, or what shape is life will be taking. He tells Faith that, in fact, none of the team really needed him back as he was, and in conversation with Alasdair it’s speculated that there may be a reason for his returning in this state. What might that reason be? Is there a cosmic need for a tween Giles?
No, not so much cosmic as personal. Alasdair is saying the reason is that Giles himself had that question in his mind about “What if I could start over and do this instead,” with “this” being enter the Watcher Academy at twelve instead of nine or ten. So his great-aunts, who wanted a re-do, were imagining him as he was when they brought out his magic talent at ten and he had to go be a Watcher before he was ready, and Giles resisted becoming that frightened boy again, picturing himself instead at twelve, and that’s how he ended up.
As the team is making plans and preparations to find and take out Whistler, Pearl and Nash, Giles asks everyone to remain focused on the task at hand, in the event that he or anyone else die in combat. This brings up the question: should they have put so much energy into Giles’ resurrection in the first place?
Probably not, but when has this group ever done what they should? One thing we didn’t want to do was have Giles travel the same journey Buffy did after her resurrection, so don’t look for him to experience a similar existential crisis about having been awoken from his eternal reward — but given that in his particular case his soul was enslaved to Eyghon, that wasn’t likely anyway.
As the team crashes Whistler’s world-ending party, we get a glimpse of yet another potential wrench in the gears. Is that Nadira following behind Angel and Faith, with vengeance on her mind?
It’s definitely Nadira. As for what’s on her mind, vengeance is a pretty safe bet — but against who?