Despite how much I've been enjoying "Angel & Faith" thus far, I was hesitant about this issue -- even with the always exceptional Phil Noto as guest artist -- since it guest-starred arguably my least favorite Buffy Universe character, Harmony. Those fears were averted however, as Christos Gage and Noto do great work delivering a fun issue that manages to keep things moving forward while still taking a little breather.
In "Angel & Faith" #5, Harmony Kendall, considered (at least by herself) to be the most famous vampire in the world, seeks out Angel's help as a former investigator. Harmony, a reality show darling, and a vampire with the fairly ethical (or at least acceptable) stance that vampires should not kill or sire humans, is being blackmailed with a sex tape in which she sires a vampire. This tape was made before her reformation and she fears it will ruin her if it gets out (even though she made the tape herself as a possible way to keep herself in the limelight when her reality show got canceled). Angel and Faith have a pretty good time trying to detective their way through the mystery (though mostly they bust heads). The resolution is as silly and obvious as Harmony is, but it works in the same way that Harmony as a character works.
I credit Gage on the success of this charming and completely enjoyable little standalone tale. More importantly, however, I credit Gage with finding a great voice for Harmony that feels accurate to the television character, but somehow superior to what we generally saw there. She's funnier here (even though she, of course, has no idea how funny she is) and Gage smartly gives Harmony her own little tale instead of just a few good lines. Gage finds a perfect balance between the character that you want to kill for being such a vapid idiot, and the character that speaks a surprising amount of truth in their naked observation. In her way Harmony is a truth teller, and those are always interesting characters because they turn things around in interesting ways for our main protagonists, who generally cannot afford to be truth tellers. The effect on both Angel and Faith in this issue raises the bar on the book and allows it to be more than just a throwaway.
For his part, Phil Noto delivers fantastic visuals, as usual. His style is not as representative of the actors as series artist Rebekah Isaacs -- his Harmony looks nothing like actress Mercedes McNab -- but it works, nonetheless. His storytelling is clean and blissfully easy to read, and he's one of the most consistent artists around, a rare and precious thing in comics. Noto's bright immaculate style is a perfect fit for Gage's light story. Dan Jackson's colors are a poppy flat execution that have clearly considered the tone and spirit of this story, which is different than the four issues that preceded it. As a team, everyone is paying exceptional attention to what they're doing and the results are simply great comics.
"Angel & Faith" continues to barrel through as one of the best and surprising new books out there. Smart and funny, with beautiful art and exceptional character arcs, so far "Angel & Faith" is comics done right.