Angel & Faith: Season 10 #1

Season 10 of "Angel and Faith" is off to a solid start, even with a mixed bag of an issue. With new creative team Victor Gischler and Will Conrad and a new status quo for the universe, this #1 had to be a workhorse -- and it can sometimes feel workmanlike as a result. Still, Gischler and Conrad have to do the legwork of extricating "Angel and Faith" from the "Buffy" storylines in order to make this series unique, and they get the job done here. With a promising sense of drama and pacing, they look well-equipped to take "Angel and Faith" forward.

Writer Victor Gischler takes over "Angel and Faith" from Christos Gage, who's now working on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10." As a result, "Angel and Faith Season 10" feels quite different from the first run of the book. It's not worse, and he's got a fine grasp of Whedonverse dialogue, but the jump between the two was jarring for the first few pages. Conrad's art is solid, and Madsen's colors feel very appropriate for the world, so all-in-all they have the feel of "Angel and Faith" set.

Plot-wise, Angel is off in Magic Town in London, trying to control the chaos unleashed there, while Faith has her own mission to take care of. There isn't always a clear transition between the two different storylines, and that is probably the book's weakest point. Some clearer labeling could provide a quick fix for this as the series progresses. I understand that it's meant to feel like one book, but if it's going to tell two different stories, the reader needs some cues to better follow the narrative beats.

The creative team makes the most of the moments they're given. For the sake of the two-series plan, it's clear that Giles is going to be handed off to Buffy and the other Scoobies. Gischler mines this necessary plot point for dramatic tension and emotional impact. Giles runs from Faith, who resurrected him, to share a tearful embrace with Buffy. It's a poignant second-best moment for a character who's always treated as second fiddle to the one true Slayer, and both Gischler and Conrad portray Faith's emotion well. At other points, Conrad's facial expressions don't read as clearly, but he nails it when it counts.

Still, Angel's section felt generic. I do love the horrifying character design of the pixies, all nasty little mouths and claws with wings, but their interactions with Angel don't make full use of the possibilities that Magic Town provides. This is a baddie-of-the-week interplay that any fan of "Buffy" or other supernatural fiction will have seen before. This is not to say it's not poorly done; the beats are well-placed, and the plot moves smoothly. However, given the general premise (and that fantastic cover by Scott Fischer), I was hoping that the creative team would dive into Magic Town a bit more.

"Angel and Faith Season 10" #1 achieves its purpose in that it sets up a status quo and defines itself against the "Buffy" side of this multi-series universe. Now that it's free to develop its own stories, it will feel less like an offshoot of "Buffy" and more like its own animal.

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