Angel & Faith: Season 10 #5

"Angel & Faith Season 10" #5 is really better titled "Angel Season 10" #5, since Faith's nowhere to be seen. But in a book where one of the things that's been lacking is that interplay between Angel and Faith, I have to admit it: Victor Gischler and Derlis Santacruz's new issue is the best of the series to date.

In many ways, the main purpose of "Angel & Faith Season 10" #5 feels to catch the series up with the recent revelations on new vampires that we've seen in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10," now that more and more are showing up with changed abilities and powers. As a result, people who have read those issues as well might at first be a little disappointed when they figure out that this is the main thrust of the comic.

But here's the thing: it works in part because Gischler brings back Lavinia and Sophie, two characters that should have been incredibly annoying in the previous "Angel & Faith" series, but in fact managed to repeatedly steal the show. They do the same thing here, teaming up with Angel to try and track down the new vampire that's preying on lone shoppers in need of assistance. The sequence with Lavinia and Sophie going up against the vampire is both funny and also enjoyable, because despite all of their bickering and snark, Gischler doesn't lose track of the fact that they're supposed to be more than a bit competent. These two ladies understand the world of the occult quite well, and Gischler uses that to the story's advantage.

This isn't a complete throwaway issue either; what looks like a strange prologue to the issue is mentioned again in an oblique way in the conclusion, enough that it's clear that this is a lead-in to a future storyline. With no sign at all of Faith this issue and her (completely separate for now) plotline, it's nice to know that this is doing more than just bringing in the new-and-improved vampires to London. All in all, it feels like Gischler's settling in well into "Angel & Faith Season 10."

It doesn't hurt that Derlis Santacruz provides guest pencils this month (along with Andy Owens on inks), and the book looks pretty darn nice. Santacruz and Owens remind me a lot of artists like Paul Pelletier, with a rounded, solid form that feels filled out but not too much so either. I love Lavinia's perturbed expression thanks to the artists -- you can just feel her irritation blistering off of the page -- and the fight between the ladies and the vampire has a lot of weight because of the art. You really get the feeling that vampire are dangerous here; you can see the two physically struggling against the vampire's supernatural strength, for instance, as he throttles Lavinia with one hand while stopping her from staking him with the other. I also love the way that Santacruz tackles the vampire turning into mist and returning; with the trail of mist behind him, it reminds me almost of a genie whizzing through the air, and that's a good visual depiction. All in all, it's a good look for the book, one that I'd like to see back sometime soon.

It's great to see both Buffyverse series on track, rather than playing the "which is the good series this time?" game. Gischler's moving the book alone well, and the next time Santacruz needs to step in for guest pencils, I'm game. If you haven't picked up the new "Angel & Faith Season 10" series, this is as good a place as any to give a sample and see for yourself what's inside.

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