Buffy, Angel And Faith, Oh My

Buffy, Angel and Faith:  Is the Magic Still There?Well, technically not if you take into account [...]

Buffy, Angel and Faith

:  Is the Magic Still There? Well, technically not if you take into account that Buffy destroyed the seed of all magic in season 8 but not to fret because these two series have done a pretty good job so far of bringing back the spark that Buffy Season 8 definitely lost. To say that Buffy Season 8 and Angel:  After the Fall were disappointing would be very much of an understatement.  I, a fan of both shows during their runs, found myself getting burnt out on the seemingly random flux of events going on in both titles.  So my low expectations of Buffy Season 9 and the newly launched Angel and Faith were well founded. But luckily for me I was proven wrong. Recently, both issues finished up their first story arc and have laid their first stand-alone issue, paving the way for later issues.   Finally within the same continuity of each other, it's exciting to watch the consequences these characters have to face after committing some pretty serious acts.  For Angel it's having to deal with the fact that he (spoiler alert) broke Giles' neck in season 8 and Buffy must deal with the more Earth-changing ramifications of destroying the Seed of All Magic. So how do they handle these problems in these past issues? Well, let's break it down: Buffy Season 9 Freefall and Slayer, Interrupted: 

The first arc of Season 9 started with Buffy trying to figure out what happened to her after a drunken night debauchery and fun in her newly settled apartment and two new roommates.  It's a definite change of pace to see Buffy being Buffy after the long "season" of General Buffy.  Buffy herself worked better as a character who was trying her best to live the life of a normal girl with a huge destiny and seeing her return to her "roots" so to speak is a great relief. And of course all the other characters are there.  Dawn and Xander, still dating (as creepy as that is) show up to give minimal support to Buffy while Willow, de-magiced and dating someone other than the aggravating Kennedy, shows up to constantly remind Buffy that she "screwed up" by destroying the Seed of Magic.  It's good to see Dawn finally growing up but not so great to see everyone blaming Buffy for everything that's happened.  True, the blame  is mostly hers but could anyone else have made a better choice? But one of the newest things added to the mix is seeing the effects of "no magic" on the world.  Willow is now a simple human.  No Slayers will be called that weren't already and, oh yeah, vampires are more animalistic and dangerous than ever.  Because Earth has been cut off from all other dimensions, the vampiric essence can't be completely transitioned over so newly "vamped" humans are stuck between death and un-death and are now affectionately called zomvampires (by Xander of course). The villain himself is also interesting. In a world with no magic, it makes poetic sense the first power to manifest itself in a human would be the power to drain the magic from an existing creature.  With the help of SFPD though, Buffy manages to defeat the guy (but not before an old enemy presents themselves to him) and save the day.  But she realizes there are more consequences to her actions than she previously believed. And as for the stand-alone, it does a great job of setting up future events.  By mixing Buffy's prophetic dreams, the Primitive (first Slayer), Willow and the Scythe, the Vampyr book Giles left her,  it sets up a taste of how magic will be probably be brought back and sets up the tasteful curiosity of how Willow may do this.  But a surprise twist at the end, which can either be great of terrible, really sets the question of: "what's going to happen now?"  And I can't wait to find out what.

Angel and Faith Live Through This, In Perfect  Harmony The great thing about Angel finally being in the same continuity of our favorite Slayer is that what happens in the world in the comic effects the world of the other.  And that definitely shows itself in this series.  After being murdered by Angel, Giles had left his entire estate to Faith…along with some unfinished business. What I like about this series is that we have two characters that are very much alike and so very different from each other.  Both are characters seeking redemption from the things they've done wrong and knowing that they never can.  Angel, feeling guiltier than ever for his actions as Twilight and his murdering of Giles, feels it's not only his duty to fix things Giles couldn't but also to try to bring Giles back to life. Faith, not agreeing with him but afraid to go against him due to his fragile mindset, agrees to help him.  And Angel's plan?  To find the Mohra demon's blood that's being sold on the street.  For those that don't know, Mohra is a demon who's blood has the power to revitalize, heal and bring back the dead (as it did for Angel, briefly, in the season one episode of Angel "I Will Remember You") But there's a problem. Not only do two powerful beings attack and destroy the party where the Mohra demon was up for sale, but the Mohra's blood itself is not tainted due to the lack of the magic in the world.  It still heals but it horribly mutates the person into a blob of part and mess that seemingly can't die.  Unsure of who sent the evil duo or how to fix the Mohra blood, Angel gives up…but not on bringing Giles back. But, though I loved the first arc, I was not a fan of the stand-alone In Perfect Harmony.  Yes, Clem and Harmony are fun characters and their interaction with the Gloomy Duo were spot on but it did very little to set up any coming up.  Besides mentioning that they have to move on from their mistakes to find a new path, it did very little else.  Hopefully, they'll rectify this with the new issue. Overall: I feel as though these series are finally getting back on their feet after a very rocky Season 8.  The drawings, as have been the case for Season 8, are spot on.  I know who the characters are simply by looking at them.  My biggest complaint with After the Fall was that I could hardly tell who the characters were.  But luckily for me, the artists have captured our favorite characters to the tee while adding their own flair to them as well. And as for the writing, with Joss Whedon overseeing it they're doing a great job keeping the characters' voices in check.  The tongue in cheek humor, pop culture references and some ridiculous story arcs (Buffy's student loans) are spot on the dark humor of the show.  It takes itself seriously while slightly admitting it's ridiculous.  And with Buffy and Angel finally back to doing what they're good at (Buffy balancing Slayer and normal life and Angel fighting the good fight) a taste of how great these shows were finally come through. Add on the surprises from both issues (Buffy's…issue revealed at the end of Slayer, Interrupted and Whistler's involvement in Angel's arc) I'm very curious to see where all of this is going and how any of these characters are going to rectify that which they have set wrong.  So if you haven't given up Buffy and Angel, keep reading and if you're hesitant, I know that if you read this first arc, it can definitely give you hope for the future.