on 12 May 2015
I'm passingly familiar with the Buffyverse, in that I know who Buffy is, along with Giles and the Scooby gang, and so on. I know the back story for the appearance and eventual spin-off of Angel. That's certainly enough to get you in to this collected volume, especially since this book revolves around Angel, his son Connor, and Willow.
This particular volume, "Volume 3" collects issues 11 through 15 of the Angel & Faith branch of Buffy Season 9. This set of collected issues is generally referred to as "Family Reunion". (The first 5 issues are collected as Volume 1, "Live Through This". The second volume of issues 6 through 10 is titled "Daddy Issues".) The "Daddy Issues" arc was written by Christos George, but has been executive produced by Joss Wheedon and is considered part of the Buffy canon. The same is true for this Volume 3.
Now, with that background, the question is - do you want to read this? For me, the answer is definitely yes. Of course, if you are a hard-core fan or a completist you have to read this. If you are a casual or passing fan, like me, the question turns on risk/reward. How hard do I want to work to get up to speed and what's the payoff if I do commit?
Well, the story is compelling and accessible for part-time fans, and is entertaining and satisfying. Angel is a more engaging and attractive lead character than I would have expected, and Faith, the rogue slayer, is a lot more interesting and a lot less angst ridden and whiney than I anticipated. There is a lot of narrative bobbing and weaving before the story settles down and goes somewhere, but not too much and not to the point of exasperation.
Willow needs Angel's son to get her into hell, (Quor'toth), where she will try to revive her magic. Angel needs Willow to help him connect with a powerful object that will aid in his effort to return Giles. Angel also needs to reconnect with Connor, his quasi-abandoned son. Faith is pretty much along for the ride in this story arc.
And it all works. Willow is compelling and sympathetic. Angel has it together and thinks and acts like a hero. Connor is probably the most balanced and mentally stable character in the Buffyverse. They have a heck of an exciting trip to hell, and it all works and makes sense.
And then as a treat, Whistler shows up at the end and steals the whole book. He's a part demon who is responsible for keeping good and evil in balance, and he has presence and charisma to burn. Even if the preceding story wasn't good, which it is, his appearance and his story are worth the price of the book.
So, you have a coherent story with a beginning, a middle, and a satisfying end. All of the characters behave themselves and shine in their own ways. You get bonus footage of secondary characters who threaten to steal the show. How can this be bad?
The drawing is very effective and has a lot of pizzazz and expression, without detracting from the storyline. Most of the humor is a bit understated, and is the more satisfying for it.
So, if you would like a little fix from the Buffyverse, this would seem to be a good choice.
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to the author or the publisher of this book.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2013
So well written and fast paced... i didnt follow the Angel tv series but the comics are great... Conner is a welcome addition and we finally get to see a little more imagenation from the writters... seems like they finally realised they have no set budgets to work around! :P....
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2015
Season 9 had a fantastic start with Volume 1: Live Through This, which makes it all the more disappointing that the series falls down halfway through with this silliness about a hell dimension and the return of a character who shouldn't have existed. The artwork immediately recalls the television show, because it is so closely based on the original characters, and the arc is partly a re-tread of Angel's awful Season 3 storyline - Connor's past in an alternative dimension where he has some kind of special status. Gage tries hard to make Connor sympathetic but doesn't succeed in papering over the cracks. All this volume manages to achieve is to provide a painful reminder of how horrible it was to watch this the first time round and how much the show lost its way after a very promising first season.
Gunn appears fleetingly and Gage does a surprisingly bad job with Willow, who never seems to come alive. The father-son scenes between Angel and Connor don't work, partly because it doesn't seem right that Angel is old enough or responsible enough to have a teenage son. Despite Gage's attempts, the relationship still feels out of place and doesn't ring true.
If you didn't like Connor, and think perhaps that Angel became pretty much unwatchable from Season 3 onwards, when the series began to suffer due to terrible scripts, it's not a good idea to read this.
Buffy Season 2 retcon
Towards the end of this volume there is a short issue called "The Hero of His Own Story", a conversation between Angel and Whistler, a minor character from season 2 of BtVS, which is supposed to address their joint role in the Twilight fiasco from season 8. That isn't all it's concerned with, though. For whatever reason, the writers have retconned season 2 of BtVS by making Whistler responsible for orchestrating the Buffy/Angel love affair, in which the implications are that Angel was acting as his puppet, just as he was acting as his agent in season 8. It makes the character of Angel problematic and because the character has been dumbed down, it detracts from some of the most powerful episodes of one the early seasons of the show. Already, the drastic mistakes of AtS (failure to write sympathetic characters, character assassination etc), are being repeated. If it's not possible to engage with either or both of the title characters, plus the added irritation of a character like Connor, there isn't anything to get out of reading the comics. Hated this.
Looking at what has been released about forthcoming season 10 issues of BtVS, it seems likely that the puppet theme is going to return again, this time with Archaeus pulling the strings. Spike will come off as the stronger character, which I think short-changes fans, including Spuffys, because it would have been more interesting to see who Buffy would have chosen out of the two with both characters at their best.