Thursday, December 1, 2011

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #29

Like almost all comic book readers, this strange fifth Wednesday of the month saw my smallest pull list in quite a while. Let's get to it!

Angel & Faith #4
Live Through This - Part Four
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Rebekah Isaacs
Dark Horse Comics

With this finale of the first arc, Angel and Faith go up against Pearl and Nash in a fight as bloody as it is glowy. These two Big Bads, who are apparently "so far beyond what (Angel and Faith) can even imagine," are dealt with in a clever way that leaves room for our heroes to escape without downplaying the major threat these baddies pose. The skirmish is fun and exciting, though the issue itself doesn't reach the emotional heights I thought it would based on what the previous three installments seemed to be building toward. However, with the way this chapter ends... well, let's just say that it's clear that Christos is writing this story with the long-haul in mind. A lot more questions are posed by the end of the issue, and they're all interesting, true to the characters, and one of them is even all out shocking.

After the battle with Pearl and Nash, Angel comes to a startling discovery about the affect of Mohra blood in a world with no magic. It's grotesque, but it leads Faith and Angel to a sad but necessary decision that, for me at least, seemed to harken back to the old days of Angel. He's darker than Buffy, and he's able to do things that she (at least during the TV show) would have had a problem with - it's debatable whether that makes him more of a hero or less, but what it surely makes him is one of the most interesting characters in the 'verse.

Faith also gets a lot of cool scenes, and the way she plays off of Angel is great. All of my reservations about Angel sharing his title are gone, because while Faith clearly plays an enormous role, Christos and Rebekah never shortchange Angel.

The issue ends with a reveal... and I know I don't normally talk about this sort of stuff in my reviews, I think it's such a big moment that it warrant a bit of speculation. Toward the end of the issue, a glasses-wearing Angel asks Faith for, in lieu of a mug of blood, "a spot of tea, if it won't put you out." Faith says that his impression of Giles was great... and Angel says that he doesn't know what she's talking about. Confused and disturbed, she walks away to get the tea. End of issue.


It seems that Angel is channeling Giles. Or possessed by him. Or something. Whether it's due to something with the Seed, the loss of magic, or something sinister... I don't know. How can we? Maybe it's just Angel's guilt trying to make up for the absence of Giles in a creepy way... but I tend to think not.

This story is going somewhere strange and new, somewhere creepy and fascinating. Is it time for #5 yet?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4
Story by Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz
Written by Tom Waltz
Art by Dan Duncan
IDW Publishing

Another finale of sorts. The first storyline of TMNT wraps up in this issue, which sees Raphael reunited with his brothers as Old Hob pulls out all the stops to take his revenge. We're treated to another flashback, which gives us some time with soon-to-be-villain Baxter Stockman and another look at the freshly mutated turtles and Splinter. There's a really cool metatextual scene where Spliter alludes to the turtles relearning what they once knew in another life (seemingly referencing the old Turtles continuity, giving a wink to old fans), but mostly this issue just deals with the ongoing war between Old Hobb and the turtles.

There is some great action in this issue, and it's more nostalgic than I can say to see all of the turtles fighting together. What really works, though, is the emotional scenes. Raphael's return to the fold is moving, to say the least - especially Splinter's reaction upon seeing him.

This series - the creative team, the ideas new and old, the art, the flashbacks, and the characters - just works. It's month to month one of the best books being published, both for nostalgic and quality reasons, and with the turtles united at last, it seems as if it's only going to get better.

Plus, with Brian Lynch, the brilliant writer behind ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL on next week's RAPHAEL one-shot... well, let's just say that turtles fans who haven't read/seen Brian's previous work are about to become big, big fans of a new writer.


NEXT WEEK: Action Comics, Detective Comics, Supernatural Caledonia, TMNT: Raphael.

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