A&F #9, Summary and Review
Drusilla cuts in here, saying that Faith doesn't have to - Angel's the one who enjoys torturing himself, not Faith. She asks Faith, whose face is still bloody and soaked with tears, how she feels, and she replies, "I feel great. I mean, I remember it all. My dad, the Mayor, everything they did to me...but I don't care." She goes on to talk about her need for a family and the little voice that told her she deserved to suffer, and how they're gone.
Angel, looking shocked and defeated, asks, "What else is gone?" He reminds her of the innocent man she killed a few years ago, and asks how she feels about that. His own memories of what he's done are agonizing for him, but they're what keep him from releasing Angelus and doing the same things again, and what pushes him to atone. The pain is something to fight through and come out shorter - taking the Lorophage shortcut made Faith less. He remembers (with a flashback panel) when she came to LA, tortured Wesley, and tried to get Angel to kill her, and says, "That's who I'd expect to give up like this. Not you."
Drusilla comes between them before Faith can reply. She says that Angel likes pain and suffering because he thinks it strengthens the soul, and compares it to S&M. "But you miss two key points, Angel. One - not everyone has your capacity for self-flagellation. And two -"
Faith finishes for her. It's too late; she can't undo it. Angel points at the Lorophage and asks if he could, and Dru stands in front of the demon protectively and says it's ridiculous to expect him to give trauma back. Angel asks again if he could, if Drusilla wanted him to, and he's answered only by her hard glare. Then she attacks, first with her bare hands and then with a heavy floor sconce (I'm sorry, really not wanting to look up a better word for it; it's big and it holds candles), yelling at him for wanting everyone to be shattered and helpless like he is. He starts out with his sword in hand, but she knocks it away. She drops the sconce and slashes across his chest with her fingernails, saying that none of "us" will ever be that again. We see the crowd of Lorobotomized humans and vampires (now with added Faith) behind him as he replies, "They already are. You just broke them in different ways."
Finally the Lorophage punches him, and Drusilla and her cronies successfully restrain him. Faith tells them to get off, but Dru assures her that she doesn't mean to hurt him, just fix him like she did Faith. As the demon's claws near his forehead, Angel says he thought that she was going to give him a choice, and she says yes, but he made the wrong one. Angel asks Faith for help; she's clearly torn, and Dru takes advantage and tells her not to listen to him, as he's not right in the head. She's going to make him feel better and freer, like Faith does. Faith turns away, Dru says, "There's a good girl," and Angel screams, off-panel.
Dru shushes Angel, imploring him to let go of the trauma, but she's interrupted just as the tips of the demon's claws get into Angel's skin. Faith kicks her in the head and she vamps out, shouting that Faith is an ungrateful wretch, as Angel breaks free of his captors. Faith accuses Drusilla of using her, like her dad, like everyone. "Almost everyone," she adds as she passes Angel his sword over her shoulder.
Angel fights the Lorophage and Faith gets slapped by Dru, who's ranting about the meaningless life that Angel saved her from. She's the eternal guest of honor at the banquet of life - he made her something beautiful, and she owes him. She's going to save him the way he saved her. As she says this, we see the Lorophage with one hand around Angel's throat and the other poised again to suck out his trauma.
Angel grabs that hand, turns it around, and plunges the claws into the demon's own forehead. "Drusilla," he says, "I'm so sorry." The demon drops, its eyes go milky, and tendrils of yellow smoke start rising from it. Dru, distraught, asks what's happening, and Angel explains that he took a shot and turned the demon's claws on himself, that he would draw out his own trauma. All he has comes from others - we see the faces of the cultists. Dru begs Angel not to do this to her again, asking if he can't see that something is creeping its way into both of them. She clutches his jacket as the smoke reaches her nostrils.
She falls to her knees, tears streaming down her face, saying he doesn't know what it's like. "Thoughts writing like eels...my whole world so...so...lovely." She smiles and gets back to her feet and throws her arms around him. "Oh, Angel. I knew you'd save me. It was dreadful. The world was like metal. So firm and cold. All the possibilities locked away, weeping, and the keys made of maths..."
As she carries on, Angel goes to faith and touches her shoulder, but she recoils from him. He apologizes, saying he wouldn't have done it if there was any other way. She cuts in, saying she knows and she just needs to be left alone. Angel can see how angry she is, and he falls silent.
The cultists are receiving their old trauma again too. One shouts for it to stop, one asks who did this, and soon they're all looking at Angel and Faith. They attack as a mob, and Angel and Faith try to fend them off without hurting them. Angel asks Drusilla to call them off, saying he can still help her. She's headed for the door, but stops to say there's not enough help for him. She's getting visions now that her madness is back, and "It's coming, you see...for both of us." She talks about pieces coming together, too many voices, broken children, the places you'll go, the ghosts of the past, all the king's horses, the drake in the field and the white coach, and finally that it's time to go. She can't help him now; in the end, we are alone.
"Glad we cleared that up," says Faith as she runs up the stairs to a broken stained-glass window. Angel grabs a torch from the wall as he follows, saying they won't stop and this is the only way to avoid hurting someone. He waves the torch to hold them off as Faith looks back at them in disgust and they both get out onto the roof. The mob is still searching the streets for them, Faith notes, and Angel adds that he didn't want to leave Drusilla out there.
Faith says they can put out feelers to find her, and asks if he's worried for others, or Drusilla herself. Dru's never going to be like Angel, or even Spike, says Faith. "Some people you gotta write off." Angel brings up Faith's father, and how seeing him made Faith slip into old patterns and thus go to Drusilla, even though that kind of action is no longer her. He tells her that people from her past can't take away what she's accomplished unless she lets them, and she gets agitated again and says she knows, she gets it, and let's drop it.
Next she smirks and asks what pieces of Giles's soul he got this time. He's shocked, but she says she's not stupid. She noticed the pierced nipple and how it glowed when the demon died, the same kind of glow that she saw when they killed the demon in the first issue. Angel fesses up, telling her about the ancient Egyptian belief about the nine parts of the soul, and how he's collecting them, and how he wasn't sure what she'd think. He knows she doesn't believe he can bring him back.
She says she's not sure what she believes anymore, but she knows he doesn't give up on people, and neither does she. She's on board with his plan now and wants to help resurrect Giles, but adds that Drusilla is an exception to not giving up on people. Drusilla is crazy and soulless; too much of a mess. "Yeah. She is," Angel agrees. "But before she met me, she was beautiful." As he and Faith leave the alley they're in, we see an image of Drusilla as she was before Angel turned her, wearing a bonnet and smiling as she pets a cat.
I...liked this issue? I feel a little weird, like something is leaving me unsatisfied but it has more to do with my mood than the actual comic. I think I'm just impatient for Connor and Willow, or I'm waiting for a game-changer that was implicitly promised...is this what happens when comic readers get spoiled?
The part that I know for sure I'll return to is Dru going off about her visions right after she regained her madness. There are definitely truffles in there but we don't have the pig to find them yet. Ghosts of the past? Yes please.
Drusilla's overall development is important, of course, but I'm not entirely sure what to make of it. She was sane and now she's not, but isn't that just a reset? Can't say I'm displeased - I'd be lost in a Buffyverse without its roving madwoman villain - but has she gained or lost anything from her arc here? I stared at the final panel for a long time, wondering if there was something magic going on there, but I'm pretty sure it was just a memory. "She was beautiful before I met her" was a good ending thought, especially with Drusilla's earlier declaration that Angel/us made her beautiful. It could be read as a look at Angel's hopeless situation, knowing that he destroyed a good person and nothing he does now can reverse that, but I like to see it from the other perspective: she didn't start out evil or crazy, and she certainly didn't start out powerful. She was beautiful for her own sake, and nothing that happened to her improved on that - not visions, not suffering, not immortality.
But holy crap, how Angel must have felt when she begged him not to let the trauma back in. All the points for most effective use of the word again. It didn't really occur to me until then that what Angel was really doing when he sabotaged the Lorophage was torturing his original victim all over again. I don't think that he was wrong, but I wonder if he'll ever get to any kind of closure with Drusilla, especially if she never dies.
Angel and Faith's relationship probably gave me the most surprise of anything in this issue. There's been a lot of repetition in this book so far, which I actually kind of hate to admit because there are many ways in which I like repetition (not to mention that I don't really like saying anything negative about this book), but we've heard the two characters cycling through the same topic in their dialogue and thoughts a few times now, and it's getting easy to predict where it'll go. But twice in this issue, Faith pulls out a new card: "Leave me alone."
And cripe, Angel really does need to hear that, doesn't he? If he were my own crime-fighting BFF, I would want him around at all times and in every way (riiiight there, yessss), so I didn't quite key into what Faith would need from him. He's got a lot of wisdom, he loves her, and he wants so desperately to help, of course he's going to go overboard sometimes with his support. I didn't at all feel like Faith was retreating into herself or punishing herself by pushing him away - she just wanted to be able to consider things on her own. I think Angel's going to learn from that, and it's going to make them a stronger team.
Oooh, and Faith mentioned Spike for the second time. See, he's always on her mind! They are so bound by destiny.
Is this the end of the "Daddy Issues" arc? I hope so, although I've enjoyed it. I want to see some resolution and a new project for Angel and Faith (and Connor and Willow for Angel and Faith), and the shirtless-under-a-coat thing is really getting old. Pity we won't get any more of Isaacs drawing Drusilla in that dress, though.
Oh, one more thing - Faith wanting to help Angel resurrect Giles? How are we supposed to feel about this?