Angel is lurking in the Highgate Cemetery, paying his respects to the grave of Douglas Adams and tracking "something else". The scent of blood leads him to the public housing for the elderly in the Holly Lodge Estate, where he meets a police officer who says he's there on a call from the daughter of one of the residents, whose father missed their regular visit. The officer isn't concerned, saying it's not that unusual for a pensioner to just be sleeping or at the pub, but he insists on being the first one to enter the building.
Before he opens the door to what looks like a common room, the officer can now smell what Angel did, and he thinks it means there's a decaying body in there. Instead, it's a young staff member cutting a cross into the foreheads of a pile of residents with a handsaw. He says, "It's out. They had the disease. But I cut it out."
He attacks Angel and the police officer with the saw, saying "I can help you too!" Angel disarms and knocks him out: "Trying to help me...never ends well." The officer asks Angel if one of the victims was his friend, and Angel says, "No. No, I don't think he's been here for a while."
The next page cuts to the flashback of young Giles in his Watchers' final. The narration of his journal says that the creature that his friends thought was a vampire was in fact a Lorophage Demon, which feeds on trauma which it sucks out of the minds of its victims. The process is usually fatal, but Giles goes on to describe how it killed two (or more?) of his friends (including his crush, Charlotte), but was interrupted before it finished off Giles himself.
Apparently, training to be a Watcher involved being locked in rooms with starving vampires and peering into hell dimensions, and Giles says that the horror the students had experienced in ten years of this treatment made them especially choice victims for the Lorophage. The adult Watchers are still supervising the exam, though, and three of them tackle the demon and save Rupert, though the demon runs off, having adequately fed.
Later, Rupert has it out with the elder Giles, who was among the three who saved him. He blames them for sending them out unprepared, and says that he never chose to be a Watcher but was packed off to study horror and death when he was still a child. His father claims that this is their heritage and destiny and that horror is part of it. Rupert storms out, saying he'll no longer have any part in this, and the journal says that what came next will be recounted later, as there's only so much pain he can endure at one time.
Cut to Faith and two other Slayers saving a girl from a vampire. Nadira is about the apply the stake when Faith grabs her arm and says to look again. The "vampire" is actually a human who thinks he's a vampire. He says that "she" wouldn't sire him, so he sired himself. Nadira is distraught about almost being a murderer, and then worries that she's offended Faith. There's a flashback to Faith staking the Deputy Mayor, and she says it's alright, that she's glad that experience let her see what was going on and therefore save a life.
The Slayers discuss the "she" that the wannabe mentioned, and Nadira says it must be "Mother Superior", asking Faith if this was finally enough to let them go after her. The other Slayers say that she still hasn't broken any of Harmony's rules, so they don't have enough probable cause - killing vampires is still a legal grey area. Furthermore, Faith says, it would start a war. She leaves as the cops arrive, saying that she's going to look into a reason to dust Mother Superior.
Next page. Angel and Faith are sparring on the roof as they talk. Angel's heard of Mother Superior's popularity too, but she obeys the rules and he doesn't think there's anything odd about her staying out of sight and not using her real name. Faith tells him about the "nut jobs" she's met with ties to her. He makes the connection to the Lorophage in Giles' files, and says that the demon should now be waking from its hibernation cycle to feed.
The two of them pay a visit to Alasdair Coames. He says it's unlikely that the Lorophage itself has caused an epidemic of madness, since they only cause insanity if their attack is interrupted - otherwise it's just death. Faith brings up Giles, who seems to be an exception, and Coames says the attack was too brief. He also cites the Ripper days, which seems to piss Faith off. They continue to discuss the Lorophage and conclude that it could be controlled by a demon, such as a vampire, with an innate mesmeric ability.
As they leave, Angel asks Faith why she was acting defensive. She shrugs it off and says she has a lead from a Slayer who checked out the asylum and found three new residents with trauma in their pasts who suddenly lost their grip, and also incidentally had become obsessed with Mother Superior. Angel doesn't understand what a vampire would get out of making people crazy. Faith has a location, a deconsecrated church turned nightclub, so off they go.
They burst into the club through a stained-glass window. There are a lot of "human groupies and minor vampires". Angel tells them to bring them to Mother Superior, but instead they attack en masse. As the fight breaks out, he thinks about how he hates being in a church, because it brings back memories of how much he loved torturing and killing nuns as Angelus. These panels alternate with a middle-aged man asking Slayers in a pub if they've seen Faith.
Angel and Faith kick in a door at the church/club and enter a kind of miniature throne room. "Time for confession, Mother Superior," says Angel. "You go first. It starts, 'bless me...'"
"Wait," says Drusilla. She's dressed in a periodic English nobility outfit and surrounded by adoring young humans. At the sight of her, Angel can only say "Oh." She finishes his sentence, "Father. Isn't that right?" The man in the pub holds up a picture of himself with Faith and says he's looking for her because he's her daddy.
Angel thinks there's something off about Drusilla, who now has the Lorophage standing at her right hand. As she keeps talking, saying she's setting up shop in a church because she's feeling nostalgic, he realizes what it is: she's sane.
I'm dealing with some serious braindeadedness today so I'm going to try to make this brief. I loved this issue and I like where it's going.
So far the biggest point of contention among fans seems to be whether or not Angel would have been a Hitchhiker's fan. The answer is yes, yes he would. That's my opinion, but in this case I'm so severely correct that you can just accept it as a fact.
Along the same lines, I really enjoyed seeing Angel's thoughts in this issue. I'd liked Faith's as well, but they were starting to get repetitive, and anyway Angel's my favorite character in the 'verse, so. His thoughts are bound to get repetitive too - sure, we all knew already that he feels guilty about his mass murders etc. - but as he's a character who keeps everything close to his chest, nearly anything counts as an insight. See his irritation about the WWII vets taking the hit instead of the spoiled celebrities?
Charlotte is totally Ginny Weasley. Rupert's a sweetie, and the journal is very effective in this issue for making us see what Giles has been through long before we ever met him. Watcher training really does sound like hell, and if I had any doubts about that, it's enough that a tough, analytical, self-sacrificial man like Giles looks back on it and understands that he was traumatized before he even got to the final exam. Also we're practically promised here that we're going to see some Ripper flashbacks and I cannot contain my excitement.
So, the wannabe bit through a girl's skin with human teeth? And says he sired himself? Do you think he just sucked the blood out of his own arm? Okay done with that topic. I'm glad to see Harmony's rules being brought up here. I know it's a bit forced in for the sake of the overall plot, but it does sound fairly logical to me when it's approached this way - vampires are capable of behaving themselves when it's in their benefit to do so, and Slayers are better off leaving that balance rather than angering the population by killing off some of the "tame" vampires.
Buffy flashback panels are a special treat no matter their context.
Have I ever mentioned that I start bouncing and flapping my hands whenever Angel talks about vampires? I don't even get it. There's something about the reminder that he's such a stranger to our world that makes me adore him even more. Choosing a new name as a tradition among some bloodlines isn't any big revelation, but it's vampire cultural trivia and Angel's just casually discussing it with Faith. Yum. Doesn't hurt that they're having this conversation while sparring on a wet rooftop with Angel in a tank top. Does not hurt at all.
So it looks like Coames is going to be a regular character. That's cool; one of his cats clearly likes Angel. And then Angel mentions vampires having a hypnotic power. 'Cause he knows. 'Cause he's a vampire.
The fight in the church is a pretty brutal one - catch that panel of Angel holding a female vampire into a torch. I like having that as a backdrop to his thoughts about what he used to do to nuns. One of the keys to the Angel vs. Angelus debacle, I think, is that Angel may say the church brings back bad memories, but moments later, what he's actually remembering is how good it felt. No human can really relate to this. When we remember enjoying something, we want to do it again; it's memories of the consequences and how bad they felt that keep us in check. Angel just doesn't have that.
Rebekah Isaacs has done a gorgeous job with Drusilla so far and I'm looking forward to seeing more of her. Beyond that I'm not quite sure how to feel about her appearance. Drusilla is my favorite villain of the entire Buffyverse, but the top thing I always loved about her was that she was insane. No more of that? Her dialogue won't be nearly as much fun. On the other hand, why is she sane? Does it have to do with the end of magic? That could be interesting.
In any case, Angel's been reunited with the most emotionally charged person in his life outside Buffy, and that is an awesome, wonderful thing. Don't let me down, Daddy Issues arc!