Review by Shaun Daniels and Edited by Sharon Wong
Just about every family has a black sheep so it’s probably safe to say that Faith is the black sheep in her family even though we’ve never seen her family…that is to say until now. After a 2011 New York Comic Con teaser by writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs, we finally get to meet Faith’s family in the form of her father. The aptly titled arc, “Daddy Issues,” is more than just a reunion of Faith and her dear old dad but an examination of all of the characters in Angel and Faith, alive, dead or undead, and their relationships with their dads/father figures.
Angel, in London’s Highgate area, normally known for its ritzy inhabitants, is in the middle of an investigation that mirrors one from the past. That investigation was conducted by none other than Giles, the man Angel wants to resurrect. It centered around a group of teenage Watchers-in-training, led by the Watcher himself, who were expecting a vampire but instead were slaughtered at the hands of a lesser known demon who drinks juices from its victims’ heads. Giles, the lone survivor of the incident, didn’t take too kindly to his father, whom he feels fed him and his students to the lions. Angel and Faith find themselves currently investigating what may be the same demon, which also hibernates for decades at a time. With magic being of short supply and clues starting to add up, it appears that this normally solitary demon might be working for someone, or rather something, influencing the demon. Mother Superior, the mysterious vampire figure that seems able to influence vampires and humans alike, becomes a person of interest. Angel and Faith set out to confront Mother Superior, who turns out to be no stranger to Angel and may have her own daddy issue with him. [SEMI-SPOILER ALERT!] The issue ends with a couple of Slayers in a bar being asked questions by a man claiming to be Faith’s dad.
Gage is layering this issue with the dynamics of father figure relationships even though the only one explored in this story is that of Giles and his father from the ‘70s. This tumultuous relationship between a young Giles and elder Rupert will undoubtedly be the vehicle for the exploration of the relationships in this arc. With this start, it looks as if Gage will be juxtaposing Giles and his father against Faith and her dad, Angel and his sires, and finally, to that of Giles and Faith. The writer also shows his mastery of the writing craft with the way he uses the flashback of Giles and the young Watchers (we call dibs on writing that spin-off). Instead of dumping the flashback in the story, he throws in dialogue about Angel reading Giles’ journal with that little bit of dialogue justifying the presence of the flashback and not just being a McGuffin.
Isaacs definitely stepped up her art in this issue. By no means has her artwork on the opening story arc been anything than her best, but her two-issue break from the book seems to have given her time to recharge. As always, Isaacs continues to capture the essences of the characters without making them look like carbon copies of the actors who played them on the TV show. The standout scene is in the opening where a doctor/nurse performed unnecessary surgeries on unwitting patients at a senior housing complex.
Put aside your own daddy issues for this book. After all, your problems probably don’t compare to the crazy shit these characters have put each other through.