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‘Angel & Faith: Season 10 #5’ – Comic Book Review (The Neo-Vamps Launch a British Invasion!)

I may have been lagging in my comic book slaying duties, my fellow Scoobies, but I’m back with a vengeance and ready to deliver the goods on the fifth issue of Angel & Faith: Season 10 written by Victor Gischler and featuring the art of Derlis Santacruz. While Angel & Faith may not have the tight and focused plot that it had last season, Dark Horse still continues to mine the advantage of the shared universe of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith series, and this month that manifests in the form of the vampire with a soul’s first encounter with the sun-lovin’, shape-shifting neo-vamps that have been a recent thorn in Buffy’s side.

Here’s a quick summary of Issue #5:
This issue opens with a flashback to Angelus in his nun-massacring days. While Angelus’ action clearly take place in the past, when the nuns rush outside as St. Mary’s Convent goes up in flames, we see modern-day fire trucks fighting the blaze. Angel wakes with a start, and we realize the flashback was a dream.

Going out, Angel runs into Inspector Brandt who puts our hero on the trail of some unusual vamp killings that seem very “un-vampish,” seeming to “prefer the sunlight.” Employing the “talents” of Giles’ Aunts, Sophie and Lavinia, Angel is able to lure the vampire culprit out in the open in no time.

Despite being more difficult to stake and his other unusual abilities, Angel, Lavinia, and Sophie managed to decapitate the neo-vamp and soon nothing is left except the standard pile of dust. Later, Angel contemplates calling Buffy to share the info on this new type of vampire but decides he’s not ready for that conversation yet. In the final panels, Angel walks past a newspaper stating that six people have died in a fire at St. Mary’s Convent, but our hero fails to notice this ominous turn of events.

The Good
The Neo-Vamps made it across the pond. Yeah, “Neo-Vamps.” Is everybody cool with calling them that? Someone let me know if there’s a better word for these Dracula-derivative bloodsuckers. This new breed of vampires continues to be a fun addition to the Buffyverse and a great example of the side effects of last season’s magical reboot. Keeping the “connective tissue” between Angel & Faith and Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a smart move by Dark Horse, and Gischler and whets the fan appetite for what crossovers lie down the road for Season 10.

Brandt’s not bad. We still know very little about the character, but Brandt certainly has some natural charisma. We’ll have to wait and see what Gischler has planned for the character, but the Buffyverse comics have introduced a handful of great characters that have only existed in the sequential art form, so perhaps Brandt will be Gischler’s addition to the batch.

Chris Samnee and Jordie Bellaire’s variant cover. What a great image. Covers like this one are a great example of why I am so very in love with the Buffyverse’s move to the comic book medium

The Bad

Was this issue anything more than an intro to the Neo-Vamps (which already happened in Buffy)? While the execution was fairly adept, boy, did the plot feel shallow in this issue. When you break it down, this issue’s story content really only covers Angel realizing what neo-vamps are and how they operate (something most readers already know and experienced in the pages of Buffy: Season 10) and a small tease regarding Angel’s troubling insomnia. In the end, while the issue is enjoyable, it ends up feeling like a filler episode of Angel, closer to the somewhat forgettable “Heartthrob” than a standout episode like “Somnambulist.” (Yea, Jeremy Renner!)

Why aren’t Angel and Faith in separate books? Maybe my opinion will change on this as Season 10 rolls out, but I can’t understand why the choice was made to shove the characters of Angel and Faith under the same title when they said their goodbyes last season. The plot lines don’t seem to intersect or reflect on one another, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’d much more prefer separate Angel and Faith titles, even if it meant both were shorter, limited miniseries.

The Ugly (Fan Buzz, that is . . . )
Fan reaction for this issue has been mostly positive and the book got good reactions from Three If By Space, and Geeked Out Nation. Angel & Faith: Season 10 #5 also received a slightly less positive review from Light_Watcher.
Does Angel have another “Penn-like” experience? Given that Angel’s violent nightmare/flashback and its real-world connections share a lot in common with our hero’s experiences with his progeny, Penn, in the Angel Season One episode, “Somnambulist,” many are wondering if Angel has another vamp “child” close by.

Will Conrad, you are missed. While fans seemed very pleased with the beautiful artwork of Santacruz, many mentioned how much they felt the absence of regular Angel & Faith: Season 10 artist, Will Conrad. I believe this speaks less against the work of Santacruz and more to how much impact Conrad’s art has made in just a few short issues.

That all for now, Scoobies. I’ll be back soon with my review of the latest release from Buffy: Season 10.

’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer

If you’re craving more goodies from the Whedon comic-verse to feed you addiction, then don’t miss my “Comic Patrol” posts every Friday at!  “Comic Patrol” is a regular, weekly feature pointing out articles, previews, and tidbits relating to the Whedon comic-verse, and it’s hosted by your friendly, neighborhood Comic Book Slayer! I’ll see you there, comic book sniffers!


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