Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Angel & Faith No. 3

Angel & Faith No. 3
Live Through This, Part 3

Another great issue from Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs.  I'm really enjoying this series so far, and I am almost happy that all of the weird things in season 8 happened, because it lead us here.

This issue starts off right in the thick of things:  Angel and Faith are smashing up ANOTHER establishment full of demons; this time it seems as though Angel has decided to go to the source of the Mohra blood: the crime boss Fraser, a smartly dressed man with devilish red horns coming out of his cheeks.  (How does he SHAVE?)  They fight, and we get an interesting line from Faith as to the legal status of demons in this brave new world.  "Killing demons is kind of a legal gray area, and you look to be at least half."  Interesting.  A few panels later, Angel mentions that "the police'll be here soon, and [they] don't need that kind of trouble for nothing."  This idea of demon killing being a potential police issue is a really new idea for this universe.  This whole concept seems to be especially relevant to what is happening over in the Buffy comic.  It seems that since the outing of the demon world to the general public last year, governments are having a lot of trouble finding the legal ramifications of everything.

Fraser claims not to have any Mohra blood.  Angel and Faith leave, but not before Fraser offers Angel some "honest" work as a vampiric prostitute.  Outside of the... um... club?  Was it a club?  Anyway, outside the club, Faith is angry at Angel for not letting her kill Fraser.  But Angel reveals that now that Fraser has outright denied having any Mohra blood, everyone is going to know that he has some.  He will get greedy and give Angel and Faith an in to get some.  Makes sense to me.

We get a return to the ending revelation of last issue: Faith intends on trying to force Angel to forgive himself by making him human.  She asks him if he's considered using the Mohra blood on himself, and he says that nothing has changed.  He claims that he still needs to be a vampire to do the things he needs to do, though he is nonspecific about what those things may be.  He remains very Angel-like in his fatalism.
"'Happily ever after' isn't what I've got coming.  A stake through the heart is.  Until then, I have things to do."
This is interesting to me, especially in contrast to Angel last season, high on Twilight-juice, trying to convince Buffy that they had finally gotten their "happily ever after."  I love the constant reminders to how far Angel has fallen as a result of his actions last season, and every great character moment like this, I become less disappointed with last season.

Faith gets an entire page to ruminate on Angel and his potential for a human life.  She wonders what would happen if she forced him to become human, and if he would be able to forgive himself if he were no longer a monster.  I can understand why she would think so, but I think she's doing the same thing that Angel is trying to do by resurrect Giles.  We can't undo the mistakes of our past, we can only try to move on from them and make amends as best we can.  Turning Angel human doesn't erase his past, and he will probably be less able to deal with his regrets as a human than he would as a vampire.  I.  LOVE.  THIS.  STORY.

Angel and Faith go around to clients of Fraser who claim to have received Mohra blood.  Many of the clients have gone missing, something Faith thinks indicates a scam.  Angel isn't so sure though, and wants to know more about Mohra demons, as the watchers files aren't clear on them.  So they decide to go to one of Giles' old coleagues: Alasdair Coames, who has gone from being one of the most badass archmages ever to an adorable old man living alone in his flat with fairies, winged cats, and TINY DRAGONS.

Alasdair is really endearing right off the bat.  He explains that he has been collecting magical beings to protect them and that he is a magical biologist.  Which: awesome.  He reveals that a Mohra demon would require some type of magical cage as well as vast quantities of salt to eat.  The salt is the key apparently, as a lot of salt being delivered to a private home should be traceable.

Faith gets a call from one of the London slayers and heads down to a bar where Nadira has been taking out her frustrations on a... soccer team?  Or football I guess?  Anyway, some type of sports team consisting of large men.  The image of the guys being thrown in the air in the back of one of panels is particularly amusing. Faith distracts the guys with beer, and the fighting stops.

We get another tidbit about this new world from one of the slayers, who reveals why Nadira had to resort to fighting a soccer team in a bar instead of the legions of hell:
"Slow night.  No vampires -- none breaking Harmony's rules anyway.  Just nibbling on eager goth wannabes... only taking enough blood so everyone leaves happy."
Interesting.  Was this mentioned last season and I just forgot about it?  Vampires have found that they are able to survive in this society by taking advantage of angsty goths and not killing... strange.  And they are called "Harmony's rules?"  Wow.  Who'da thought?

Faith consoles Nadira, and explains that slayer power has to be let out occasionally, but it has to come out in smart ways.  It's clear that she's actually thinking about Angel and turning him human when she says the line "as long as you  have power... you're gonna feel the need to use it."

The slayers call Faith a grownup and she reacts very oddly, confused at being though of as responsible.  She sees Alasdair in the shadows and bails to talk to him.  At first she believes he's being a creep on the slayers, and then just a creep in general.  But then he reveals his true motivations for coming to Faith.
"Between the questions Angel asked, things I've heard about his activities, and his keen interest in the Mohra blood, I have... concerns.  Rupert's death was a tragedy.  But attempting to resurrect him would be a far greater one. ...  The forces Angel tampers with could bring disaster... even moreso in a world without magical defenses.  He must give up his mad quest.... He'd never listen to me.  But you... I can see you share my concerns.  Heed the warnings of one who knows, Faith.  It's imperative you stop him.  For all our sakes."
When Faith gets annoyed at another example of her needing to be the grownup, she asks what made her the responsible one all of a sudden.  Alasdair says that she made herself that way.  I love how much Faith has grown as a character, and it's funny to me that she's kind of realizing her own growth here, and doesn't have the faith in herself to be the responsible one, even though she is.

Angel and faith infiltrate Fraser's house, where he is auctioning off Mohra blood.  Through clever playing of the crowd, they are able to get Fraser to wheel out the Mohra he has captive.  They take their chance and free the Mohra demon from his magical bindings.  Angel gives him a sword so they can fight their way out, but the Mohra chooses to kill itself before Angel can stop it.  Faith grabs as much of the Mohra blood as she can while Angel tries to fight everyone off.

Suddenly, everyone is thrown to the ground, and Pearl and Nash arrive.  You know, as much as don't care for their characterization as villains, I have to admit that they are really good antagonists for this story.  They are a direct product of Angel's actions as Twilight, and every wrong they do is the result of his actions.

Angel starts to fight Pearl and Nash, and Faith makes her decision:
"For two hundred and fifty years, he's been creating monsters... Drusilla, Spike... worse.  Then having to deal with them.  That stops now.  I'm gonna help him get rid of these monsters, then I'll get rid of one myself.    Him."
I love this comic!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 169-170

A doodle for yesterday and today.

First up is a drawing of my girlfriend Alicia.

And second is a sketch of an Albertosaurus skull.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 165-168

So Thursday was my friend Scott's birthday.  And I had planned on doing a doodle for him, but then I got really busy because I had 3 tests on Friday and decided that studying for those would probably be a good choice and so it didn't happen.  Then I was really lazy all weekend.  But here it is finally.  Happy belated birthday, Scott!

A flame on a mountain.

Some weird creature.

And finally, a triceratops kleenex box.  Proud to say I used no reference material for this drawing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 163-164

A couple quick ones for you tonight.  A drawing for yesterday and for today.

First is a sketch of a dolphin.

And some sort of hard boiled detective character.  I quite like this one.

Oh, and by the way, I just realized that I am over halfway through the doodle-a-day project!  Wow.  Isn't that incredible?  And I still have yet to go over my limit of days.  Neat!  Here's to another six months of doodles!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 156-161

Let the days get away from me once again.  Here's another batch of 6 doodles.

First up are a pair of Dilophosaurus.

Then a cat into dog machine.

The undead hoards have united with the unicycle hoards.  The horror!

A cell phone water bottle spoon.

I wasn't trying to draw my friend Sarah, but I was talking to her on skype and she kind of snuck in when I wasn't paying attention.  It's not exactly like her, but if you know her you will probably see the resemblance.

And, finally, a meeting of bears.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Buffy Season 9 No. 2

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 No. 2
Freefall, Part 2

I have to say, I'm liking this.  I still think that Angel & Faith's first two issues have been stronger than Buffy's, but there were always times on the series when Angel pulled me stronger than Buffy, and vice versa, so this isn't necessarily a knock at Buffy.  And it is just really nice to be able to sit down with these characters again.  I noticed that today after I got my comic: just how enjoyable it felt to sit back to read this issue.  That's a feeling I lost during Season 8.  When every new issue was a stressful experience because I was constantly concerned I would be disappointed again.  Not here though.  Season 9, while not perfect, has still felt like Buffy and has made me as excited as I used to be.  Which is awesome.

Now, without further ado, I will actually talk about the issue.

We open on our two cops in an alley filled with dead people.  Not a lot of time spent on them here, just a few panels that serve to remind us of this story.  Then we jump back into the action that we left on last issue, with the student loans demon.  There is a very strange panel here, with Spike laughing except he doesn't look like he's laughing at all.  It's very strange.

Buffy pays as much as she can, which isn't even enough to cover the first payment, and we learn what happened to all the money she stole last season: she returned it when Riley negotiated amnesty.  So that's nice.  I'm glad that's not hanging over us as much any more.  It's still a tough question of morality that I'm not sure ever got dealt with satisfactorily, but the plot device itself would just be dead wait now.  Besides, the conflict about the seed is a much more interesting way of handling the question of "for the greater good," so I'm happy about saying goodbye to Buffy Summers, International Jewel Thief.

Speaking of which, I'm really not that happy with Willow right now.  I understand that she's in pain and that she has lost a part of herself and that she is genuinely concerned for the world here, but is still just seems like she just wants to make Buffy feel bad.  Which, um, okay?  That's being a good friend, Willow.  What really annoys me is that she basically tells Buffy that she is being selfish and that she's only thinking about how destroying the seed affected herself.  Um... what?  I'm sorry, but this just doesn't seem fair to me at all.  Buffy destroyed the seed to SAVE everyone.  Not so much with the selfish.

I'll concede that Willow may very well be right about a world without magic being empty and Buffy needing to deal with fallout.  But that doesn't really excuse the fact that she's not really being a very good friend here. She isn't telling Buffy anything she needs to be doing, just that she's not doing it.  She isn't trying to make things better, she's just trying to make Buffy feel worse.  So, yeah.  Not so much with the Willow love right now.

Willow leaves and Spike proceeds to warn Buffy about the someone that's out to get her.  Gotta say, I think that at this point this is a really poor way to build suspense.  How many times has Buffy heard about some mysterious thing that's coming at this point?  I'll worry once we actually know what is after Buffy.

Speaking of a devil, the demon that escaped last issue goes to Buffy's room, calling her out as the destroyer of magic and discovering that she is a vampire slayer.  It's still not clear who's side this guy is on, and they are still trying to keep us guessing about his nature.  He doesn't kill Buffy's roommate when he walks in, instead choosing to bail out of the window.  I am a little intrigued by this guy, and looking forward to seeing more of him.

We cut to our two detectives in the morgue with all the bodies.  Mulder - I mean Detective Dowling - comes up with the theory that the bodies are vampires.  Interesting idea, but we will require an explanation for why they aren't dusting.

Buffy saves a dude from a vamp right then, as she thinks about how she needs to convince Willow that she did what she had to.  The guy offers to help, but she tells him to get lost.  She stakes the vamp, only to be held at gunpoint by a cop.  Honestly, thinking about it, I'm kind of surprised this situation never happened once during the show.  It's an interesting beat.  "Turn around and drop the... stake?"

Buffy is then interrogated by the two cops, who know she is a slayer, but don't seem to know how important she has been in recent events.  I think Buffy's thoughts nicely sum up what is interesting about this bit:  "What does the real world have against me?  And why doesn't it want me to live in it."  I think this might actually be a key theme of this season.  How difficult it can be to live in the "real world."

It's so strange to see these detectives trying to defend the lives of these vampires, their "victims."  The girl cop (do we know her name?) accuses Buffy of killing the vampire from earlier to which Buffy corrects that the term is slayed.  (I think the distinction between 'kill' and 'slay' has always been really important to Buffy.  She doesn't want to be a killer.  I'm reminded of Riley in her dream in Restless, calling her killer.)  It's so weird that this detective woman talks to Buffy this way about SLAYING A VAMPIRE.  I mean come on.  The fact that the public is so ill-informed about vampires is so strange to me.  To the point where they don't even know that they go poof when they die.

Anyway, Detective Dowling seems to believe Buffy, but the woman is much less trusting and insists on keeping her.  Of course, Buffy escapes, which actually probably wasn't the smartest move considering they knew exactly who she was and where she lived and everything.  But I can sympathize.  She's not really used to playing "in the real world."

She decides to go to Dawn and Xander, where she finds that her face is already on TV and she's wanted and dangerous.  She decides that if she is going to clear her name she needs to find the person who is actually responsible for the bodies.  Which is a neat idea, but... it doesn't just make a whole lot of sense.  She still just escaped from the police and is a fugitive.  Bringing in the actual guilty person won't make that other stuff go away, will it?

She tries to stay with Dawn and Xander but they turn her down.  It seems they are in the middle of some kind of domestic squabble we are not privy to.  I have to say that I'm kind of disappointed in them right now.  Buffy is clearly not in a great place right now, can't they put aside their argument for long enough to help her out?  I mean, she's Buffy's sister and Xander's long-standing close friend.  Really guys?  You're going to just let her crawl back out that window?  Buffy ends up being kind of cranky, and I'm totally on her side on this one.  Her friends are all being pretty rotten to her right now.  Willow just wants to make her feel guilty about something she didn't have a choice in, and now Xander and Dawn are too busy living their lives to give her a place to sleep when she has nowhere to go.

It seems the only person who is totally on her side is Spike.  We get a really nice scene between the two of them on some rooftop.  Now, I want to be clear here that I am not an obsessive Spike fan.  I like the guy, and I think he is a great character that has a slight tendency to become more prevalent than he needs to be.  I like the interactions he and Buffy have and I think it's nice that they get to have another one here.  I like that Buffy is clearly appreciative of Spike for being there for her.  I just wish my man Xander would get his act together and be a good friend too.

Buffy rescues the same guy from earlier and saves him from a vamp once again.  He insists that he can help and that he's a slayer too.  (Sorry pal, they're all women.)

She chases another vampire down an alley, where she is cornered by at least a dozen more.  I really liked this panel, with all the vampires as silhouettes and their eyes and teeth visible.  I thought it was neat.

Suddenly, the dude saves Buffy from the vamp by turning him back into a human.  And... also killing him.  Hmm.  Interesting.  While it's kind of neat, it seems less efficient than the normal way.  I mean... this way you have a bunch of bodies on your hands where before you just had nice sneeze-inducing dust.

The issue ends on Buffy saying she would be okay if this guy made it so she didn't have to slay anymore.  Poor girl.  She's really having a rough time adjusting into this "real world."  She feels like her chosen-one-itude is the thing that is preventing her from being able to have a normal life, and even sees a mysterious stranger with strange powers as a potential way out.  Interested to see how this plays out in the next issues.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 155

Got a brand-spanking new doodle for ya today.  I'm actually pretty proud of this one.  Broke out the watercolor pencils again and did a quick doodle of a monkey.  Afterwards I decided to go over it again with a graphite pencil and I quite like the result.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 152-154

A few drawings to finish off the weekend.

First up is a sketch I did of Rankin Hall.  I didn't get a chance to finish it because I had somewhere to be, but I didn't want to try and finish it after the fact, so this one is forever incomplete.  My favorite part is the birds on the roof.

Next up is a very quick sketch of my friend Colin McRae.  Like the one of Alicia a couple days ago, I tried to see how fast I could do this one.  I actually kind of like it, though his expression doesn't really match the photo.

And finally, a polar bear.  Being awesome.  Because that's what polar bears do... like full time.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 146-151

Man, here we are again.  And I was so hoping I wouldn't go the maximum number of days this week.  Oh well.  I tried to do some more complex drawings this week to make up for the fact that many of the most recent ones have been very sketchy.

This first one is of my good friend Holly Cooper (no relation, probably.)  I tried to change things up a little bit for this one and instead of a blank white background I tried to do this... stripey... thing.  I'm not really sure how well it works, but hey can't I try something new for a change?

Another architectural one.  Pretty proud of the detail and precision on this one.

Random guy I found a picture of on the internet and thought was funny.

I'm trying to do this new thing where I sketch people very quickly.  I've been practicing doing the same thing with objects for quite some time and I think I'm getting quite good at it.  However, people are more difficult because it is usually pretty difficult to capture their likeness quickly.  Nevertheless, it is a skill I want to try to build, as I think it will help my more involved drawings.  This one is of my girlfriend (the photo is old, she has short hair now.)  I got the body pretty well, but I really had to work to not slow down for the face.  It definitely shows, the likeness isn't nearly as close as I would like.  But I am going to count it as a success considering that I did it so quickly and that it looks MOSTLY like her.  She'll forgive me, I'm sure.

Also, that look she has (the why-are-you-such-an-idiot-look)?  She gives me that look all the time.

A quick mountain lion.  I really like big cats lately.

And, finally, a cartoon ninja.

Well, that's it for this week.  And I would like the record to show that I still haven't gone over the limit of days I set for myself.  And I don't plan to.  Hopefully you will be seeing another Doodle-A-Day post before another 6 days have gone by.