"Angel & Faith" has been a fun series -- in many ways surpassing parent comic "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9" -- but "Angel & Faith" #10 takes it a step further. Here, I'd go so far as to say that Christos Gage and Chris Samnee have created a comic that surpasses a lot of the episodes of the "Angel" television show.
The issue itself at first appears to be a simple enough one-off, as Angel and Faith (living in Giles' London home) meet Giles' two great-aunts, who quickly turn out to be there for more than a social call. What happens next is a perfect mix of action and humor, as the slightly bitchy duo of Lavinia and Sophie get grudging protection from our title characters.
If that's all we got in "Angel & Faith" #10, it would still be a lot of fun. Gage's dialogue is especially zippy and strong here; it's hard to not actually laugh at a lot of the little moments as barbs flight left and right even as the duo dispatches demon after demon. There's also a nice reminder here that the destruction of magic in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8" has far-reaching consequences, with predicaments like the ones that Lavinia and Sophie are in being just the tip of the iceberg.
Gage takes it a step further, though, and what could have been a throwaway story has in fact a lot greater meaning. It's that extra little punch (and we aren't even talking about the final page, here) that makes "Angel & Faith" #10 so good in the writing department. Gage gets to make us think that we're on a fun side story, but when it loops back in to the center of the series and we see the greater purpose, well, you'll appreciate the ride that much more.
If that's not enough, though, Samnee steps on board to provide some guest art for "Angel & Faith," and he's an artist who just keeps getting better with each new project. I love his art here; it reminds me a bit of artists like Tommy Lee Edwards with that blocky, thick ink line that Samnee uses. It's remarkably clean and uncluttered art, though; the transitions from one panel to the next are easy to follow and strong. Samnee completely understands how to get the most impact from Gage's script. For example, at the bottom of page 8, the final two panels flow wonderfully, shifting from the destruction of the tentacle to Angel and Faith looking up and their faces moving from startled to understanding. It leads in to the next page and the big reveal perfectly, and it's a reminder of why Samnee's such a good artist. As an added bonus, Samnee's characters all look like their television counterparts, but still remain loose and fluid. There's an energy here that you don't often see in licensed comics, and I'm that much more impressed as a result.
If you aren't reading "Angel & Faith" but were a fan of the "Buffyverse" over the years, this is the perfect introduction to the comic series. It gives you everything you need to know about what came before, as well as where the book is going; more importantly, it gives you a wonderfully written and drawn issue. Licensed sequels in comic form can be a difficult creation, but Gage and Samnee make it look easy. Joss Whedon fans, you need this comic.