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Angel & Faith

Christos Gage - "Angel & Faith" Comic Book - Issue 20 - Slayalive.com Q&A

Tuesday 9 April 2013, by Webmaster

1. SueB: Mr Gage, thanks for talking. I loved this latest issue. In #19 Faith called Spike/Angel "frenemies" and in #20 a "bromance". Although I don’t think Spike and Angel would ever acknowledge it, I see them as "family". How would you describe the Spike/Angel complex relationship?

Christos: I think family is a good description. They are tied together by something other than choice…their “vampire DNA,” as it were, and now the fact that they are the only two (known) vampires with souls. They probably understand each other on certain levels better than just about anyone, yet are also remarkably clueless about each other (and themselves) on other levels. And they can be pretty damn mean to each other, as well as extremely helpful. It is indeed a complex relationship, but I think you’re right that “family” says it best.

2. Bamph: Welcome back. Appreciate you doing this Q/A.First I want to give a shout out to your Superior Spider-Man Age Of Ultron issue also out this week and I’m greatly looking forward to your co-writing gig with Dan Slott on the upcoming Superior Spider-man arc.

Here’s my question.

As I’m sure you know, this issue and last is causing major controversies on the characterzation of Spike and the whole soul vs soulless debate in regards to Angel/Angelus and Spike being seperate beings. I thought your work with Spike has been fun and had a Angel season 5 vibe. So my question is what is your take on Spike’s characterzation in these two issues and where his head space is at following the first part of Buffy in season 9 and his own mini?

Christos: For me it’s part of a whole. In BTVS we see one aspect of Spike. He’s being brave and selfless, pushing Dowling and Buffy together because he thinks it’s what’s best for her even though it clearly hurts him, offering to raise her child with her, etc. In his mini, which I think Victor wrote brilliantly, we saw Spike really think about his relationship with Buffy and himself, and make some great strides as a person. In A&F, we’re seeing the less mature side. The side that’s exhausted with being good and brave and mature, and wants to get into a good brawl and get drunk and get laid. Yes, Virginia, you can be in love with someone and have sex with someone else, especially if the person you love doesn’t want to be with you. Part of the reason Spike acted this way is that being around Angel seems to bring that side of him out. Part of it is that he figures he’s got some opportunity. Faith has implied a sexual interest in him before (Season 6, also the body-switching episode). Yes, he turned down Morgan in the mini, but I think there are reasons for that beyond “I must save myself for Buffy.” One, as a Succubus, there’s danger there…she admitted she was trying to manipulate him. Two, it sounded to me like she was offering more than a roll in the hay. (“We could have been this century’s power couple.”) Anyway, the upshot is, like Shaft, Spike is a complicated man. In A&F, we saw a side of him that we didn’t see in the other books, but I think the guy from the other books is still in there and we saw flashes of him too. (Like when he told Alasdair not to leave Giles’ body “like that.”)

As for my take on what a vampire is: In the Buffyverse, a vampire is created when the essence (or some part thereof) of a demon enters a dead human’s body. But that vampire is not the demon’s persona; nor is it the dead person’s. It seems to be a new persona that’s kind of amalgam of the worst/least inhibited parts of the dead human and the demon. (Remember when Alternate Future Vampire Willow came back and Real Not Yet Gay Willow observed she was “kinda gay” and someone said vampires have no connection to their human hosts and Angel was like, “Actually…”) So I don’t think you can say Angelus and Angel are completely separate beings, but they’re not the same being…Angelus is Angel’s dark side without the good parts. Spike’s soulless side seemed to have more of William’s good parts, and it’s interesting to speculate on why that is…maybe William’s bad parts were more tied in with his good parts?

3. Maggie: Hi Christos,

You’ve said you like the season 5 vibe between Spike and Angel. I’m not sure which vibe you’d mean, since in fact the dynamic between the two characters evolved over the season. But my question is about why you would think that the dynamic wouldn’t have changed even more in the wake of the Twilight event. At a minimum, Angel has screwed up in a major way. At worst, Angel was trying to murder Spike when last they meant. (How you view it depends on how much of a wedge you want to put between Angel and Twilight, which itself is problematic... since I think a lot of the power of Angel’s story is being lost every time the story wants to deny/minimize Angel’s responsibility for what happened). But either way, the dynamic should have shifted. Spike’s got a far better track record with his soul than does Angel, and at some point that has to undermine the big (wiser) brother, younger (foolish) brother dynamic that most would take to be the "fun" season 5 vibe between the two.

Christos: By the time Spike came along in Season 8, Angel was pretty much possessed by Twilight. At the end of BTVS #38 – the “Angelus!” “Twilight.” bit – I think it’s pretty clear…at the very least, Spike doesn’t see him as “Angel.” So I don’t think Spike holds a grudge against Angel for trying to kill him. But yes, certainly, Angel has screwed up in a major way. I totally agree that Spike has a better track record with a soul than Angel. He has a better track record WITHOUT a soul than Angel, too. And yet, somehow Angel still seems to just get this role of “the great cosmic love of Buffy’s life” anyway. If I was Spike, that would piss me off…and make me insecure as hell. WTF? What did he to do deserve it? What did I do NOT to deserve it?

I don’t agree that the Angel Season 5 dynamic between Angel and Spike was big/wiser brother vs. younger/foolish brother. I think it was two brothers with the same “genes” – i.e. vampire with a soul, similar backgrounds – approaching life in two very different ways, slinging attitude at each other, and secretly envying each other. Imagine two brothers, one who is a happily married, settled family man, and the other who is a swinging bachelor with a new girl every day of the week, and when they’re feeling low or tired or frustrated they look at the other and think, “Lucky bastard.” For me, there’s something of that in the Angel/Spike relationship – each looks at the way the other is approaching being a vampire with a soul and envies it, even though they wouldn’t want it for themselves, and will outwardly condemn it. I think the dynamic between them HAS changed since Angel Season 5, probably in ways they don’t even realize yet, but it hasn’t changed completely. I’ve changed a lot since 1993, but put me in Vegas with an old buddy from school and I might not act like it.

4. Vampire in Rug: The Crown of Coils was mentioned to restore dead flesh. Could it be used to turn a vampire human? Or does it only work on decomposing flesh?

Christos: It could not turn a vampire human, no. It can knit together wounds and restore decomposing flesh, but it cannot turn dead flesh living again. It’s not as powerful as Morah demon blood. I would also think it needs some basis of flesh to work with…for example, I don’t think it could restore a 300 year old skeleton to full fleshy glory.

5. Moscow Watcher: Is Faith supposed to talk to herself on the panel where she offers to dust Angel? Or it’s somebody’s mistake?

Christos: No, that one balloon should have pointed to Spike. We usually catch this sort of thing between me and editorial, but it looks like this one slipped by. Sorry.

6. A good number of fans, of which I am one, were very unhappy with Spike’s portrayal in A&F. He seemed to have reached a mature progressive place at the end of his mini and that now feels undone. Sure he showed that he wasn’t stupid during this last issue but that was little consolation and totally overshadowed by him referring to his unsouled self as ’not such a bad sort’ (which belittles his appreciation of the difference and the seriousness of the catalyst which had him seeking his soul in the first place), implying Buffy preferred him unsouled with him wondering if she wanted the monster (which does the same to the catalyst reason and just totally ignores the actuality of both the negativity in their relationship in S6 and the development they actually made in S7, development which in itself showed how much the changes he made drew them closer) and then let Angel behave like a pimp to get him in touch with someone he has previously mistreated so that he can use her again for sex (behaviour which he had realisation on in AtS5 and was unnecessary as he could have had a hook up with someone he had no past history with) and, oh yeah, she is also soulless. Can you give any insight into why it was felt necessary to portray his character this way? What was the intent and the thinking? Not just behind the characterisation but that some development fundamentals of his main show arc were undone/contradicted and pulled apart like this?

Christos: To go back to my Vegas metaphor, if I mature and learn some things about myself and get to a good place, and then I run into an old friend from college and spend a night getting drunk and acting irresponsible the way I used to, that doesn’t “undo” my maturation. Everything in Spike’s miniseries happened. Referring to his unsouled self as “not such a bad sort” was both a comparison to Angelus (who was a lot worse) and sort of sour grapes, as was his implication that Buffy preferred him that way. Of course he knows he was a monster without a soul. I think Spike especially (and Faith too) is a character whose words you can’t always take at face value, especially in this story. Spike obviously doesn’t want to lose his soul, nor does he regret getting it back. We see that in the fact that he’s afraid to fight demons that could suck out the soul, making him a monster again. BUT, it’s got to bother him that Buffy was willing to have a sexual relationship with him when he was soulless and not now. I get that the sex between them back then was Buffy’s expression of her own personal issues, not healthy, not romantic, etc., and Spike knows that too…consciously. But for guys especially, sex is often seen as an expression of a woman caring about/valuing them. So even though Spike knows intellectually that “it’s not you, it’s me” with Buffy, and he’s glad she’s in a better place now, and he even seems to have concluded that she should have a relationship with a human (Dowling) because it’d be better for her, more normal, offering her the chance for kids, etc., it’s got to grate on Spike that she was willing to get closer to him when he was a “soulless monster” than now. (Again, I know there’s a difference between physical and emotional intimacy, and so does Spike, but knowing it and feeling it are two different things.) His line about “some might even have preferred me soulless” is a reflection of that. Here’s an example, using hypothetical random people without loyal fan bases. Two people who play in a band together are heavy into drinking or drugs, during which they have a hot but ultimately destructive/unhealthy sexual relationship. They get sober, and remain friends/bandmates, but the guy is romantically interested in the girl whereas she feels that to be sexually involved would be unhealthy and a bad idea. Intelletcually he knows she’s right, but a part of him thinks, “Damn, maybe I was just more fun/sexier/more interesting as an addict.” Which is tied in with the frustration that sobriety is hard, and there’s a bit of a longing for a time when he didn’t have to be strong and make the responsible choices. Does that make any sense at all?

As for Pimp Angel and Harmony, I really wish I’d had more room to get into this in the comic, but here goes. Angel gave Spike Harmony’s number, not the cheat code to her pants. A pimp forces or bribes a woman into having sex with a man she wouldn’t sleep with on her own. Angel just put them in touch, and Harmony made the choices she made from there. I think Harmony’s relationship with Spike is quite different than it’s been in the past. She is in a very different place than she was when she and Spike last met. And so is he. You’ll notice that in issue #20, at no time is Spike disrespectful or cruel to her, the way he had been in the past. (It’s pretty clear that Angel and Faith don’t think terribly highly of Harmony, but that’s because she’s a selfish, narcissistic, famous-for-being-famous celebrity – without a soul - not because she slept with Spike, or anyone else.) As we saw in issue #5, Harmony is now a world-famous celebrity, loved by countless millions, enjoying the perks of fame like sex with a succession of attractive men, including some dude who kind of looks like David Tennant and has the same first name. She’s not hung up on Spike any more, and they’ve actually come to something like friendship. With, on this occasion anyway, benefits. Angel has seen Harmony’s current life in issue #5. He knows Harmony seems to enjoy having sex just for pleasure and that such an encounter might boost Spike’s spirits. So he decided to put them in touch and see if it might be fun for both. Good idea or bad idea? More on that in the response to the next question.

7. Morphia: Hi Mr Gage

There was some good stuff in this issue (thanks for making Spike smart, I appreciate it), and some stuff I didn’t like at all.

With regard to the latter, the story makes a point of Faith saying to Spike that when he’s over Buffy, then he’ll get laid. And at the end he gets laid. Are you implying by this that you think - as Faith seems to, and as Angel openly states - that Spike really is so shallow that all it takes for him to get over Buffy is to have sex, it doesn’t matter who with?

For the record, I like Harmony, but I found those last two pages really skeevy, given Spike and Harmony’s previous history, and given that Angel so clearly has such a low opinion her (and of Spike), and thought Angel was very hypocritical to hook up Spike with Harmony and then act all disgusted when they did what he himself set them up to do.

Thanks for answering.

Christos: I think the disgust on the part of Angel and Faith was misinterpreted (which is my fault). They weren’t disgusted at the idea of Spike and Harmony having sex per se…they were disgusted at the prospect of having to listen to it for the next several hours. I have many friends who are couples who I adore, but I don’t particularly want to listen to them boink.

As to your first question, no, of course having sex doesn’t make Spike get over Buffy. Faith was definitely right about that. But Angel felt like Spike needed a confidence boost…needed to feel desired and wanted. If you remember when Angel was dating Nina, the werewolf lady, it’s implied he wasn’t in love with her – not when they slept together, anyway – because he didn’t experience pure happiness and lose his soul the way he did with Buffy, but that doesn’t mean their encounter and relationship was worthless…it seemed to make him feel better about both himself and life in general. I felt like both Angel and Faith were approaching Spike’s situation from their own experience…sex for Faith was a physical release, but it didn’t make her feel better about herself. With Angel it did. (I’m not saying that for Angel it was JUST the sex that made him feel better, but it did seem to make him realize he could be somewhat happy, if not completely happy.) So they are each coming to it from their own specific perspectives, which are different, which I think is interesting.

8. ThatEvilLawFirm: Hello! LOVE your writing on Angel and Faith. It has a VERY different feel to it than the show did, but that’s one of the things I love about it. I can’t wait for the next issue.

So this is probably more of a Buffy Season 9 question, but having recently had Willow in the mix and given the fact that the aim of the season is to resurrect Giles I think it’s somewhat applicable. Last we saw Willow in the book she was pretty pissed at Angel/Buffy for Giles’s death/the end of magic. In your opinion do you think it’s been explained that Giles was going to shatter the seed himself before Twi-Angel snapped his neck and how how do you think think that would have affected how she felt about said neck snappage?

Christos: Was Giles trying to destroy the Seed or attack Angel with the scythe? Or give it to Buffy? I forget the specifics…but regardless, I think that had Giles shattered the Seed and lived, Willow would have been mad at him. But if he was trying to shatter the Seed when he died, that doesn’t change her grief over his death, or her anger at Angel for killing him.

9. Serenity: Hi. Christos. I asked you a question about After The Fall last time you did a Q&A and you said only After The Fall was canon, could you please clear something up for me? When you say After The Fall is canon, does that include Spike: After the Fall and the After the Fall epilogue? Sorry for bringing up the dreaded C word. Also, I’d just like to say that you have saved Season 9 for me, I wish you would write all the titles. Thanks.

Christos: Thank you! The “canon” question is something that, to my mind, only Joss can answer. The way I have been proceeding is to not directly contradict anything in the IDW comics, unless there’s a compelling reason (which there has not been). For example, before using Gunn I messaged Brian Lynch about the eye he lost and Brian said it had been magicked back. At the same time, I have not been using anything in the IDW run outside of “After The Fall” as backstory. The idea being for readers, who continue to discover the comics daily (just as people are still discovering the shows for the first time), to have a (relatively) clear sequence to read: Buffy the show Season 7, the comics Season 8, 9, etc., and Angel the show Season 5, Angel ATF, Buffy Season 8, Angel & Faith. Not to invalidate the stories that aren’t included in that – Dark Horse still sells collections of non-season Buffyverse stories, as does IDW – but those are not part of the specific “seasons.” That’s the best I can do to answer the canon question.

10. TimeTravellingBunny: Hi Christos,

I was confused by some of Spike’s comments about Buffy in the previous issue and in this one. In the last issue, he said (more or less) that Buffy gave him a brush off for Dowling, which is not what happened at all. When Spike left, Buffy and Dowling had barely even talked to each other, Spike actually was the one seeing more of Dowling and having a friendship of sorts with him, and he was trying to push Dowling towards Buffy, since he believed Buffy needed a human and a "good guy". It’s only after Spike left that Buffy and Dowling started patrolling together, and even if we consider the stage they were in the last time we saw them together as "dating", how does Spike know about it? Then in this issue, he implied that Buffy liked bad boys, and complained about her dumping him for "the first brooding, tortured ponce" that came along. What did he mean by that? Buffy never dumped Spike in order to be some other guy, and I don’t know who he means. Maybe he believes that she’s with Dowling, but Dowling is a human and a good guy (and Spike considers him as such) and doesn’t seem either brooding or tortured. Are you implying that he still believes that Buffy was in a relationship with the Immortal?

Christos: I actually was thinking about the Immortal…I’d just recently watched “The Girl In Question” again. (I haven’t seen any indication that Spike is aware that it was a Buffy double who dated the Immortal.) But Spike was also talking about Angel, who Buffy went back to as Twilight, if only briefly…and to my mind that comment was also Spike hating on the person he was before he had a soul, who Buffy was willing to sleep with, unlike his current self. I realize Buffy didn’t dump Spike for any of the above, he was just venting…it seems that way to him. Regarding Dowling, Spike was indeed the one who was pushing Dowling toward Buffy, because he thought Dowling would be good for her. He was doing what he thought was best for Buffy. That doesn’t mean he’s happy about it. When he said she was “getting chummy” with Dowling that was more an expression of what he was afraid was happening than any actual knowledge of it. To my mind, the fact that he would push a relationship between Buffy and a man he believes is good for her even though it hurts him speaks very well of Spike. But he’s not a saint, it still hurts.


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