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There’s a New Sheriff in Magic Town: Angel & Faith Season 10 from Dark Horse Comics

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Ever since Barnabas Collins bared his fangs for the 1960’s Gothic daytime soap opera, Dark Shadows, we’ve been enamored with repentant vampires. The idea of the ultimate bad-boy-turned-good by the love of a woman, captured our dark hearts. Like Barnabas, the path to true love never did run smooth for fellow repentant vampire Angel (created by Executive Producer Joss Whedon), and of course, there’s a twist to that epic love story as well.

 

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What it Was…

For those who are unfamiliar with the tale, Angel is a vampire cursed with a soul (in the Buffyverse vampires do not have souls, as a rule, with only two exceptions) by a group of vengeance-seeking gypsies, for the atrocities he has committed.  Now, feeling the full weight of the devastation he has wrought, Angel (once the worst of his vampire-kind – known then as Angelus / Liam – when he was human – who wasn’t that much better), seeks redemption for his sins.

When we first meet Angel (played by David Boreanaz – Bones) in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he is watching over Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar). OK, he comes off like a creepy stalker whose motives are unclear at first, but he means well.

Eventually, he joins Buffy and her friends in the fight against evil. Unfortunately, Angel makes the mistake of falling in love with the young slayer. In a moment of unbridled passion, Angel loses his soul again (part of the gypsy curse). A moment of true happiness turns Angel back into a soulless, heartless, mass-murdering monster.

Once his soul is restored, Angel knows he can’t stay with Buffy, as he can’t risk the demon within returning to destroy her and all those around her. The star-crossed lovers must part. Heartbroken, Angel removes himself from Buffy’s life and relocates to Los Angeles (the City of Angels – where else?) where he sets up Angel Investigations – a detective agency with a mission to protect the weak and the helpless.

Along the way, Angel meets Doyle (played by the late Glenn Quinn – Roseanne), a half-human half-Brachen demon, whose painful psychic visions aid Angel on his mission. By chance he also re-meets friend and former mean girl Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter – Veronica Mars), trying to make it big in Hollywood as an actress.

Later, Angel is joined by disgraced Watcher Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denishof – How I Met Your MotherGrimm), former-gang-member-turned-slayer Charles Gunn (J. August Richards – Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), super science geek Winifred ‘Fred’ Burkle (Amy Acker – Dollhouse, Person of Interest), and the green, karaoke-loving, telepathic demon Lorne (played by the late Andy Hallett).

When the TV series ended in 2004 (in the finale Not Fade Away), we were left with the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. Angel, along with fellow vamp Spike (James Marsters), Gunn and Illyria (the Demon taking up residence in Fred’s body), were left with Hell literally raining down upon them — a parting gift from the Senior Partners from the evil law firm of Wolfram and Hart (The Wolf, The Ram and The Heart).

With an army of demons bearing down upon them,  a dragon flying overhead, the loss of their friend, Wesley, and Gunn wounded, our four heroes stand, seriously outnumbered. The last thing we see is Angel, leading the charge. That image burned into our retinas. We were left staring blankly at the screen in disbelief. This couldn’t be the end, could it? I hadn’t been this upset by a series finale since the last episode of Blake’s 7… but I digress… as I often do. Sadly, we never saw Angel and company grace our screens again.

 

Angel and Faith Season 10 #1, ULTRA Variant cover by Rebekah Isaacs

Angel and Faith Season 10 #1, ULTRA Variant cover by Rebekah Isaacs

Our Dark Knight Returns…

Joss Whedon resurrected Angel in 2007 (then with comics from IDW Publishing) picking up where the TV finale left off.  For the last two seasons, Joss and Dark Horse Comics have teamed Angel up with Faith the Vampire Slayer (played by Eliza Dushku in the series) to continue their adventures. Faith has come back from the brink herself, and in her own way, is also seeking redemption for her sins. Both lonely souls bond, becoming allies and friends.

Season 9 of Angel & Faith saw the return of Rupert Giles, Buffy’s Watcher (played in the series by Anthony Stewart Head). Angel had killed Giles while under the influence of magic in Season 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, there was an unforeseen consequence to resurrecting our beloved Giles (formerly a middle-aged Englishman). When he returns, he comes back as a young, almost Harry Potteresque pre-teen, capable of wielding magic himself. As we have learned, magic can be unpredictable and dangerous at times. Welcoming Giles back to the world of the living comes with a steep price. Part of London is sacrificed in order to do it and now part of the city is flooded with magic and overrun with supernatural beings.

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Here Comes the Law…

When we return, we find our brooding hero, Angel, attempting to deal with the fallout from the previous season, in the section of London known as Magic Town.  As you can imagine, there’s plenty of brooding and self-recrimination that comes with that territory. Meanwhile, we transition over to Faith, who has joined Buffy and the Scoobies in Santa Rosita to help fight the dreaded “zompires” (zombie vampires), as we saw in the Season 10 opener of Buffy. Faith also delivers her comrades the greatest of all gifts in the form of a youthful Giles, though it pains her greatly to do so as she watches the joyful reunion from the distance, always the outsider.

For Season 10 of Angel & Faith, Victor Gischler and Will Conrad take the helm from the creative team of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs (who have moved over to the main Buffy comic) and with them they bring an intense, dark flavor that suits this series quite well.

Far less colorful and light-hearted in tone than Buffy, Gischler and Conrad match the look and feel of the Angel TV series. Will Conrad’s artwork captures the likenesses of the actors from the show (especially Boreanaz and Dushku) beautifully, and that alone had me hooked.  The story itself is fast-paced, with plenty of tension and drama. Though I found the transitions between Angel’s scenes and Faith’s a bit jarring, I blew through the issue quickly, and found myself disappointed when it was over so soon.

 

Andy Says…

The skilled team of Gischler and Conrad hit the opening issue out of the ballpark and left me wanting more. As a fan of the series, what more can you ask for? Angel & Faith Season 10 Issue 1 from Dark Horse Comics is out today at a comic book store near you.

A Freaky Friday @ Dark Shadows Fest 2011

Collinwood Rendered in a Brooklyn Zip Code


My name is Victoria Winters… well, no, it’s not, it’s Andy Melendez but it was a dark and stormy night over the Great Hotel Marriott, where Skeleton Pete and I attended the Dark Shadows Festival held here in Downtown Brooklyn this past weekend (August 18-21). It’s been a while since I’ve attended any kind of convention, but I have to admit, there was a feeling of “homecoming,” at least for me, when we arrived. These are my people. The Festival was celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the legendary cult TV series, created by the late Dan Curtis.

Impressions
I was surprised by the number of attendees for a Friday night alone (opening night tends to be light and a fun time to just explore without feeling too claustrophobic). I was even more surprised to learn that half of them had never been to a DS con before. Ah, “Convention Virgins,” I lost that distinction at 15 and have been a proud con-geek ever since… but I digress. For many others, it was like a family reunion… laughing, reminiscing and reconnecting with old friends.

I loved the setting created for the series’ stars onstage. It was a charming replica of the original Collinwood sitting room. I almost ran up there myself just to have a seat on the sofa and pretend I was having tea by the fireplace with the late Joan Bennett (Elizabeth Stoddard) or Grayson Hall (Dr. Julia Hoffman). The dealer’s room looked a bit sparse, but they were literally still unpacking as we arrived. I dare say most attendees were less concerned with memorabilia and more concerned with the honored guests in their midst, some of them already there, meeting convention goers and signing autographs.

Dark Shadows Memories
Fan favorites Lara Parker (Angelique Bouchard), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie Evans, Josette du Pres), Roger Davis (Peter Bradford, Jeff Clark), Jerry Lacy (Reverend Trask, Tony Peterson), Marie Wallace (Eve, Jenny Collins), Christopher Pennock (Jeb Hawkes, Sebastian Shaw), and Kathleen Cody (Hallie Stokes, Carrie Stokes), were all there to meet and greet the fans on Day One, many with new projects to talk about. Unfortunately, we missed Jonathan Frid (Barnabas Collins) and David Selby (Quentin Collins), as both were only scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Both Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott have new books coming out (both have been authors for some years now) — Lara has a third Dark Shadows novel coming out, and her first, “Angelique’s Descent,” is going to be re-released with a new 35-page chapter. Kathryn has been busy as well and her book, “The Bunny Years: The Inside Story of the Playboy Clubs and the Women Who Worked as Bunnies,” about her experience as a Playboy Bunny, has been co-opted for use in the upcoming NBC series, “The Playboy Club.” Lara and Kathryn noted rather cheekily, now is time to strike while the iron is hot, as things ramp up for the May 2012 theatrical film release of the Dark Shadows movie starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins. I have to admit, I was terribly excited to finally find out a release date for the film, as I hadn’t heard much since the news first broke. It was lovely to hear that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp asked the original series stars to film cameos for the movie. Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott, and David Selby were flown out to London to film at the legendary Pinewood Studios where they had a blast.

Highlights
I was thrilled to learn the first two theatrical releases of the Dark Shadows films, “House of Dark Shadows” starring Jonathan Frid and Kathryn Leigh Scott and “Night of Dark Shadows,” starring David Selby and Kate Jackson, were coming to DVD. Stars from the original film were invited back to do Foley work on “Night of Dark Shadows” so they could include 30 minutes of lost footage on the new DVD as part of a long-time plan to restore the film since the footage was recovered in 1999. That is set to coincide with the release of the 2012 film.

As a veteran of these things, the highlight of the evening for me was seeing the unfinished, never-before-aired pilot of the 2004 remake of Dark Shadows. I’d only heard about it and had exhausted all avenues to obtaining a copy (and believe me, I have many). The remake had been intended as a replacement for the WB series “Angel.” It was more than fitting, as Angel and many other repentant vampires owe their fangs to Barnabas Collins. Dan Curtis was also involved after his 1991 “resurrection,” with Ben Cross and Joanna Going, was tragically cut short after only one season. However, sadly, part way through filming the 2004 pilot, they lost their Director and with it, their direction.

Associate Producer, and convention organizer (as well as marketing director for Dan Curtis Productions and consulting producer on the new film), Jim Pierson, explained what happened with the pilot and I was sorry to hear it never saw the light of day. It was a shame, as it showed promise, had some creepy special effects and if it had kept the intention of the original series and Dan Curtis’ gothic vision, I think it would have found a home, and would have rivaled newcomers “Supernatural” and “Vampire Diaries.” A glaring omission, however, was the loss of the original series music. I don’t know if they intended to replace it later on, but the classic title theme was missing, along with “Josette’s music box,” and to me, as a fan, these are too precious to lose.

Pertinent Links:
Darks Shadows News
The 2004 Remake
The Dark Shadows Festival

Click any image to launch gallery.

Digesting Dark Shadows

Hermes Press's Colorful Cover to The Dark Shadows Story Digest Reprint

(Editor’s Note: Please welcome guest editor Adriana “Andy” Melendez to the SkeletonPete blog. On her first visit she offers a view of the recently published reprint of Gold Key’s Dark Shadows Story Digest. She’ll be back with us regularly to lend her expertise in all things vampiric, anglophilic and episodic.)

Interrupted Voyage
“The one you seek is here,” she said, “I do not know why he has returned through the shades of time to trouble me, but he is here and he must be destroyed!”

Hermes Press resurrects one of television’s all-time favorite anti-heroes, the repentant vampire, Barnabas Collins, with a reprint of the Dark Shadows story, “Interrupted Voyage” written by Donald J. Arneson. This digest was first printed back in 1970 as part of a series of stories released by Gold Key Comics.

What it is…
When I think of “Interrupted Voyage” I recall the 1980 sci-fi film “Somewhere in Time” starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve as tragic, star-crossed lovers from two different times — only with zombies, witches and vampires!

While attempting to escape the clutches of his spurned lover, the evil witch, Angélique Bouchard, Barnabas Collins pledges to save two young lovers from the curse of time that separates them, only to put his own life and immortal soul in peril by doing so. Can Barnabas save Annabella and her fiancée Michael from another witch, the raven-haired Calandra, while avoiding the curse Angélique has placed upon him?

Set in Salem, Massachusetts during the height of the hysteria of the infamous witch trials, “Interrupted Voyage” uses this backdrop to full effect, complete with suspicious, torch-bearing, angry villagers. This story often brings to mind some of the popular fanzines and fanfic stories I’ve seen in the last few decades, using both prose and illustrations by comic book artist Joe Certa to engage the reader.

Melodramatic at times and over the top, perhaps, even a bit camp… but that’s what Dark Shadows does best, mixing the supernatural – tales of ghosts and witches, with romance, and yes, even time travel, all with a heightened sense of drama. It pushes the boundaries of disbelief and makes you want to believe in that other world… the world beyond the veil. It’s a world where you can rewrite a wrong, find and reclaim a lost love and erase your deepest regrets. It’s a world where anything is possible and good can triumph over evil.

Andy says…
In spite of some niggling bits here and there — for example, the overuse of “dark shadows” to describe… well… just about everything that is vaguely mysterious or foreboding, as well as the plodding pace, I can forgive it. “Interrupted Voyage” is of its time and very much follows the formula of the original Dark Shadows serial. Perhaps it’s my nostalgic love for the 1960s gothic-horror TV series created by the late Dan Curtis, but I can see this story working quite well on screen.