I just read issue #15 of Angel&Faith: it's a very interesting issue and, somehow, it makes me think about the Dollhouse and the major themes in all the Whedonesque works.
My advice about S9 of Buffy and, generally, the comics is: be patient.
It's a long story and it's built issue after issue. If an author wants to explain a complex concept, he needs to work slowly. In the comic books character arcs can take years before get to the point. It's a very long run and the reader needs to be patient.
I just have one condition, of course: that Whedon will be always involved in the comicverse. If he takes off, I'm also going to take off.
Whedon is recently very busy with all the Avengers project - good for him! - and I honestly I don't see him take a long run with the Buffyverse in comics. Maybe he will give much more space to his fellow authors, but I personally consider canon only a work under his direct controll. Everyone is able to write a Buffyfic, otherwise.
That said, I find the latest Angel&Faith issue very interesting.
I think that one of the major theme in all the Whedon's production is the struggle between big corporations, big powers and tiny people, who need to fight and rebel in order to take back their agency and their freedom.
Dollhouse is a big example of this concept: the Rossum corporation is like a Senior Partner who wants to achieve control of the dolls and single rebellious individuals - like Echo, Ballard, Adelle, Sierra, Victor ... - fight against this much bigger than them power, to take back their agency and identity.
It's never about another big good power who fights back, it's always about single people.
In the S8, the only one who rebels against big powers fighting is Buffy, when she destroyed the Seed. It's an unpredictable act, powered only by emotion and against every kind of big plan or vision in the play. Buffy breaks the Seed and, immediately, the war is over and big powers need to take back their stuff and get the hell out of Earth. Suddently, all the energy powering Twangel is gone and Whistler finds himself like a sailor in the bottom of the Titanic.
Unpredictable act, single person.
Of course, there are consequences and reactions, as always in the Buffyverse, and S9 is kinda dealing with them.
Let's return with the big picture guy, here: Whistler, half good and half evil breed, is supposed to mantain the balance between the two big daddies of Earth (PTB and Senior Partners) and he's conveniently used by them to maintain a certain status quo.
But the status, as Doctor Horrible will said, is not quo! So Whistler decides to make the game a little better and to play another phase in evolution.
Again, it's all about big corporations/powers/people, who decide, at some point, to change the game.
The tiny people involved? We aren't giving them want they want, but what they need. And so, Whistler is giving Angel what he need - a reason to live, a new obsession - but he's also giving the Earth a new stage of evolution. Anybody asked for this? Nevermind and have faith in the big guy.
Angel's involved as fuck in this dirty busness because he's always been a "big picture guy". In Dollhouse, we saw that is dangerous to be like Topher, to serve a much bigger corporation who might want to take control of their people, but it's also dangerous to be like Caroline, to be an idealist who doesn't face the complex reality.
Angel, in a way, is idealist, just because he believes he knows better than everyone else, but he's also a huge tool like Topher, for both PTB and Senior Partners, because he's big picture guy, he's the hero in his own story.
He thinks about great stuff like: love forever and evolution and brave new world, but he doesn't listen the others, he doesn't take care of the single individual and doesn't listen to Buffy's opinions. He loves the concept of him and Buffy together, like he loves to be the hero in his own story, and, like Prometheus, who was guilty of hybris, he's always making the ball drop.
I believe that all his trust to Whistler and all his project as Twilight is a mistake and it's a big mistake because he clearly believes even now that he was trying to do a good thing. Taking back other people's agency, Buffy's agency, and decides for them.
It's obliviously a concept so fucked up I can't even, and it's obliviously another hard stone on the whole Bangel romance, since destiny and meant to be, in all the Whedon's works, are deeply creepy concepts.
Angel's involved with his own hero projection, he can't actually see how the real Buffy doesn't fit in the major plan. Like Whistler already knew, she's unpredicable and she tends to screw up the whole "destiny" concept.
Big flaw in an almost perfect plan. Sorry, Whistler!
As for Angel, the only hope for him is to open the eyes he always close in the crucial moments and to finally embrace the others power and agency as individuals and maybe find a side with Buffy, Spike and all the rebels against the great, mystic Dollhouse.
Ps: Did I said "big" many times, right?