Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Things Are Heating Up In Hell

What Is It?: Angel- After the Fall: Issue #2 (written by Brian Lynch, plotted by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch). It's canon.

Timing: Directly following After the Fall: Issue #1.
Warning: The bigger spoilers will be written in black text. Simply highlight to read. As this is a review, there will be some minor "spoilers" sprinkled throughout the text that don't warrant being hidden. If you have not read the issue and don't want to know anything about the plot, don't read this.

REVIEW: Get your "Live Fast, Die Never" soundtrack ready to play in the background. Go to youtube and pick your favorite "Angel: Season Six" opening credits to play after the sixth page reveal. This is an experience that fans will want to enjoy, because this comic maintains the momentum that Brian Lynch started in the flawlessly scripted first issue. Though this time around we get less pages (the five extra pages in the first issue was a gift, really), I didn't even notice it. This issue bursts with content: We've got awesome fight scenes, great character interaction, and the return of the other ensouled vamp that everyone's been asking about. Not to mention the return of (SPOILER:)the most interesting character that Joss Whedon never got the chance to dwell on. That's right baby. Enter- Blue Thunder.(/SPOILER)

I don't want to keep comparing this series to "Buffy-Season Eight," which is wonderful as it is, but there is something I'd like to address. A lot of people are taking issue with the fact that Joss Whedon is keeping us in the dark with many of his plots. There are still so many questions that, ten issues into the series, haven't been answered. Why is Dawn a giant? Where has Willow been, and what's up with her crazy new powers? When is this series set? Not to mention that we just found out who Floaty Boots from Issue #1 is at the end of #9. I find the slow discovery very exciting (I think Joss was inspired by slower movement of the arc from his favorite show, Veronica Mars) but I can also see why people are getting antsy to find out. Some even said that this takes away from their reading experience. This is not the case with After the Fall. In this issue, we get heaps of answers to the questions posed in issue #1 (What was that glowy orb that Gunn took from Kr'ph? (Kinda:) How was Gunn sired? What is Spike up to? What's up with Spike and all those babes? How is the Angel/Connor relationship going to be? How does Angel feel about Wesley's sitch? We also kind of get an answer to the questions about the canonicity of Spike: Asylum. That doesn't, and probably won't, get a definitive answer, but Betta George alludes to having spent time with a vampire.

Oh and... to those with a magnifying glass more powerful than mine, you'll known the name of the Dragon in this issue. I'm stickin' with Ramon.

Now that I've BSed enough, allow me to get down to the juicy center of this review. The character's dialogue is, again, great. Spike and Angel's exchanges are classic, but who would expect any less? I have to note though, that I kinda felt like Gwen was talking like she was Faith. Perhaps it's because I haven't seen a Gwen-centric episode in quite some time, but I'm not sold on her dialogue yet. Everyone else that speaks in this issue is spot on, particularly Connor (who didn't have much in the way of a speaking part last time). Lynch continues to shine in his depiction of Spike, introducing him with a scene sort of mirror the time where Angel tells tales of his brave, brave conquests in Pylea. And, for the first time in... ever, the character I was most excited to see is Gunn. If you thought his character arc in Season Five was his biggest and most interesting yet, just hold up a second. His dilemma (nah, it's not just 'grr I'm a vamp, Angel dies and women are eaten!') is something I could have never thought up in my wildest and most badass dreams. While other characters get more page time in this issue than in the first, but Angel is still very much the center of the action and the core of the story. Angel, the man and the series, are in very good hands.

A lot was riding on this issue. It had to keep pleasing those who loved Issue One and sell the series to those unconvinced by Issue One (we never speak of them). No doubt in my mind that people will still complain (see the ART section), but if they didn't this wouldn't be the Buffyverse. For those that aren't LOOKING for reasons to dislike the issue--there are many of these people out there--these twenty-two pages are another treat.

Art: The art from Issue One wasn't very popular with a number of Whedonesquers and other reviewers. People didn't like the dark "muddy" style, and--while I didn't 100% agree--I also thought that the colors could be better. Urru's style vibes much better with the new colorist in this issue, who makes the pages brighter and more vibrant without spoiling the very dark mood of the series. Those who didn't like the art of the first issue will be sold by this issue. However, those people that won't be happy are the ones complaining about the boobage in the comics. I'll break it down character by character. Nina... I'd risk castration by Whedonesquers by saying that her bust size isn't exaggerated by much. People seem to call "gratuitous!" about as quickly as they forget how the actress actually looked. Jenny Mollen isn't Sarah Michelle Gellar. Hell, she isn't even Charisma Carpenter. She has always had the biggest breasts in the series, and her new wardrobe (due to the sun/moon situation) just extenuate them. (RANT:)Her appearance in this issue is a LOT less gratuitous than the male nudity we got throughout the television run of the show and it doesn't even compare to the way that the people complaining about enhanced sexuality are the same ones writing erotic fanfic.(/RANT) *Sigh* Okay. Now about the other characters. Gwen does indeed have bigger boobs than she did in the series, by quite a long shot. She has always been a highly sexual character, but she was never half the size she is here. While it's certainly not a big deal, I think those people complaining about Nina would have more of a case if they brought up Gwen. She, so far, is the only character to be chestually enhanced. People will also take issue with the demon babes, but... that's their thing. Again, the show was highly sexual at times, often showing male nudity at a 4560:1 ratio to female nudity. I urge people to ease up and try to enjoy a story that is very much going places.

Rating: 10/10


Beyond this point, there be UNCOVERED spoilers. The following sections are the "Characters We Know" and "Speculation" sections, all of which are VERY spoilery. If you don't want spoilers, then don't read past here.


Characters We Know: Angel, Wesley, Nina, Connor, Gwen, Gunn, Spike, Illyria

Lynchverse Characters We Know (from the "Spike" series, newly introduced 'mightbemajors'): Betta George, Spider

Speculation: So Gunn still fancies himself a good guy. A good guy with a disease. I'm loving the idea, especially the "Don't call me a vampire" stuff, which brings to mind John Locke's heartbreaking "Don't tell me what I can't do!" cries. I'm not even going to begin to speculate on what Gunn has coming for him, because the reveal of his "motivations" shocked me enough to just sit back and let the comics tell his story. Last time, I said this about Spike: "My speculation is that Spike has somehow become one of the LA Lords." Well, it's true. Spike is indeed the Lord of Beverly Hills, and he's also Illyria's "pet." I don't know how he is both a Lord (high connotations) and a pet (low connotations), but I'm guessing that he and Illyria are both Lords of the area. Spike's dialogue ("I didn't rise from prisoner to prisoner with benefits to protector back to prisoner with benefits to Lord, just to have you come and muck it up") makes me think that the one who imprisoned him was Illyria herself, who subsequently decided that she liked him enough the "promote" him. Speaking of dynamic duos, I feel like Angel and Connor are going to have a LOT of screen time together. Their shared scene is one of the best in the comic and has further elevated Connor in my books. He was once the worst character of the series, brought up to 'tolerable, pretty cool' in Season Five, and now... You know the rest. I'm glad to have a name to put to the glowy orb (The Eye of Ramras) and a breakdown of what it can do. With Gunn in possession of the EoR, things are going to get hectic fast. And I'll be strapped in for every minute.

Now, I reiterate...

-------------END OF SPOILERS-----------

Rating: 10/10 Classic.


PatShand said...

I don't have a Whedonesque name, so I'll answer to comment's here:

DaddycatALSO said: "Okay, first; "That's right, baby. Enter . . ." (at the risk of sounding like my ex-wife whenever our daughter mentioned Mufasa) WHO?

And why in "blae bluzes" wouldn't the back button bring me out of there and back to "We-don't-ask"? "

Because I have a poll on my site. The poll somehow prevents that when it is active. Just hit the back button twice and you'll be back to Whedonesque. And what about "WHO?" huh?

Triviales Wissen said...

Blue Thunder also looked a little chest-enhanced, IIRC. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

PatShand said...

Really? I thought her chesticles were pretty much the same as Amy Acker's. Amy is definitely in the smaller group, but she also isn't flat. What I did notice about Urru's Illyria is the Shakira hips. In this situation, I think the larger hips and the smaller waist is a good idea. Illyria doesn't always look feminine (David Messina's variant for #1, anyone?) so I think it's important to give her that distinguishing female quality. The hips, not the chesticles.

Thomas said...

Cool site, this.

If there ever was a TV character who fits right in as a boob-enhanced comic book character, it is surely Nina.

And I agree about Gwen's dialogue not being quite right. In this issue she struck me as talking like a generic Joss character, not having a particular voice of her own. I'm wondering when she's going to get to do something interesting -- she and Nina make a cute pair of sidekicks for Connor, but I hope Lynch brought back the character with a greater purpose than providing eye candy and exposition.

I freaking love Urru's twisted dirty art style -- not the absurd female curvature especially, but the overall look -- very intense.

PatShand said...

CAPTAIN B said... "Hated first issue. Had to give second a shot. Liked it enough to come back for three. Much better characterization and clear storytelling. But even for Angel, the LA in Hell, terrorized by outlandish demons, but look at all the boobs is a little too much for me. Still needing an explanation about why ghost Wes is (seemingly) suddenly Angel season two Wes again... "

Well Brian DID explain that... He said that Wes looks like Season *1* Wesley as a punishment from W&H.

Anonymous said...

"Well, it's true. Spike is indeed the Lord of Beverly Hills, and he's also Illyria's "pet." I don't know how he is both a Lord (high connotations) and a pet (low connotations), but I'm guessing that he and Illyria are both Lords of the area. Spike's dialogue ("I didn't rise from prisoner to prisoner with benefits to protector back to prisoner with benefits to Lord, just to have you come and muck it up") makes me think that the one who imprisoned him was Illyria herself, who subsequently decided that she liked him enough the "promote" him."

This is the last straw!!! Fuck Joss Whedon and lame ass "Angel: After the Fall". Goddammit!

PatShand said...

"This is the last straw!!! Fuck Joss Whedon and lame ass "Angel: After the Fall". Goddammit!"

You're cool.

In a, you know, not cool way at all. I assume that you're a Spike fan who is worried about your character.... Well, if you had read the comic, you'd see that we only get one short scene with Spike, and virtually *nothing* is explained. You're writing the series off for that is kinda crazy, because think about it like this. Before Season Five, the statement "Angel will be the CEO of Wolfram and Hart in LA" sounds like a crazy idea. Well, it made one of the most brilliant seasons of television, period.

I understand your frustration. I think you're lame, of course, for that lame ass comment, but I get why you're worried. But you have to think about it like this. In television terms, the amount of story we get in comics is roughly fifteen minutes long. That's it. The story will develop. We will learn more about Spike's situation. Brian Lynch (the man who is writing this comic, not Joss) has done two wonderful, very in-character Spike series. You don't have to worry about that character.

You do have to worry that temper though. My, my. A chill pill is in order.