Wednesday, January 16, 2008

: O

What Is It?: Angel- After the Fall: Issue #3 (written by Brian Lynch, plotted by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch).

Timing: Directly follows "After the Fall #2"

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: This issue was big on action. The majority of the issue is made up of action, starting with a fight between Angel and Illyria and then a fight between Illyria and Angel's dragon. As with any Buffyverse episode, the banter between the characters during the fight scenes was amazing. It was especially a treat to "hear" Illyria speak again.

Illyria: You're half of what you were.
Angel: I know

Illyria: I can find another pet, Spike. One who doesn't so obviously try to steal glances at me while I soak.

This issue is also really big on revelations. Everyone who was still worried about where Spike's character is headed--despite Brian Lynch's insistence that everything will be chill--see what is really up with their character here. I'm starting to think they should replace the title "After the Fall" with "Nothing Is What It Seems" (not seriously, though) because Spike--of course--didn't just decide to become a music video pimp. (Spoiler:) The fact that his Hugh Hefner act is just that, an act to cover up the fact that he is using his mansion to house people who he has saved, should settle all the Spike-lovers down. Also, Spike's drama sets up an interesting situation for Angel, who is conflicted in more ways than one. He is, though he'd never admit it, happy that Spike and Illyria weren't behind the murders in Westwood. He's beyond pissed off that Connor and Spike are palling it up, and also he's peeved at Connor's insinuation that Spike is saving more people than him. As if Angel didn't have enough on his plate already.

I was glad that the last few pages were less action, as the fight with Illyria was jarring on my first read. There is some time-slipping involved, and we get a glimpse at Liam, Puppet Angel, and Future Angel, all confused by present-day Illyria trying to kill them. Each of these versions of Angel gets internal dialogue/narration WHILE we're also reading (1) dialogue and (2) present-day Angel's narration. I didn't enjoy reading that as much as the other "After the Fall" stuff on my first try, but I immediately embarked on a second read-through. Now that I knew what was coming, I was prepared, and I got it and enjoyed it thoroughly. But yeah, back to the end of the issue. We see Angel and Wesley team up (sort of) to approach the Lords of LA, who are having a meeting to discuss the death of Burge's son at Angel's hands. As you could have guessed from the blurb of Issue #4, this issue ends with Angel issuing a challenge to the lords (some of whom we recognize, such as the hooded sorcerer from "Enemies" and the Loan Shark from "Tabula Rasa") to decide the fate of LA.

I gave the last two issues perfect 10/10s, which is rare for me. However, there were a few minors points taken away in this issue. I don't like that different characters keep repeating the same phrases (Connor/Spike: "bottom-feeder" .... Nina/Angel: "up-and-up") but that wasn't only in this issue. I only actually noticed it here. Gunn isn't here, and I understand that. It's just... he's become so interesting that I just need to know what he's up to. And, as much as I loved the Angel/Illyria fight on my second read, a half-point probably gets taken away for the huge amounts of narration. The issue, as a whole, could have benefited from less internal dialogue, because there was a lot of it. Though that half point is won back by (I never thought I'd say this) including that damn Loan Shark. That's a pretty ballsy move. Not only was the Loan Shark the cheesiest demon, who nearly ruined "Tabula Rasa," he's almost universally loathed by fans. It takes some, as Lindsey would say, brass testes to include him in this comic. Question is... does it work? Yeah, actually it does. The Loan Shark fits into this medium far better than television and he actually almost looks scary. Go figure, right? Once again, despite a little thing here or there, Brian, Franco, and Joss deliver.

Oh, and...

The issue ends with what is pretty much the biggest revelation/cliffhanger/thing in this history of not only Angel, but the entire Buffyverse. Holy crap.

Art: Franco draws an amazing Illyria. The couple of times we get a side-view of her face, I could have sworn I was looking at Amy freaking Acker. The expressions are perfect, and he pretty much just nailed the character. There is this one panel, where Illyria looks back at Spike after he tells her she's in no condition to fight the dragon. Her facial expression is, all at once, incredulous, "wtf," and "don't make me kick BOTH of your asses to prove you twice as wrong." On the other, less positive side of things, the few panels that are--for want of a better term--not close-ups, the character's faces are a bit distorted. A few more details would clear it up but, seeing as the 'regular' panels are so beautiful, I think the art would be more consistent if the farther away panels had the same quality.

Oh, speaking of quality... The quality (and weight) of the paper is back to normal. I don't know what happened with Issue #2, but Issue #3 has the same crispness of #1. That was a pleasant surprise.

Characters We Know: Angel, Illyria, Spike, The Dragon, Connor, Wesley, Loan Shark, Cloaked Sorcerer Demon from "Enemies"

Lynchverse Characters We Know: Spider, Burge

Speculation: I'm not even going to touch this one. All I can say is that.... Nah, can't even. You'll understand what I mean after reading the last page of this issue. It will leave you, like me, salivating for more. Best. Ending. Ever.

Rating: 9/10

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you needed the internal dialogue to understand that Blue Thunder's Time abilities were acting up in the hell diminsion. Also if you look at the future Angel he looks really old...factor in the last page and it all makes sense!

TobiasJeth said...

i stared at that last page for a good 15 minutes before i realized i was gonna be late for work... i am flabbergasted.

Thomas said...

I think it's a stretch to say that the Lord of Century City is the hooded sorcerer from Enemies. I mean, it's just some dude in a hood with glowing eyes. Like a Jawa only taller. I assume there are a few individuals looking like that in the Buffyverse.

Also, why do you separate "Lynchverse" characters from other characters we know? After The Fall is canon -- isn't it fair to say these characters are now part of the Buffyverse?

And, the last panel: yeah, flabbergasted. And "awesomed," as Molly from Runaways once put it. But also wondering how he has the use of his hands, after Illyria impaled them with multiple knives, if he's not a vampire?

ZOD said...

All that time everyone was so careful not to ruin the ending than Thomas did. Fortunatly I already read it.

Matt said...

I was a little tripped out by the whole time vortex thing. I wish there'd been a little more explanation (although perhaps I just need to re-read the issue again) considering that Illyria's time-altering powers have been gone since Time Bomb.

In all, I really enjoyed the issue, although I am a bit perplexed by Angel's new condition. Certainly he should have more trouble operating as a hero/champion/whatever given his circumstances, no? I mean, wasn't that the whole point of I Will Remember You, way back in Season 1? I can't imagine that Angel would even be able to walk after his tussle with Illyria, let alone carry an axe.

-M

PatShand said...

MY RESPONSES TO COMMENTS

THOMAS SAID: "I think it's a stretch to say that the Lord of Century City is the hooded sorcerer from Enemies. I mean, it's just some dude in a hood with glowing eyes. Like a Jawa only taller. I assume there are a few individuals looking like that in the Buffyverse."

Well yes, but you could also say that there are other species of Shark demons that wear tuxes. Until it is specifically said that it ISN'T the "Enemies" demon, I think that we are meant to believe that it IS him.

THOMAS SAID: "Also, why do you separate "Lynchverse" characters from other characters we know? After The Fall is canon -- isn't it fair to say these characters are now part of the Buffyverse?"

Firstly, because I feel like it.
Secondly, the "Characters We Know" section is a means to identify the character we know from the televised series that appear in the comic. In an earlier review,

I even said that I will eventually combine these catagories because, as you said, both are part of the Buffyverse.

But, until then, I think it is worth the teeny effort to separate them. A more literal title would be "Character We Know" and "Characters We Have Seen Before But Have Just Been Introduced In Early Issues of 'After the Fall' Or An Earlier Brian Lynch Comic Like Asylum Or Shadow Puppets" but I figured that would be too long.

Silly me, right?

"And, the last panel: yeah, flabbergasted. And "awesomed," as Molly from Runaways once put it. But also wondering how he has the use of his hands, after Illyria impaled them with multiple knives, if he's not a vampire?"

Notice, however, that Lynch didn't specifically say he was human. I agree with you, and I also noticed that a human wouldn't have the strength to fight the demons Angel did in Issue #1, floor Spike with a punch, or throw a stake through a demon's eye. I'm thinking he still has supernatural powers, but I just can't tell to what *extent*. We'll find out soon.


-----------------------------

ZOD SAID: "All that time everyone was so careful not to ruin the ending than Thomas did. Fortunatly I already read it."

I think it's safe to have spoilers in the comments section. Anyone who doesn't want to be spoiled shouldn't read the comment section of reviews of said issue. I encourage discussion, spoilery or non-, of the issues in these sections.

Spoil away, my spoiling spoilers!

--------------------------

MATT SAID: "I was a little tripped out by the whole time vortex thing. I wish there'd been a little more explanation (although perhaps I just need to re-read the issue again) considering that Illyria's time-altering powers have been gone since Time Bomb."

Don't feel bad. I had to read it twice too, and it was much better on the second read.

Illyria's time-slips were explained as soon as they happened. They were just the effect that Hell was having on her, just like the varying effects that Hell has on vampires and weres.

MATT SAID: "In all, I really enjoyed the issue, although I am a bit perplexed by Angel's new condition. Certainly he should have more trouble operating as a hero/champion/whatever given his circumstances, no? I mean, wasn't that the whole point of I Will Remember You, way back in Season 1? I can't imagine that Angel would even be able to walk after his tussle with Illyria, let alone carry an axe."

Refer to my answer to Thomas.

--Pat Shand

SillySully7 said...

I think Angel's "condition" is part of what Wolfram & Heart did. We've seen other vamps, so we know its just him. Perhaps Hamilton's blood cured him? No? I suppose we'll find out soon enough.

As stated before, Lynch didn't use the word human, he said not a vampire. So who knows?

Matt said...

Notice, however, that Lynch didn't specifically say he was human. I agree with you, and I also noticed that a human wouldn't have the strength to fight the demons Angel did in Issue #1, floor Spike with a punch, or throw a stake through a demon's eye. I'm thinking he still has supernatural powers, but I just can't tell to what *extent*. We'll find out soon.

Personally, I think if Angel's not a vampire, he should be human. It would confuse things too much, in my mind, if Angel is some sort of in-between.

Despite the improbability of his survival thus far, the concept of Angel being human now tickles me from a thematic standpoint. In Not Fade Away, we see Angel fully prepared to give up the thing he's spent years fighting for, just for a chance to break free; in After the Fall, we discover that he's finally achieved his longtime goal (becoming human), but at a time when his chosen city needs him to be a champion more than it ever has before. I definitely hope that's what Lynch and Whedon are going for here, as opposed to some kind of shoddy reason to end #3 on a cliffhanger.

-M

Padaxes said...

i can think of numerous reasons. it is possible that Angel Shanshued and became human but retained the power he had taken from Hamilton, which could possibly strengthen his bond to wolfram and hart.

another possibility is that we were mislead by the shanshu all along. it never said that the vampire with a soul was going to become human, it said he was going to live. He could be anything that is not necrotic, and the shanshu would still have happened.