What Is It?: Angel- After the Fall: Issue #4 (written by Brian Lynch, plotted by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch).
Timing: Directly follows "After the Fall #3"
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. Spoilers for previous issues will obviously not be covered.
REVIEW: With the way the third issue ended, the month we had to wait until this was released was torture. As soon as you crack open the first page of this comic, you'll get two things you've been waiting for. We get a glimpse at the actual alley fight, see what happened to Angel the moment he was sent to hell, the moment he discovered that he was human, and directly after that, we get an explanation as to why Angel is what he is and who made him that way. Helluva lotta answers for the first few pages, right?
Something I noticed about the second scene of the book (another Wesley/Angel healing scene) was that there was almost a bit too much comedy. There is a scene where some mystical women (the angel-like creatures from Robinson's #4 cover) appear to Angel and Wesley, and Wesley assumes that they are there to take him to the afterlife. His voice is quite surprisingly out of character at the moment--not because Wes can't be funny, because he can ("TV priviledges") but simply because the voice is off. It's the first moment in the entire series that I've noticed a voice other than Gwen's being out-of-character, so it's really just a minor quibble, but it was enough to notice.
The story is progressingly nicely as Lynch both adds new elements and continues on the plot established in #3 when Angel issued a challenge to the lords. Now, as all of you have seen the cover to Issue #5, it's not a surprise that Lorne was re-introduced in this issue. While I'm not keen on his wardrobe, his voice couldn't have been more perfect if Andy Hallet was next to me, reciting the lines in my ear in full Lorne make-up. The issue, up until that point, had a strong start (the alley scene), a mediocre middle (the Wes/Angel scene, and then the Spike/Spider scene), but a strong, strong middle-end. The Lorne pages were a joy to read. There was a lot of insight into the character and where his head is at in this post-NFA world, and I also "laughed out loud" quite a few times. Towards the end of the Lorne scene, the Mystery Man from Urru's #5 cover is revealed to be (SPOILER:) Groosalug. Don't say I didn't tell you. Groo's dialogue is also perfect, especially with his opening lines, "I assure you, my glimmering hope is so large, it eclipses the sun and the moon! Angel! Wesley! Oh, this is the day of days!"
Another thing I was estatic to see was more Gunn. Our new favorite soulless vampire was absent from Issue #3, which was a bit of a downer since his scenes from #2 were so damn intriguing. But yeah, he's back in an explosive way this issue, as you might have noticed from him, you know, being on the cover and all. We're getting great villain!Gunn stuff, but there's also glimmers of the old Gunn in there, quite similar--but even more tragic--than what we saw in Issue #2. There should have been a little tissue insert on one of the pages, because woah. Sad factor is HIGH there.
Good end. I can't see why it was advertised as having a bigger, more shocking ending than #3, because... no. It was big and shocking, but it wasn't "We've known Angel as an ensouled vamp for ten years, but now he's a human." But it's big. And it's cliff-hangery. And it isn't completely 'verse altering, which is good. It was very appropriate for the story.
Art: Inside stuff is good. I feel like Franco isn't detailing the panels as much as he used to, and the "wide-shots" are still a rather large problem. There's some really, really good stuff, but some not-so-good too. So for Franco, overall I'd say good but not perfect. His cover, however, couldn't have been better. Great stuff. I want that Gunn image as a friggin' over-sized poster. But, on the other hand, we've got Andrew Robinson's cover. I don't know if he MEANT to show us Ricky Martin with size 46 shoes being taken away by blue female gargoyles, but that's really, really how it came out. I can't see how this cover is at all passable. While I can't say I was estatic for his #3 cover, it is a masterpiece compared to this cover. I DO like the way the colors look, with the deep blues, light blues, and golden bottom, but the actual characters? Come on, Robinson. Or rather, come on somebody else. Please. Please bring on a different cover artist. When you compare Franco's stunning Gunn image to this Robinson piece... Scratch that, you don't compare. You just glance and are automatically won over by Franco's.
Characters We Know: Angel, Wesley, Gunn, Lorne, Spike, Groosalug, Loan Shark, Dragon
Lynchverse Characters We Know: Spider
Speculation: Eeek! Gotta go to work. I'll make a separate entry for this. Try to ignore my spelling, as I have no time to check it! Away! Fly, you fools!