Timing: Directly after "After the Fall #4"
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: Wow... That was... That was... Wow. Yeah... "That was wow" pretty much covers it.
And since I didn't just have sex with Satsu, you can assume I'm talking about the fifth issue of "Angel: After the Fall," which just blew away expectations (along with the entire Wolfram and Hart building, mind). The story is fast-paced but well balanced, and the fights--oh there are fights--are action-packed, banter-heavy, and also "internal-dialogue" heavy. As far as the internal dialogue, Brian handles it much, much better in this issue than he did in #3. Every single character except Betta George on Franco's awesome cover (which I'll get into later) is featured in this issue and takes part in the overall awesome spread out over these twenty-two pages.
What makes this issue so awesome? I'll get into that. If you remember, I gave Issues #1 and #2 the "10/10 Classic" rating, which is pretty much the highest I'll give. But then, when #3 and #4 came out, I gave each of those one point lower than the first two issues of the series. They were still awesome and highly deserving of the damn-good 9/10 mark, but when you compared them to the way the series started, they were a bit lacking. #3 was mostly a fight and had way too much internal dialogue (especially in the time-slip scenes, which had PRESENT-Angel thinking, TIMESLIP-Angel thinking, and also Illyria talking) and #4 had some awkwardly written dialogue from Wesley and the Spike/Spider scene read strange the first time around. Everything else in both issues were great, but for an issue to score a 10/10, everything--especially the writing--has to be perfect. And, in short, #5 is a perfect comic.
The pacing is like that of an Angel episode. Quick cuts, all the important stuff happening off screen, all the non-important stuff happening off-screen. If you read Brian's blog, you can see how much thought he put into just that. He talks about how Spike was originally supposed to be wearing a white outfit (as shown on Andrew Robinson's retailer incentive cover), but it was cut for time. Great choice. This issue is packed as it is, and something extra like that would disrupt the balance. Also, Groosalug was originally intended to cut his hair so that people would mistake him for Angel (as shown on Urru's #5 cover), but that was also cut for time. Again, great choice. Really shows the intricacy of the writing process, and how many great ideas may pop up when you're writing something, but--in order to keep something tight--the writer has to only choose what makes sense for the story. I was thrilled to see that Brian had done just that, because I felt his Spike comic "Shadow Puppets #4" suffered from the fact that there were so many good ideas, but they were all there, so everything was kinda a huge onslaught of waytoomuch. But this, this epic story (Angel and co. vs. the champions of the Lords in Hell) is tightly written, the dialogue is fantastic (Gwen and Wesley are once again in character), and the plot developments look to be promising.
My only problem with the comic was that it ended. I wish I was still reading!
Art: Interiors are great. Franco pays much more attention to facial details than he had been doing of late, and his action panels continue to be the best in the biz. The likenesses have improved and he manages to make a panel burst with action without being cluttered. Knowing this is his last Angel issue makes me very, very sad. I've loved what I've seen of Nick Runge (his replacement, starting with #9), but I'm a bit weary. Runge's interior work on Angel #7 (the Wesley panels we've seen) are great, but his cover to #9 is just a reproduction of a picture of David Boreanaz standing in front of the Hell-A landscape. I hope--and trust--that the interiors won't be traced from promotion images. But back to this issue. Franco's interiors are great, though I think the problem with the cover should have been fixed. Andrew Robinson's cover is only a retailer incentive, so it doesn't really matter that Spike is wearing white on it. Plus, it could be taken to the symbolic place easily (and Robinson's cover reflects NOTHING in the issue, so if anything about it would be changed, it wouldn't be Spike's clothing; it would be everything else... I mean, it has absolutely nothing to do with the issue). However, Franco's cover, while it is great, poster/desktop worthy, and all that... should have been edited to reflect Groo's actual appearance. But speaking of covers... I was so glad that Brian didn't reveal that actual B Cover to us. Wrigley's Illyria/Wesley cover is beautiful, and perfectly captures everything I love about Wesley/Illyria, Wesley/Fred. My favorite cover by far and away.
Characters We Know: Wesley, Lorne, Angel, Illyria, Spike, Connor, Gwen, Nina, Gunn, Dragon, Groosalug, and (HUGE, HUGE SPOILER:) Fred
Lynchverse Characters We Know: Lorne's Messengers, Spider, DemonJay & DemonSilent Bob, Timothy, Burge, Loan Shark, all the other LA Lords,
Speculation: Will post in a separate entry
Rating: 10/10 Classic