Saturday, August 2, 2008

Angel: After the Fall Hardcover Volume One

WHAT IT IS: A hardcover that collects the first five issues of Angel: After the Fall.

THE STORY: “Not Fade Away,” the series finale of Angel, was the most brilliant episode of television I’ve ever seen. It was just a poignant, sad, and epic send-off to the characters I’d been following for so many years. It ended in the middle of a fight, and it didn’t really matter if Angel and his crew won that fight, because the point was that there would always be another fight and that Angel would always be the one fighting to make things right. So it was pretty much the perfect way to end the show.

So needless to say, I wanted more. I mean, it’s “Angel.”

So when it was announced that Joss Whedon was going to work with IDW Publishing to create the comic series that fans have been asking for since Angel went out in a blaze of glory, I was thrilled. When it was announced that the writer who would work with Whedon to plot the series was Brian Lynch, writer of SPIKE: ASYLUM, I was even more ecstatic, because “Asylum” was as good if not better than some of Joss’s comic work. If that hadn’t already sold me, then Franco Urru—artist behind ASYLUM—was assigned. Pretty much my favorite writer from IDW and my favorite artist from IDW had been handpicked by my favorite writer of all time (Whedon) to create a comic that continues my favorite show of all time. I’m surprised my heart and/or head didn’t bust all over my laptop.

When the day came that “Angel: After the Fall #1” was released, I held it in my hand for a second and realized that I would probably be disappointed. I’d amped myself up way too much. I hosted a countdown of Angel’s best moments on my site, leading up to the comic’s release date. I’d watched the last half of ANGEL: SEASON FIVE over again. I waited outside the door of my comic shop to make sure I’d be able to get all the covers. So how could this book live up to my expectations. So again, needless to say… it didn’t.

It exceeded them.

Brian understands the story and world of Angel in a way that only we passionate few—the fans—do. He writes each character as if he’s been inside their heads for years, because he’s had. Like us, he’s watched the show from a distance, and knows each character arc as well as the fans. Brian Lynch takes what was great about Season Five and continues it, starting us off with an Angel who is broken and half the man he was, but still—as always—trying to make things right. The environment is different, because LA has been sent to Hell. Angel’s situation is different, because… well, you’ll have to read that to find out, because it’s one of many revelations that will shock you with just how ballsy Joss and Brian are… because they take it to THAT level. Angel’s friends have all developed since we last saw them. Wesley was dead, Gunn was dying, Connor was running, Gwen was nowhere to be found, Spike was doing the lonely champion act, and Illyria was reeling from Wesley’s death… well, each of those characters are doing something majorly different now, which makes for some great reading.

Issues One, Two, and Five are literally the best three comics I’ve read. Joss’s work in Season Eight comes close at points (his recent work has been completely stellar), but these comics are just the best. The story is clear, so large scale, and really tugs hard at the heartstrings. And, note this, issues three and four aren’t bad at all. In fact, they’re great, solid 9/10s. It just shows how great this series is that issues as strong as those can be the weak points. The art is stylized but always beautiful. Franco is great with character moments and facial expressions, but his true appeal is in his action sequences, which bust with life. Some artists struggle at conveying movement, but even the scenes where characters are walking seem to flow with such real movement in Franco’s panels.

I’ve read these five issues about fifteen times each. So last night, when I sat down to read them in the hardcover collection format, I thought I’d just read the first issue and falls asleep. But I read the entire book in the one sitting, after already having read each issue so many times. And I was still utterly captivated. Such is the power of Joss Whedon, Brian Lynch, Franco Urru, and Angel.

THE PRESENTATION: We’ve got a new cover by Alex Garner, that feels glossy over some parts and smooth over others, which makes the image of Angel really jump out at you. The book itself is beautiful and has nice thick pages that will stand up to many readings. There is a nice design to the inside of this hardcover, which really shows that IDW put their all into this product. I’ve had complaints about IDW’s Angel TPBS in the past, because some of the books have very weak spines, but this is simply a very handsome book that really stands out on your shelf.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Oh there are a lot. The book starts with an introduction by Brian Lynch, which gives us background on how he fell in love with Angel’s story. Each issue starts with a nicely designed chapter page, leaving the covers to be collected in a comprehensive gallery in the back. We’ve also got the original series proposal by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch, which features awesome tidbits of info that didn’t make it to the overall series but are still interesting to know. As a bonus, the book also has the script to the first issue with commentary by Brian Lynch. There is even a cloth bookmark for you to mark your place.

RATING: 10/10 Classic.


tj said...

The cover and the script were both used for the Angel issue one "Directors Cut".

PatShand said...

Yes. Yes there were. Buuuut they're still considered extras.

TJ said...

Yes but you said new cover.

PatShand said...

Po tay toe.