Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Keeps Gettin' Better

What Is It?: Angel- After the Fall: Issue #13 (written by Brian Lynch, plotted by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch.)

Timing: Directly follows Angel: After the Fall #12.

REVIEW: Wow. It's been a hard month for Buffyverse fans, what with the delay of Buffy #19 and the latness of this issue... but as one Frank Barone would say, "Holy crap." The wait was worth it three times over. The writing in this issue is the best it's been, no contest. Subtle and outright references to the past, huge character moments, bad-ass fights, heroism, and ultimate heartbreak pours out of this issue, capturing the tone of the show better than any issue before.

It's a bit hard to talk specifics without spoilering, but here's what you can expect. At least two somewhat major characters die, probably for keeps. We get confirmation of the no-one-dies clause that keeps bringing the slayers back at Gunn's place. We get a fight between Connor and Gunn, as well as Angel's final decision on whether to live or die. Gunn takes his plan to the next, bloody level. Great Spike lines, and some really, really tragic scenes.

It's everything I expected from what looks to be the first act of the climax of Angel: After the Fall. Things are heating up in hell and we've got four issues left. November can't come soon enough.

Art: Mooney, again, did good here. If I had to compare his work here to what he gave us in #12, I'd say that his pencils here are a bit better than last time. He really captures Cordy nicely, as well as Angel, Gunn, and Gwen. His Illyria is also well done. His Spike and Connor are very hit and miss, though he did nail each character in their most important panels (both during the Angel "voice over" section). I'm still not thrilled about his shading technique, but it's his style, and the majority of his art is consistently good enough for me to ignore what I don't like and concentrate on what I do. He had a lot of major, major scenes to execute here, and he did a nice job. Now onto the coloring. Art Lyon, whose brown work has been my biggest complaint about After the Fall, actually does a good job here. I noticed his effort to make things more lively and colorful, and I definitely appreciate him bringing his work to the next level for this book. I'm very much looking forward to Fabio Mantovani (who colored the Gunn story from #8 and did art and colors on the Gwen story from that same issue) to take over coloring duties in #15, but I'm also really happy that Art Lyon brought a better product to the table in this issue.

Covers: The A cover is by the man who is to Angel as Jo Chen is to Buffy. Yup, that's right. The only and only Alex Garner. His cover is a puzzle of Illyria/Fred, with some pieces depicting Illyria and others depicting Fred. It's wonderfully done and a perfect likeness of both characters. The B cover is by Nick Runge, whose work this time around seems to be every bit as good as Garner's. His cover art is fantastic, this time featuring Connor holding a bloodied Angel in a rainy alley. Both of these covers are some of the best of the series.

Characters We Know: Spike, Dragon, Douche Lackey, the Slayers, Cordelia, Angel, Gunn, Wesley, Connor, Gwen, Illyria, Fred.

Rating: 10/10 Classic.


Mikey said...

While I agree this is one of the most monumental issues so far, the art is really killing it for me. I didn't think I could dislike anyone else on this more than Runge, but then Mooney had to go and top him.

I've always been a fervent Urru supporter, and I'm counting the days until he returns.

PatShand said...

Hey Mikey,

Thanks for the comment. While, needless to say, I disagree about the art, I do think Urru was by far the best. That being said though, I think Stephen is doing a good job. Stellar? Nah, but still truly good. His Cordelia, Angel, and Gunn are fantastic. The panel to panel consistency is staggeringly higher than Runge's. While Runge ranged from great (Wesley story) to horrible (#9), Mooney--I think, anyway--is consistently good. What didn't you like about his art?

Tom Davies said...

Everyone seems to think the Alex Garner cover on this one is great, but I just don't see it. Fred/Illyria looks like Jessica Alba here, not Amy Acker.

hawkedup said...

Great stuff. Great issue.

CowboyCliche said...

The splash of the dragon attack was completely "meh" for me. I kept thinking about how much prettier it would have been done by Urru. Hell, look at last issue and see how amazing Runge can be given the time.

Mooney's faces are oddly shadowed, and his Cordelia, while somewhat spot-on, often looks creepy and overly smiley. His inks are oddly too thick or thin, which I think is what kills the faces for me.

Loki said...

Best that's been of the entire series since the first one. Excellent story-points, no gratitous reappearances by unnecessary characters that have no actual function in the plot, the artwork was for once prett flawless (I don't need it to be superb, I just need it not to have obvious huge big flaws that ruin the reading - this is consistantly good, as pat says, and that's what I need), and there were several bits of both fun and deep emotion. If they'd all been like this, this series would've been as good as or better than the Buffy-series.

Two things I didn't understand properly that maybe some of you can clear up - there's a spell that keeps anyone from dying for good in Gunn's building? And what was it Gunn was accusing Illyria (or Fred?) of in the conversation in the end?