Timing: One month after Spike- After the Fall #2.
REVIEW: The issue starts with a wonderful fantasy sequence that Spike is trying to lose himself in, to distract him from the torture. Angel is in the dream, and he's working at the Buffyverse equivalent of Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Fred is there too, playing a very interesting role. The dialogue on this page is brilliant, and is probably my favorite scene of the series so far. "No, thank you, good sod" was hilarious.
This issue, more than the previous two, really strengthens the ties this book has to "Angel: After the Fall." Two characters from the series appear, the first being Gunn and the second being the major reveal on the last page, so I'll keep that hush hush. Gunn has a really cool scene with the big bad of this book, Non, and is classic badass vampire Gunn. I loved the dialogue between these two characters, and seeing the Big Bads of both "After the Fall" series interact was really a joy. Non can't really hope to be as interesting as Gunn, but she continues to shock with her snippy dialogue and her outrageous actions, even going as far as to disgust Gunn. Very interesting character.
The issue climaxes with our heroes, as they always do, take a stand. The big scene that everyone has been wondering about happens here... and that is the kiss. The cover with Spike and Illyria kissing came out months ago, and its been a mystery, because Spike promised Wesley that he didn't think of Illyria in that way in ANGEL #10, and also, who woulda thought? Well, this scene finally puts the kiss into context, but I'm not sure that the event has had any light shed on it. Perhaps it will be elaborated on in the next issue (the conclusion), but at this point, I don't get Illyria's reasoning. Her sentiment, I fully get, but if there isn't more to it, I'm not sure that it was really in-character for her to suddenly do that.
Other than that somewhat confusing moment, this issue is really solid. The end is great and really leaves me yearning for the next one. I hope we don't have to wait another month and a half before getting the conclusion, because I can't wait to see what happens in the prequel that is too good to be a prequel!
Art: Franco Urru does a wonderful job as usual. From character expressions, to emotional moments, to the panel-to-panel movement, to action, to heroic reveals, he is simply the best interior artist we've had on a Buffyverse project. After two comics of Art Lyon greying and browning up Franco's art, we've finally got a good colorist in the mix. Jason Jensen from the early ANGEL: After the Fall issues is back, and he does a completely wonderful job on colors, really adding new life to Franco's already awesome pencils.
Covers: The covers are the best we've gotten from each artist so far. The Sharp Bros give us their best Spike likeness here, and the placement of the shadow looming over him is really dynamic and well done. The crown jewel, however, is the cover with Spike and Illyria kissing. It's so intricate, and so well done, that is bursts with color, life, and volatile energy. This, I want a poster of.
Characters We Know: Spike, Fred, Angel (fantasy sequence), Illyria, Spider, Non, Jeremy, Gunn, (SPOILER:) Connor