Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Angel: After the Fall Cover Gallery Volume One

What Is It?: Angel- After the Fall: Cover Gallery, Volume One. Collects the covers to Angel: After the Fall 1-5 and the complete Spike: After the Fall cover collection

The Covers: Instead of tackling the book page by page, I'll write about each artist as they appear in the book, and what contributions they gave to this book.

Angel started with Ex Machina's (one of the best comics out, in my opinion) Tony Harris on cover duty. He did the first iconic cover, a red tinted Angel over what seems to be a sanscrit background. The next cover, even better than his first, a yellow tinted Spike surrounded by flames and hellish demons. He's one of the most celebrated artists in comics, and it was great to kick off the series and this collection with him on cover duties.

Then we get some greatness from series artist Franco Urru. His cover to Angel #1 is still my favorite ever, but he's made so many epic contributions to the series, and a lot of them show up in this volume. The cover to Brian Lynch's wedding gift version of #1 is collected here, along with Franco's covers to Angel #1-5 and Spike #1-4. Franco is one of those artists that never fail to amaze, but the special thing about his work is that you notice little details upon second and third viewings that make the covers even more special. The way his Angel #3 seems to be a moment frozen in time, complete with Angel's coat, Illyria's body, and the axe all in motion is just astonishing. His balance between the actor's likenesses and his distinctive style is never better than in his cover work.

David Messina also has two covers in here, both for #1. One was an exclusive online cover and the other was the one that kicked off the BCC: T&S: Slay Alive Angel Interaction competition. Messina has always been a great cover artist, but I'm loving his work on Smile Time so much now that his art, as a whole, I feel I can appreciate more. His cover to the competition was never my favorite, but even that manages to capture the iconic feel of Angel's "last stand" and the emotion all four of our heroes are feeling in that alley.

Then we've got Mr. Stephen Mooney, who would later take on interior duties for #12, 13, and 14, which contained some of the most climatic moments of the series. After seeing his cover work here, there is no question in my mind why Brian Lynch and Chris Ryall wanted to work with the dude. The detail in his Angel Interaction #2, for example, is mind-blowing. From the face and mouth of the dragon to the Hellish landscape of LA below, that cover is one action packed, iconic image. His covers to the Angel Interaction issues 2-5 are all collected here, and from the highly praised Western standoff between Angel and Illyria in #3, to the match-up of Illyria and Gwen in a clash of blue and red on #5, these constantly remind me how lucky we fans are to have talent like this working on the series. I mean, Mooney, Urru, Harris, Messina have already been featured, and that's just for the first five issues.

We've also got three covers from Andrew Robinson. I really like the Illyria cover he provided for #3, but his #4 and #5 proved to be a bit too stylized for me. However, who I fell in love with was Rebecca A. Wrigley, the Rouge Angel artist who provided an awesome image of my favorite pairing (Wesley and Illyria) for #5. The Sharp Bros, Joe and Rob, provide covers for each issue of Spike: After the Fall, giving a nice realistic look in contrast to Franco's more comicized images. There are also three photo variants, one two-page spread from the reprint of Angel #1 and two Spike incentive covers, one from Angel #2 and one from the Spike spin-off. If that wasn't enough, the black and white version of Franco Urru's #5 is also featured, along with the initial pencils that Tony Harris painted over for #2, which is an exclusive image to this book.

Altogether, thirty-one fantastic covers from the first five issues of the series.

The Presentation: IDW really gives Angel the royal treatment. I saw a few forum posters a bit let down that this wasn't being released as an actual book... but hell, from the way the thing is handled, I can't see how it could have been better. The cover is stiff, extra thick, and glossy. Even glossier than a TPB cover, which makes the image they used on the cover--Franco's #5 done up to look like a portrait--jump out even more. It's really, just like the first two hardcovers, a sight to behold. On the flipside of the cover, we see a sort of inverted version of the image on the cover, with the Franco art looking like the negative of a photo. Then, it goes right into the covers, which are given the full page treatment. On the back cover, we get some thumbnail versions of the inside covers, much like they'd have on a calendar. How they managed to charge the price of a regular comic for such an extravagant item is beyond me, but I couldn't be happier that the title is in such good hands. If they ever release more volumes, I do hope they make a hardcover collection of these, but the issue is beautiful enough to stand on its own.

Rating: 9/10

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