Timing: First third of the Angel: Season Five episode, "Not Fade Away."
Note: Adaptations are now ranked on this scale: EPIC FAIL, FAIL, BAD, OKAY, GOOD, VERY GOOD, GREAT, OUTSTANDING.
REVIEW: No, the title has nothing to do with the review.
So this is a pretty ballsy move. Longtime ANGEL writer Scott Tipton and fan-favorite artist Stephen Mooney took it upon themselves to adapt the finale of ANGEL which is, in my sometimes humble opinion... the best episode of television history. I was instantly excited when this was announced, because even if this failed, it could never take away from the awesomeness of the episode. Tipton announced early on that, unlike his adaptation of Smile Time, there would be no additional scenes added. I was torn on this, because on the one hand, if you're not going to add anything, why make an adaptation in the first place? On the other hand, how could anything be added? Not Fade Away is a perfectly told story, and adding anything would be pointless. On the original hand, who doesn't love a little pointless fun? Either way, I enjoyed the issue. More for the art than the way the story was told, because you really can't beat the way the actors performed. I know the episode by heart, all the way to the way the actors say the lines, so again unlike the Smile Time adaptation, the issue didn't make me reflect on the episode and appreciate it more. Instead, I took it as a homage to the episode. And it works for me.
The opening scene swiftly sums up what led up to this episode with a Previously On. Everything flows very smoothly from the beginning to the end. Nothing is added, and nothing is noticeably taken away. The only comment I have about the text is this: I wish some bolded text would be inserted to make up for the lack of hearing the actors' voices. We all know how it sounds, and I think the script for this comic sort of takes that for granted. The non-adaptation issues use that kind of text to spice up the dialogue, and the lack of it here makes emotional scenes like Angel's conversation with Harmony seem slightly flat. It's very aesthetic, yes, but I noticed it.
The pacing and layout of each page, and the entire issue, is way better than that of Smile Time, which got a bit haphazard in the second issue. I wish there were more I could say about the content of the actual issue, but... I just liked it. It was a nice reminder about how great the episode is.
Art: We need Stephen Mooney back on the main Angel title, ASAP. Thankfully, that need is being fulfilled as of #26, which is a collaboration between him and your and my favorite ANGEL writer, Mr. Brian Lynch. Seeing Mooney's art in this issue is like coming home. He's relying less and less on promotional images as he becomes more comfortable with the characters, and it really shows. The wider shots need a bit of honing in the details, definitely, but check out his work on the closer, emotional pages like Spike's poetry reading. If that isn't a perfect page, I don't know what is. Mooney is best at Wesley, Angel, and Spike, and though he isn't the best at new characters like Hamilton and Anne, the overall look he gives the book is wonderful. I'm neither here nor there about the coloring, though; the colors don't really blend with the art as well as they should, but they don't jump out as bad either. Overall, the art is why I came, and it didn't disappoint.
Covers: Out of Mooney's three covers for this series, this is my least favorite. The next two are among my favorite pieces of ANGEL art, but there is something a bit off about this one. Wesley looks very angular, and the perspective is kind of wonky. It's certainly a hard image to capture, what with the "camera angle," and it does work for the most part. As a panel, it would be great, but covers should have a bit more detail and precision. Wait until next time, and you'll be blown away by the Wesley/Illyria cover.
Characters We Know: Angel, Gunn, Lorne, Wesley, Spike, Drogyn, Marcus Hamilton, Illyria, Arch Duke Sebassis and the Circle of the Black Thorn, Harmony, Lindsey, Anne, Eve, Connor. Wow what a cast. This must have been a fun one for Mr. Mooney.
Rating as an adaptation: GREAT.