Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The War Is Over

What Is It?: Angel: Blood & Trenches #4 (written and illustrated by John Byrne).

Timing: Read the series in order, obviously. But to say when it takes place is tricky. It tells what happened to Angel between #2 and #3, and then speeds up over what happened in #3, and concludes the story.

REVIEW: John Byrne's Blood & Trenches has been a very good read. It's unique, and its look and presentation works hand in hand with the story being told, which makes the reading experience all the better. Though the series has been fun throughout, the third issue took a slight step down in quality, but you'll be glad to know that Byrne bounces back for the final issue which really delivers a knock out punch.

The structure of the story works really well in this one. We get to see what happened to Angel while he was imprisoned by Kakistos, and though I was scratching my chin as to why this couldn't have been told linearly, the climax of the story when Angel figures out why Kakistos and his men were treating him like a human answered that question. The structure really works, putting all of the information we need in just the right place to give a proper build-up to Angel's realization. It's all really good stuff.

What I really liked about this issue was how Byrne handled the alliance between Angel and Colonel Geoffrey Wyndam-Pryce. It was never friendly, and they never really connected, but it was made the focus of the issue. All of the plot bits, even things as monumental as Lady Margaret's betrayal, fed into that unlikely partnership, serving to make these two men come together to face on Kakistos. And speaking of our cloven handed friend...

...there was obviously no way Kakistos could kick it, because we know he's alive in Sunnydale years later. Byrne handles his temporary defeat in a pretty cool manner, having Angel defeat him in a way that would a) make Angel believe he could have died and b) actually put Kakistos out of commission enough to ruin his place. It was really clever. The most clever moment, however, came at the end, when it is revealed that... well, I'm not gonna write it here. It's something you really should read. Angel and the Colonel unknowingly make a grave error, and thanks to good old dramatic irony, they will never know. And thank God for that, because we all know Angel already has enough to brood about.

In the end, very good issue with a great shock ending. This has definitely been the best non-After the Fall Angel comic that IDW has published (not including the SPIKE spin-offs).

Covers: The cover captures a moment from the book, where Kakistos and Angel fight on the wing of a plane. It's not the most detailed of all of Byrne's covers, but the action and violence is pretty catching. It's definitely appropriate for the issue.

Characters We Know: Angel, Kakistos, and (SPOILERS:) Hitler.

Rating: 8/10

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