Timing: Directly after Angel #26.
Warning: The bigger spoilers will be written in black text. Simply highlight to read. As this is a review, there will be some minor "spoilers" sprinkled throughout the text that don't warrant being hidden. If you have not read the issue and don't want to know anything about the plot, don't read this. Spoilers for previous issues will obviously not be hidden.
REVIEW: This was a bittersweet reading experience... kinda. It's hard to define, really. In a way, this is the last Angel story that Brian Lynch and Stephen Mooney are going to tell. And nope, I don't mean as a team. They're both spent a lot of time with Angel, and both of them have said that after this, they're moving on. So this is sort of an end. But they do have the Last Angel in Hell annual next month, which is kinda Angel, so that made this a bit less sad. Also, Brian is signing on as the writer for the Spike on-going next year, so again, less sad. It didn't have that "Is this really the end?" feeling that the final issue of After the Fall was laced with, but that might just be because it's a funny issue.
It continues the story from where the last installment left off. Everyone at the Sci-Fi Convention has become the characters that they were dressed as... and Spike was dressed as Angel. I was thrilled to see that Spike wasn't just behaving as his grandsire would... he was behaving as he thinks Angel would. Saying things and thinking things and doing things that he thinks Angel would. It gives a funny, critical, and at times sweet look at how Spike really thinks of Angel, which is something we rarely got on the show, as it's pretty hard to chip through Spike's sarcastic exterior. This issue has way more action than anything else, though, so it's not as if it's a full out character study. It's a glimpse into Spike's head, and as I mentioned in my review for #26, a really cool launching point for his solo series.
So, the action. There's a lot of it. It doesn't feel like too much, because the characters never really get lost in the action, but I do wish we had been able to spend a little more time with Spike, while he was (as he called himself) "Angel #1." Spike's emotional reaction to realizing that he wasn't Angel felt pretty quick, and though it was earned not only through this issue, but since the first time we saw how much Spike looked up to the guy (Buffy, Season Two), I do wish there was a bit more back-and-forth dialogue to play with there. And the thing is, there certainly could have been. There is an entire page where Angel essentially recaps what happened in the previous issue. But why? This is a direct follow-up of the issue, so we shouldn't really have to hear Angel talk about it in page space that could otherwise be used for more character development and action. In the grand scheme of things, it's just a page, but I do think it could have been better utilized.
There also aren't as many laugh-out-loud moments as the previous issue, but I don't fault that much. Most of this is battle dialogue and quick interactions between Spike/Groo and Angel/Jeremy (no, not in a shippery way, you slashers), so there isn't room for any full comedy scenes like the Last Angel in Hell bit and all the funny Groosalugg stuff from the previous issue. What we have here is still funny stuff, though; especially the scene where Spike as "Angel #1" and Groosalugg face off against a group of squishy-headed "aliens" that believe they're from the planet Skrum. One of the lines that I did lose it on was when an alien holds a laser to Groo's chest, saying "You! Carbon based, Fabio-esque lifeform! Take me to your leader!"
All in all, it's a fun comic with a little bit of character insight. It's not as much of a riot as the previous installment, but I don't feel like it's trying to be. It's nothing earth-shattering or shocking, but it is a highly enjoyable reading experience that, as with all Brian Lynch's writing, feels 100% like Angel. If this is indeed the last Angel comic that Brian Lynch ever writes (though, I have a dream that one day he'll come back, years later, when the series is past #100, to finish off the series with one last, epic, final arc), then it was a solid end to my favorite run of my favorite comic.
Art: Stephen Mooney's likenesses are stellar, as always. He's less fluid with the action in some parts than I would like, but the vast majority of the panels here are really good. I've written paragraphs and paragraphs about Mooney's art, and I feel like I've watched it grow so much. This is good stuff; not his best (his best certainly seems to be Last Angel in Hell, because from what I've seen damn), but still solid stuff. The panels are just super busy, what with all the fighting fans-turned-warriors in the background, so sometimes the details of a character's expression loses some of the time that could have been spent on it in a quieter panel. The story called for it though, so I'm certainly not faulting the art at all. It was definitely something different from Mooney, whose last two Angel projects were the epic and tragic After the Fall and Not Fade Away adaptation, so the jump to comedy here must have been tough... but it was well done. I wish the man would stay on Angel, because it's clear that the title is better for having him play a part in it, but if we can't have him now, all we can do is wish him luck in his next projects and cross our fingers that he'll want to play in Angel's world again someday.
Covers: Both of the covers are better than last time's, which were already fantastic. Mooney's Spike/Angel split might be his best likeness of both Spike and Angel ever, as well as his best use of shadows. The faces are just perfect, and wow I hope this cover is used for the Volume Six hardcover. It's simply a perfect piece of Angel art. Nick Runge's is also very cool, featuring Angel and Spike standing in front of a poster of Angel that Spike's face has been taped over. Similar idea to Mooney's, but completely different execution. And I dig both.
Characters We Know: Angel, Spike, Groosalugg, Jeremy.
Extras: In the back of the book, there is an interview between IDW Publishing and Angel himself (likely written by Bill Willingham) that talks a little bit about what to expect in Willingham's first arc, Immortality for Dummies, which kicks off with #28 (which has it's own title: The Crown Prince Syndrome). Angel's voice is funny, and slightly mocking, which is perfect for a piece like this. I love this kind of meta stuff, and it's just getting me more excited for this arc that I've been looking forward to since the announcement at Comic-Con. Also, we get a quick interview with Bill Williams, who is going to be writing four page back-up stories in each of Willingham's issues. Angel is going in a whole new direction, and I can't wait to see how the two Bills handle it!
Also, my Angel: After the Fall fan film came out today! Check it out and please leave feedback here or on the YouTube page! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtbCo61IIXs