What Is It?: Angel: Only Human #3 (written by Scott Lobdell; art by David Messina)
Timing: Directly after Angel: Only Human #2.
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 blocked.
REVIEW: I'm way less jazzed about Angel: Only Human after reading this issue. The first issues were solid 8/10s, and while the story is still continued effectively here, some of the dialogue is just sloppy. And an in continuity book set in the Buffyverse should have anything but bad dialogue. Lobdell didn't show an amazing skill for Whedonesque dialogue with the first two issues of the book, but at least both Gunn and Illyria seemed in character. If you can't amaze me with the dialogue, at least don't jarr me. A few turns of phrase here jarred me, especially in Illyria's narration. However, nothing came close to when Gunn, in reaction to seeing Illyria get engulfed in an explosion of flames, said, "Meep."
I... don't know. I can't hear J. August saying this. I can't picture Gunn ever saying this. I can't really even picture a grown man saying this at all. I don't know.
Moving on, the rest of the issue is fairly good. While it's definitely brought down a few notches due to some seemingly rushed writing and Gunn's odd utterance, there are some really cool bits here. We get some cool insight into Gunn and Illyria's past, Illyria through explicative flashback and Gunn through a plot device called "soulfire." But I don't mind plot devices, and it worked well. We got a pretty emotional look at Gunn as a child on two separate occasions: When he saw his first vampire and when his grandma died. The latter is a really emotional and effectively done scene, especially considering how it's cut up with bits of Illyria's flashback. Also, a great little touch was seeing Gunn walking with his sister at the hospital. The connection between Gunn's memory of his sister hasn't really been explored yet in his post-vampire life, but at least showing her is good attention to continuity.
The majority of the issue is flashback and action. The action is handled rather well, without too much narration, and the flashback is solid. While my review might seem negative, this is still a pretty decent book. Lobdell just needs a better sense of Gunn and Illyria as characters in order to understand how they would speak in a given situation (as in, never ever "Meep.") Also, the pacing in the issue was a bit wonky, especially how it ends on such an odd note. We've got an epic fight going on between Illyria and Baticus. So many great places to end. Then, Baticus, towering over Illyria, says "Why won't you fall, Illyria!? At long last... fall!" And Illyria replies with a simple "No."
It literally seems as if Lobdell was writing this, realized he was on page twenty-two, and said, "Eh, good enough."
Art: Messina's art is as amazing as always. He's gotten to the point, like Franco and Mooney, that there isn't much I can say about him that I haven't already been said. His art is beautiful, violent, vibrant, and graceful. I dig it.
Covers: Only one cover this time around, and it's the best so far. The green and pinks are amazing here, and Illyria's likeness is fantastic. Though, I have to say, maybe the whole "Illyria's true form looks like a vagina" could have been a taaaaad bit more subtle here. The watering lips (I feel like I'm writing a porn here... COME BACK NEXT WEEK FOR ILLYRIAPORN) are a bit too much.
Characters We Know: Illyria, Gunn.