Four days until the big goodbye to Angel from IDW Publishing. Get the tissues (and battle axe) ready!
Moment Number Eight
Spike Asylum #1
Spike Goes to Mosaic
There is definitely a Joss quote that says what I'd like to say about the opening scenes of Spike Asylum #1 (Brian Lynch and Franco Urru's first Buffyverse issue ever) way better than I'm about to, but I suck pretty hard at finding quotage. More than Buffy Season Eight, more than Fray, more than Angel: The Curse (though I enjoyed all of those beginnings), Asylum showed that a comic about a Buffyverse character could be as alive as a televised episode about a Buffyverse character. Spike's personality was big--he moved with violent grace, he jumped off of the page, and when you read his dialogue it was like James Marsters had recorded a voiceover of the damn thing. He does that, doesn't he? Dresden Files? Anyway, I know it's not so much a moment as a jump in quality, but it set the standard for not only IDW but every Buffyverse comic to come. And, I must say, the rest of the Angel run from Scott Tipton, Mariah Huehner, David Tischman, and Brian himself has done a great job of not dropping this incredibly slippery ball.
Honorable Mention: Lorne Exits Stage Right (Angel: Music of the Spheres). The passing of Andy Hallett hit the Buffyverse hard. He was a lovely and talented person, and IDW did the classy thing of retiring the character he played. Giving him a hero's exit, this John Byrne one-shot ended on a bittersweet yet heartwarming note. When Angel wonders aloud, "He's... one with the universe now. But I'd like to think he can still hear us. And that he knows how much he's missed," the reader can read Lorne's response: "Oh, I can hear you Angelcakes. And it's music to my ears." The book ends with a wonderful text tribute from Mark Lutz, who played Groosalugg and was a personal friend of Andy's.
Moment Number Seven
Angel: After the Fall #17 & Angel #44
It was impossible for me to split these two for a couple of reasons. One, they're both giving a new and somewhat definitive end to Angel as a series and two, the latter pays direct tribute to the former.
The first one has Angel, after visiting a comatose Gunn in the hospital and forgiving him (nicely echoing Angel's way less forgiving trip to visit Wesley in the hospital in Season Three--really shows how much Angel developed in After the Fall), walk down the streets of LA, this time toward the light. He reiterates his mission statement of redemption, acknowledges that he's done bad and is destined to do worse, but promises that--for now--he's here to help. Perfect closure.
And yet (thankfully) the series continued. Angel had more fights to fight, more demons to slay, and more friends to lose. It all came to a head in the final issue of IDW's on-going Angel title when he teamed up with his son to take down the villainous James (AKA Myr, whaddup). With the baddie scrunched, Angel walks into Wolfram & Hart, gives them the business, and then leaves, ready to go hang out with his son. He walks down the street, toward the light, in a direct reference to the final page of After the Fall. This time, however, as Angel walks, we see the faces of the people he's loved and lost looking at us, the readers. Wesley, Fred, Lorne, Cordelia, Doyle... a fitting, sad, happy, hopeful end.
Moment Number Six
Angel: After the Fall #4
Gunn Takes a Picture
This may not jump out as a big moment. It's quick, it's human, and a lot of other stuff was going on. However, this moment convinced me that Gunn was the best villain in the history of Angel because of how damn human he still was. In the final scenes of the fourth chapter of After the Fall, Gunn and his buddies infiltrate Wolfram & Hart in order to plant some explosive. Gunn also ransacks the place, saying that he's looking for supplies... but the only thing he takes is an old picture of him and his buddies. Angel, Fred, Wesley, baby Connor, Cordy, and Gunn... back when everything was happy and there was no betrayal and no Hell and no abandonment.
Oh, also, Gunn blows Wolfram & Hart to pieces right after that.
Honorable Mention: Eddie Hope makes an entrance (Angel #28). The first few issues of Willingham's run started the slow boil of what would become the James arc that would stretch through the end of the series. The first few issues were rather talky, which made Bill William's action packed back-ups starring the devil-on-a-mission Eddie Hope something fans looked forward to at the end of each book. The best Eddie Hope tale might be the first one; a simple assassination in a bar in which Eddie States his purpose... getting rid of those who committed atrocities in Hell. Simple, bad-ass, dark.
Thanks to Jay Valen Perez!