So this is it. The end of the countdown. IDW's Angel has been such a great ride, and it's been awesome revisiting my favorite comic book of all time and picking out moments for this list. Truth of it is, there are far too many great scenes for a list like this to be even somewhat functional. Every writer and artist and editor brought something different to the table, making Angel a challenging, fun, tragic, and compelling read. I'll miss it more than I can possibly express in a blog entry, and it's been lovely writing about this comic on this site for years. I was happy to play a part in the experience for some of you, and I hope that my tale inAngel: Yearbook goes over as well as this site has. Seeing the comments pour in has been since I've announced that this site will close soon has been remarkable, and I'm humbled and grateful that folks seem to care... a lot.
So thank you.
Moment Number One
Angel: After the Fall #16
Going Back/The Happy End
Not only is this the strongest moment of the entire Angel run, it might also be the most controversial. I've seen some people--granted, I don't think these folks were fans of the run to begin with, but their loss right?--cite the end of #16 as a reason why nothing that happened inAfter the Fall matters. They're wrong. The "reboot" (though, it's not that, per se) has more of an impact on the characters and the larger Buffyverse than anything that happened while the characters were actually in Hell.
Short version: After Gunn killed Connor, Wesley and Angel come to the same conclusion at the same time. Wolfram & Hart need Angel for their prophecy, and they have already said that if anything happens to Angel that they can just pull a healthier him out of a different time. Upon hearing that, Angel bids Wesley farewell ("Thank you, rogue demon hunter") with a callback to when Wesley first joined his crew, and goes after Gunn. It initially reads as if Angel is simply trying to get revenge on Gunn for killing his son, but as they fight, Angel tells Gunn that it's his chance... Gunn's turn to rise up and become the hero that he's been trying and failing to be since he was turned into a vampire. Gunn swings his flaming sword and cuts Angel's head off. What follows is the most brilliant sequence of pages that I've ever read in a comic book.
Spike, overcome with raw emotion, rushes toward Angel's dead body, echoing what the reader is thinking: "What the hell is that? What the hell is that?" Wesley explains the situation to Spike and tells him to keep an eye on Illyria... and that he will too. And then, as the scene fades to white, Wolfram & Hart dials back to the last moment in reality that Angel was alive... the alley. We finally see the alley fight play out, but this time, our heroes remember everything. Illyria remembers the horror she inflicted and went through, and takes it out on the army. Angel, now a vampire again, now knowing that his son is out there alive somewhere, fights. Spike fights. The dragon, free from the bonds of Wolfram & Hart's control, makes short work of the evil army... leaving an opportunity from Angel to right the biggest wrong he'd committed: failing to save Gunn.
Angel quickly stakes the vampire who would sire Gunn and then bends down to his friend. Gunn is dying. He's lost an eye, he's beaten, and he remembers killing people for months in Hell. He remembers killing Angel... and he remembers killing Connor. He begs Angel to let him die, but when the vampire with a soul looks down on him, he says, "Sorry Charles. It's not that easy."
As Angel takes Gunn to the hospital, we see that Wolfram & Hart has closed up shop. They've left LA. Angel has won--for now.
When Angel arrives and the doctors take Gunn off of his hands, Connor comes. But... well, let's get to that in a moment. I kind of want to end on that note.
Thing about the dialback. It means that Gwen, the dragon, Groosalugg, Connor, Angel, and maaaany others aren't dead. It means that Gunn isn't a vampire. It means that whatever happened in Hell didn't really happen... but it also means that it did. Everyone experienced it. Everyone remembers it. Everyone who committed atrocities, everyone who lost someone, everyone who clung to each other and grew closer because of their hellish surroundings... their entire lives are changed. The public knows about monsters. The public knows about Angel and recognizes him as their hero.
And the dialback changed more than just the minds of the people involved. Wolfram & Hart's use of ancient magic brought back some of the old ways for a short while, such as limbs dusting and all that fun stuff, and it also opened a door for a certain baddie named James to step through... but that's later.
For now, the crew was left to deal with the psychological trauma. But Angel... well, he kind of had a bit of a silver lining. Connor walked up to him in the hospital and, upon seeing his son, Angel is overcome with emotion. As tears flow down his face, he hugs his son.
Connor says, "It's okay, Dad. It's okay. In fact, it's kind of a happy ending, isn't it?"
Angel replies, "I'm not sure. ...I've never had one before."
And that's all. That's all. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.
Angel: Yearbook comes out tomorrow. See you then.