Wednesday, May 25, 2011


That is all.

More thoughts on that and my incredible happiness later on.

Please tell me what you think of the book. It's quite honestly a dream come true for me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Moment #1: Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt

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.

Monday, May 23, 2011

...5, 4, 3, 2...

Moment Number Five
Angel: After the Fall #12
Shanshu is Not So Much with the Yay

In a devastating turn of events (I mean, when you're stuck in a Hell dimension most turns of events are devastating, granted), it is revealed that the Shanshu Prophecy--the light at the end of the tunnel for Angel, the promise that, after playing a pivotal role in the apocalypse, he would be granted humanity for his rewards--isn't as good as it sounds on paper. Wolfram & Hart wants Angel to know that the only reason they've been keeping him alive is because he eventually will Shanshu... but the role he'll play in the apocalypse is for the side of evil.

Oh, and Wesley is the one who is made to deliver the bad news to Angel. Talk about twisting the dagger. In a move almost as daring as making Angel human, Brian Lynch and Joss Whedon flipped the entirety of Angel's arc from the end of Season One until now on its head, giving Angel new reason to say "Screw destiny" and fight for himself.

Honorable Mention: Illyria Crosses Over (Fallen Angel: Rebirth #1).

Moment Number Four
Angel: After the Fall #15
Connor's Dead

Not much to say about this one. It's the most devastating death in all of the comics. It showed Angel at the end of his fight, Angel with nothing left, Angel after the worst has come true. Gunn killed Connor. When I read the issue, I instantly thought of the moment in Not Fade Away when Connor tells Angel that Wolfram & Hart is going to destroy him. Angel replied, "As long as you're okay, they can't." This moment took the series in a direction of true tragedy, which made the eventual eucatastrophe of an ending all the more happy.

This is what I wrote when the issue first came out: "His son, Connor, dies in his arms. After being stabbed by Gunn with the very flaming sword Angel fought with in the battle with the LA Lords. I wouldn't even mention this in the review, but the simple fact is that the death and the way it's handled is one of the reasons why the issue is so good. It's insanely risky, but the pay off is enormous. Because when Connor is stabbed, it feels like everything goes quiet. As Angel says, the "World has just ended." Seeing Angel holding a dying Connor is one of the saddest things I've ever seen, and the final, hopeful words that Connor gives his father will leave Angel with the will he needs to fight. And to win. Major kudos to Brian Lynch, Chris Ryall, Joss Whedon, and the entire IDW team for going there. You made me cry like a little baby, and I'm grateful."

Honorable Mention: Everybody Dies (Angel: After the Fall). I mean, c'mon. Gwen, the Dragon, Groosalugg, Connor, debatably Illyria, Wesley (again), Spike (briefly), Gunn (vamped, but still). It was a death fest. Luckily for the on-going series, a lot of these folks were saved from death, but the repercussions still affect the Buffyverse to this day.

Moment Number Three
Angel #33
James is a Baddie

James was a hard character to like. Thanks to him, we saw a very out-of-character Cordelia in Aftermath, the problematic introduction of angels into the Buffyverse, and a whole lot of mythology that didn't really vibe with the established universe that these characters live in. Say what you will about Willingham's run, but revealing James as a villain completely wiped that slate clean. Nothing he'd done in Aftermath counted for anything. He's a friggin' god being kinda... thing... Well, he's damn powerful, and it's been established now that he had lied to Angel the entire time. He wasn't an angel. Everything he'd done and said was a ruse. He turned from a strangely stuffy, humorless, angelic version of Groosalugg into the creepiest villain in all of Angel. Harvesting demons? Incest? Getting Anne pregnant with his weirdo spawn? Put nothing past this guy.

Also, he ripped Angel's hands and feet off just a few moments after his true intentions were revealed. Gotta love a guy who's quick to act.

Honorable Mention: Dedication to Wes and Fred (Angel: After the Fall #17).

Moment Number Two
Illyria: Haunted #2
Spike and Illyria's Conversation

This moment from Scott Tipton and Mariah Huehner's ILLYRIA series makes it here for a few reasons. One, it's the closest the comic has come to feeling like the show--it hits the voices, the tone, and everything else right on the head. After the Fall was up there in quality, for sure, but the story was so epic that it felt more like Angel the Movie. This feels like the show. I was waiting for the credits to start when I heard these character speaking--and yes, not read, heard. This conversation is full of pay off, character development, pathos... everything you'd want from these characters after they'd gone through so much together. Spike talks about his sacrifice for Buffy, which is something fans had been wait for since Angel hit the funny books, and Illyria talks about a tragically beautifully dream she'd been having about Fred and Wesley. It was moving, smart, funny in parts, and everything an Angel comic should be.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

...8, 7, 6...

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
The End(s)
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!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Beginning of the End

Alright, we're in the home stretch. IDW's ANGEL is winding down and so is this site. Over the next week, I'm going to sort of honor both of these long-running series and countdown to the finale--ANGEL: YEARBOOK--the same way I counted down to the first issue of After the Fall... with a countdown.


Angel: After the Fall #3
Angel's a Human

This was the moment in After the Fall when Brian Lynch knocked everything off the table and showed that he was playing a whole new game. It was risky, it was scary, and it was the biggest damn reveal in a Buffyverse story--ever.

Yeah, bigger than that one.

In fact, I remember writing this: "The issue ends with what is pretty much the biggest revelation/cliffhanger/thing in the history of not only Angel, but the entire Buffyverse. Holy crap."

The moment informed everything that happened in the following fourteen issues and made the timeshift back to non-Hell in #16 a real loss for Angel. Angel truly had what he'd always wanted, but it was the worst time for it--his dream come true was being used as a punishment against him, a means to stop him from helping his friends and his city. Gotta love when Angel gets poetic.

Honorable Mention: Gunn and Illyria Hit the Road (Angel #23- Become What You Are). Both of these characters did pretty terrible things in After the Fall, so it was amazing to catch up with them in this issue to see where their heads were. Brian Lynch handled the delicate situation in a sad, epic, funny, and hopeful way.

Angel #38- Cat's In the Cradle

What are you talking about, this moment didn't make me teary. You're a liar and a bully and FINE you're right.

In a moment that echoes another one of my favorite IDW scenes, Angel and Connor share a quiet moment and a hug on the roof of the Hyperion. Angel knows that he has to leave in order for Connor to grow, and Connor recognizes this too. It's the most open moment of affection we've ever seen between the two and, after all the horror they've suffered... it's very, very earned.

Honorable Mention: The Feeling After Reading After the Fall #1. Now, this isn't really a moment... it's a whole issue worth of moments--no, more than that, it's what I felt after reading the thing. It's hard to explain, but I knew that we were at the start of something special. I had no idea that Angel would eventually be on-going, no idea that Brian would tell the first story as well as he did, and no idea how important this book would become for me. But I felt something. This is how I tried to describe it. Can't believe that years have passed so quickly.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Brian Lynch's Spike

Brian Lynch's Spike - A Retrospect on the Series that Made Me Love Comics

by Patrick Shand

Listen up, boys and girls. Time for quick math lesson.

Five issue mini. Plus this Brian guy. Plus a vampire with a soul… no, not that one—

Equals this:

I guess it all started with SPIKE: ASYLUM.

When it was announced that Joss Whedon was going to continue Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a comic, I wanted to bone up on my funny books before the first issue hit the stands. I’d read some comics as a kid (I remember digging this oversized Stephen King Creepshow book), but it had been years since I’d picked one up. I took a trip down to the comic shop, picked up some of the very early IDW Angel books, and enjoyed them. It was until a few weeks later when I returned, wanting more of IDW’s Angel, that I saw they had a spin-off. Spike. I picked up Asylum #1 and everything changed.

I’d later discover Scott Tipton’s Angel: Auld Lang Syne and the three Spike one-shots (one by Peter David and two by Tipton) were up there with Brian’s work in quality and feels-like-the-showness, but Brian’s work on Asylum #1 was the first comic book that showed me what the medium can do when a phenomenal writer and a brilliant artist join forces on a story that they’re both dying to tell. And I guess that’s really saying a lot, because writing comic books is kind of what I want to do with my life.

Brian followed Spike: Asylum with Spike: Shadow Puppets (a sequel of sorts to Smile Time) and a prequel to his and Joss Whedon’s Angel: After the Fall called… well, Spike: After the Fall, that shows what Spike and Illyria did in Hell while Angel was healing from his unfortunate every-bone-in-his-body-breakage. Each of these Spike minis went above and beyond; not only did they feel authentic in both dialogue and characterization, they introduced new characters that readers actually cared about, developed both these newbies and the already existing characters so that they would be changed after the book, and centered around themes. Actual English major approved themes. Not “death is a theme” or “betrayal is the theme.” Single words aren’t themes; they’re motifs, and that will always bug the shit out of me. But Asylum, Shadow Puppets, and Spike: After the Fall had solid themes; statements about these characters, and he let those statements function as the backbone of his series without beating us over the head with a message.

Brian and Franco Urru (who is essentially the comic book version of Fonzie; that man is so suave) did great work on the Spike trilogy and Angel: After the Fall, so you can imagine my excitement when it was announced that they’d be doing an on-going Spike series together. I was at NYCC at the IDW Panel when it was revealed and Brian said he’d keep writing it until they made him stop. After the panel, I talked with Brian about some of the possible plots (we’ll cover that in an upcoming interview) and man did it all sound good.

But then, time passed. Other stuff came up, things were delayed, and then… it was announced that Dark Horse would be taking the Angel license from IDW. At first, it wasn’t clear if Brian would be able to continue Spike with IDW, because there were some quotes taken out of context that said Spike would remain on-going… but, as it unfortunately turned out, the Spike title would pass to Dark Horse as well.

So it goes.

It was at the next NYCC, a year and a half later, that I finally got my hands on Spike #1. It was everything that I wanted it to be; funny, epic, beautiful, smart, and (like all of Brian’s Spike stories) balls out insane. The issue sees Spike team up with Beck and Betta George to go to Las Vegas to stop whatever bad is brewing there; and that bad happens to be Wolfram & Hart. Erm, and a giant monster made up of Elvis impersonators.

The Spike on-going that became an eight issue Spike miniseries was about Spike leading a group of friends. In Buffy, Spike was fine at leading a group of lackies… because he didn’t give a shit if they lived or died. Then, he operated alone. Then, when he fell in love with Buffy and got a soul, he fought Buffy’s side with the Scooby Gang. Then he fought on Angel’s side. During After the Fall, he was the leader of a group of warriors, but he didn’t lead; he withdrew from the fight and set up a sanctuary, electing to protect his “flock” rather than lead them into battle. So Spike treads new ground, setting up our bleach-blond hero as leading a group of people that he cares about for the first time. He has to calculate decisions, he has to make tough calls, and he has to deal with everything Angel and Buffy have been dealing with for years. Spike grows, as he grew in all of Brian’s stories.

Spike is also about a serial killer named John who believes Spike has his soul. It’s about Drusilla, and how the (as Kr’ph so uneloquently put it) “hell moment” made her sane. It’s about how Spike gave her her sould back and unknowingly broke that sanity. It’s about hard choices. It’s about realizing when it’s time to walk away for your friends for their own safety. It also functions as a bit of narrative bridge to Season Eight, as the last issue has the infamous bug ship land in the middle of Las Vegas.

For me, Spike does a bunch of things. I could see the story growing as I read more than any story I’d read before. Like the eponymous character, Spike as a series was trying to find its footing. By issue #5, when Stephen Mooney took over as artist and Willow Rosenberg guest starred, Spike and Brian were knocking it out of the park. After that, every issue was better than the last until the epic conclusion.

For me, Spike makes certain hard-to-swallow elements of Season Eight a bit easier to take.

For me, Spike isn’t just a “this is how Spike gets the bug ship” story, which—and I don’t know why—was the reason why some people bought the series. For me, Spike was an ending. It ends with Spike leaving Beck and Jeremy and Betta George behind, because he realizes what being a leader means… and he doesn’t want the people he loves to deal with the fallout. He says, “No one is in control of anything. Innocents become dangerous. Heroes can turn on a dime. Sometimes, evil can do an about-face and want to help. People come into your life. People leave. Everything’s changing. Everything’s always changing. Bottom line, the only thing any one of us is in charge of… is ourselves.”

And so, Spike leaves on the bug ship in pursuit of the Senior Partners of Wolfram & Hart. Spike leaves Beck, Jeremy, George, Drusilla, Biv, Marv, Anna, and the rest of the Mosaic staff. He leaves IDW and he leaves us.

Spike was only on-going for eight issues. But Brian wrote three Spike minis before this that all seem integral to the narrative and character development of Spike and his stellar supporting cast… so, I guess, in a way, Spike sort of was this sprawling, on-going tale of a vampire with a soul trying to find his place in the world. Since Brian wrote twenty-one issues of Spike as a whole—and that’s not counting his twenty-two issues of Angel, his Last Angel in Hell special, and his upcoming short story in Yearbook—I can say that this was a good run. A beautiful, weird, hilarious, and goddamn I’m so sad it’s over run.

I wish Brian got to write the series how he intended it. I wish it didn’t have to get rushed due to some license crap. I wish Brian could write Spike forever, because no one gets Blondie Bear like that man. I wish a whole bunch of stuff, but you know what? This is what’s really special about Brian Lynch’s SPIKE series. Even all those wishes won’t come true, Brian managed to deliver a fantastic story… and that’s what I’ll remember when I think about, re-read, and talk about SPIKE for years to come.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Angel - The Main Title

Angel – The Main Title: A Retrospect on IDW’s Vampire with a Soul

by Patrick Shand

It’s no secret that this site has been more of an IDW’s Angel site than anything else. I’ve be accused of being biased, and here’s the thing—I guess I am. I’m biased because on November 21st 2007 I fell in love. That’s the day that the first issue of Angel: After the Fall, the series that would eventually becoming known as the Angel on-going (or, as folks on the message boards call it, the main title), hit shelves. Brian Lynch’s tale of a vampire with a soul turned human, a city sent to hell, and a group of people learning what being champions means was so true to the TV series that I couldn’t help but obsess about the series. That book is essentially the reason that I’ve stuck with this blog as long as I have. Reading Brian’s seventeen issue arc planted the seed that would grow into a full blown love of comic books. But that’s just me. What Brian (and many other writers) have done with this series is larger than just me. So here’s my attempt at looking back.

After the Fall was an epic in its own right, but it also set the stage for things to come in what would become the on-going Angel series. Gunn was in a bad state (both physically and mentally), Illyria was trying and failing to find herself, Spike was dealing with leadership issues, Connor was growing comfortable with his new role as a champion, and Angel… well, Angel was working hard at getting back to doing what he did best—fighting the good fight. The first arc in the new post-After the Fall world, novelist Kelley Armstrong took Angel in a radically different direction. With Illyria, Spike, and Gunn off trying to work their issues out, Angel spent the arc assembling a new team in a new location. The new cast consisted of Angel (kinda the obvious one), Connor, Gwen, Kate (who had about the quickest and strangest return of all time), a werejaguar named Dez, and an angel named James. The arc wasn’t very well received, but it did serve in setting up what would be a major arc in the later issues.

And like a true prodigal son, Brian Lynch returned. I remember sitting at the New York Comic-Con panel when it was announced that Brian would be coming back for a few issues on Angel AND writing an on-going Spike miniseries. It was pretty damn awesome, and he definitely delivered. His first issue back on the series centered on Gunn and Illyria—the two characters most damaged by the events of After the Fall—and bashed them together so they could work their intense issues out. The issue showed a return to both the quality and tone of AtF, as did the subsequent issues. Brian Lynch teamed up with Juliet Landau to pen a Drusilla two-parter (set during the events of AtF) that set up some stuff that would pay off later down the road in the Spike on-going. But all good things have to end, and Brian’s run on the main title ended with a two-parter that took Angel and Spike to Comic-Con with a story that was a brilliant callback to the “Halloween” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And then, Willingham. The superstar writer of the multiple Eisner Award winning Fables took over Angel for what was supposed to be the long-run; Bill Williams wrote back-up issues starring newcomer Eddie Hope for the entirety of Willingham's run. While it took Willingham a while to get some of the voices down, the plot was clearly going somewhere epic. The fallout of Wolfram & Hart sending LA to hell was starting to show, some demon ladies dedicated themselves to Connor for mysterious reasons, Spike had a bit of a soul issue, and the “angel” James was revealed to be a demon God who was planning on using Earth as his own personal demon farm. Willingham’s sights were set on the long-term plot, and things were coming to a nice boil when writers Mariah Huehner (also the editor) and David Tischman came in to pen a touching end to the arc Willingham had set up. Angel, realizing that Connor was becoming a champion in his own right, decided to leave his son to run Angel Investigations. It was an end of sorts, with Illyria spinning off into her own miniseries and Spike leaving to head his own title. This left the main series to focus on the elephants in the room: things were rough between Connor and Gunn, James was still a giant threat, and Angel was in major need of some more screen time in his own title.

Mariah and David stuck around to finish off the on-going series. I did an interview with them at NYCC 2010 right before their The Wolf, the Ram, and the Heart arc kicked off, and man were they pumped. They were telling an story that, to me, sounded as epic in scope as After the Fall was, and they only had six issues to do it. And they had to live up to both the endings of Angel the Series and After the Fall. Big shoes to fill. Hell, big shoes to even look at from a distance. I was both excited and sad for the end, but the confidence and I-can’t-wait-for-you-to-read-this factor that Mariah and Tisch were giving off gave me faith.

Fast-forward half a year later (man, time flies) and here we are. The on-going Angel title is done. Some things are left unresolved, such as Gunn and Connor’s beef (at one point, Gunn believes it is his duty to kill Connor before he becomes the next James… though, while it’s not spelled out, one can assume that Connor’s defeating James and saving Anne might make the guy okay in Gunn’s book) but the majority of the series has been tied up in a big, bloody, epic, and at times inappropriately sexual package. Angel was pulled into a possible future to help Wolfram & Hart deal with what James has done to the planet, while Connor, Gunn, Laura Weathermill, Mr. P, and Anne are readying themselves for a similar battle in the present. Like all good time-travel stories, it’s a bit of a mindfuck when you think about how certain events transpired, but all in all it’s a fitting conclusion to Angel. Angel and Connor beat the bad guy together, Angel takes a stand against Wolfram & Hart, and—with a page that echoes the end of AtF while paying tribute to the friends Angel has lost over the years—our hero walks off into the proverbial (and, luckily for Angel, metaphorical) sunset.

So. Angel the on-going series. The main title. IDW’s Angel. Angel #1-44. It was a great, uneven, beautiful, epic, memorable, intense, and goddamn awesome run. I wish it could’ve gone to issue #100 and beyond… because I already miss it.

(In just a few days… “Spike Rests in Peace: A Retrospect.” This blog loves Brian Lynch. Similar to the Angel and Illyria articles, this blog will take a look at Brian Lynch's epic Spike on-going series, as well as everything he's done with Spike in the past.)