Written by: David Tischman & Mariah Huehner; Art by: Elena Casagrande; Pencil Assistance: Emanuel Simeoni;
Coloring by: Ilaria Traversi; Lettering by: Neil Uyetake
Cover by: Jenny Frison
Blurb: In the present, Connor, Gunn, Laura, Mr. P (the floating demonic library) and Anne have banded together to fight James. If they can just find him. You'd think a not-really-an-angel Bad Guy would be easy to spot, especially if he's spawning new demons at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, in at least "a" future, Angel is also trying to stop James... [edited for spoilage; that was weird].
Page 01: Angel comes to after Illyria rendered him unconscious tied to a chair. He's a bit confused.
Page 02: He further finds that Darrow is still alive and also bound. Angel tries to get some answers from Illyria, but she's in cryptic mode. She's trussed Angel up, because he's partnered with W & H again, and they are not to be trusted.
"I am living proof of that", she says.
Page 03: Darrow tries to schmooze up to Illyria, but she doesn't buy his compliments for things that have happened between present-time and this future. All it really does is annoy her. We also find out that the land-squid is sentient and that she and Illyria are connected in some empathic/telepathic way.
Page 04: Angel tries to convince Illyria that teaming up with Darrow is the right action to take for the moment in order to deal with a larger threat. But, Illyria points out how everytime Angel has ever tried to do the right thing by partnering with the law firm, everything always goes wrong. While Angel wants more than anything to stop James, Illyria wants more than anything to break
W & H.
Page 05: Angel makes a speech about how the future has become a squalid and hopeless place under James' care and cannot be allowed to continue. He admits that he may be fighting Wolfram & Hart forever, but states that today they're not the enemy.
Illyria doesn't seem to be buying it. She draws her sword and Angel braces... she swings... Angel thinks, "This is going to hurt"....
Commentary: I liked this opening. I really like that it is Illyria who wants to take the stand against W & H, despite the threat of James' and her referencing her - rather than Angel's - personal connection with them. Now, she could easily be referring to being brought into this world only to not have her army and being unable to control her full powers. But, the tone made me think she was actually referencing Fred's fate in there, too, which caught my interest. As we know, during 'After the Fall', Illyria and Fred's personalities were swapping back and forth, revealing the depth of how much of Fred's persona is still buried in Illyria even if her soul is gone. We saw that before of course, when Illyria reshaped into Fred during AtS: S5, but it wasn't clear if Illyria was actually impacted by Fred or if she was simply wearing a mask for convenience and others' benefit.
'After the Fall' made it a bit less ambiguous and I think that it is reflected here as well.
Page 06: We rejoin Connor.
He's internal-monologuing to himself about 'playing to win'. This involved his buying an armored humvee and wearing dark shades.
Page 07: They've arrived at an area where Angel and Gunn had taken out some demon priests at some point in the past and which may be the current location of Myr. With them, they have heavy duty weaponry designed against demons, specifically, provided by the present's W & H.
Laura mentions that despite being informed by their W & H contact that James/Myr was birthing a demonic army, they haven't seen any uptick in demonic populations.
Page 08: As the team assembles, Gunn continues his not-very-subtle glaring at Connor. Anne pulls him aside to whisper not to do anything rash until Myr is taken care of, and then they can determine if Connor's evolution is a threat. He reluctantly agrees.
Commentary: I like this development, I think. Connor's entire history has been one that should have been impossible, so it makes sense that he would be destined to be a Power That Be, eventually. I also like that Gunn is determined to take him out before that can happen, considering the only 'powers' they've ever had up close and personal interactions with have always been evil. The 'Good' powers tend to stay in the background and act indirectly. Connor's presence is definitely not indirect.
Page 09: Connor issues orders to go kick some ass, but his 'cool moment' is interrupted by Anne, who has an attack of mid-section pain. She is definitely infected with a demon spawn.
Page 10: Which is confirmed by a scan by Mr. Polyphemus. He sates that the fetus is not human. Anne apologizes for not being upfront about it before, but claims she didn't want to be forced to leave by them. She asks Connor to kill it and Gunn snottily refers again to Connor's new demon-dusting energy power.
Connor points out, again, that he doesn't know how he worked it against the Sisterhood.
Commentary: I'm glad we're dealing with the 'Anne thing', but I can't help but think if Mr. P could have scanned her so easily, why wouldn't they have done so earlier? She was a prisoner in a demon-birthing facility and had already stated that all of the teens had been infected that she'd been with. It seems logical to me to have given her a quick medical/magical scan just as a matter-of-course.
I also don't buy that Anne "didn't want to be sent away". She has a personal relationship with Gunn and she's a contact of Angel's. Why would she think the gang would do any less than try to help save her? Even if they failed, I'd hardly think that she would think they were just going to throw her out on the street to fend for herself.
Page 11: Anne has a small panic attack at the thought of dying, but Laura tells her that they're going to help her. They all turn to Connor to decide on trying to use his demon-dust power on the thing inside of Anne....
Page 12: Apparently, the answer is not yet, because now they're inside of James' warehouse facility. They spot a 'stargate' portal being constructed. James is trying to establish his distribution routes and is getting peeved that it is taking so much effort.
Commentary: No. No, no, no. Y'see, we left page 11 on Connor being faced with a choice of possibly killing Anne in an attempt to abort her demonic fetus. At this point, we should have jumped into the future with Angel, reminding us that it didn't really matter what Connor chose, because ultimately he was going to fail to stop Myr anyway. And then, you jump back to this scene, where we find out that Anne is with them and apparently Connor either couldn't or wouldn't deal with the issue at this time.
Going from everyone focusing on Connor to make this hard choice directly to the following page where no choice was made about it undercuts the dramatic tension of Connor's choice and Anne's fate. It was written/set up as a minor cliffhanger moment, and then uncliffhanged ungraciously without so much as a dialog bit from Connor about saving Anne by taking out the Big Bad or something.
Page 13: Just as the dimensional gate begins to operate and James is going off on his "rebirth through horrible death" spiel, Connor and gang interrupts. This only amuses Myr.
Commentary: It just makes me think, "Connor, you're an idiot. He's already shown that he can beat all of your asses with one hand tied behind his back. How's about some stealth? How's about some recon and some sabotage and a little bit of sniping rather than stepping out into the open and giving him time to react?"
Page 14 & 15: Our gang starts to slaughter the demon horde around Myr, as the Big Bad gloats that he can wait another thousand years if need be. He accuses Connor of being like Angel in that they don't act, they react with no sense of the big picture.
Connor calls him an arrogant douche and that he's about to kick his ass.
Commentary: So, this two page spread is apparently supposed to be a power moment for AI against James. It isn't. Laura yelling, "Mother f$%kers!" doesn't change that. Connor had his gun trained right on James... did he pull the trigger on him... no. No, he did not. Instead he allows James to monologue and then wastes shots from the anti-demon gun on the fodder. And, by the way, so does Gunn and Laura while Anne just stands in the background.
So, you have three heavily armed people and Anne. Now, Anne may be under the influence at the moment, so you could see her being unable to fire on James/Myr in her present condition -- her mental status hasn't been made entirely clear. But you still have Gunn, Laura and Connor with guns especially designed to kill demons with on shot. Would it have impacted James in the slightest? We don't know... BECAUSE NO ONE BOTHERED TO SHOOT HIM!
This isn't an AI power-moment, comics-crew. This is incompetent and arrogant showboating by the good guys that is going to leave them open for a counter offensive by a power that far outstrips them. Your attempt at given them a 'bad ass' spread has only made them look like idiotic buffoons. Good job!
Page 16: After wasting ammo and time with the underlings, all while James is standing there unconcerned, Anne has another collapse. Gunn tells Connor it's time to get to the main event... which, no... it's late for that.
James mentions ripping off Angel's hands and feet and promises worse for his son.
Page 17: So, does Connor now shoot Myr in a desperate attempt to stop him when he's had more than enough opportunity to surround himself with protective power/magic?
No. No, he does not.
Instead he demands that James undo the implantation in Anne. Because James has proven up to now to be entirely reasonable to demands. No, wait. I'm wrong. He hasn't been. Which means he just teleports in more demon troops and it becomes obvious to AI that he's just been toying with them. BECAUSE YOU LET HIM.
"We really gotta start strategizing better," says Gunn. ['Or at least get better writers,' says I]
Page 18: We now rejoin Angel, Illyria, Darrow and 'Pancakes' in the future. We find out that Illyria was going to behead Angel, but he convinced her to wait until she is sure that is truly needed. In the meantime, they've reached an accord to face James instead.
Commentary: And, it is presented in the most awkward way imaginable. This is like a 'group story' exercise, where everyone adds a line of dialog with no predetermined outcome, and everyone is still off on their own idea of where the story should go, so it's not exactly hanging together nicely. I really think the plotting of these elements needed some more discussion.
Page 19: As the gang proceed through Myr's living quarters, Darrow offers that their plan will be to cripple the dimensional gates. By cutting off a means of escape for the demons who are crowded unbearably upon Earth, they may be able to coerce them into open rebellion against Myr. Once they dislodge his preeminence, W & H will be able to clean things up.
Angel asks why they don't just time travel to the past when this will be easier, but Darrow tells him that W & H are no longer into time manipulation. This makes sense considering what a mess they've made of things for this very reason.
In the meanwhile, there is a security patrol approaching.
Page 20: Angel starts to issue orders to take out the patrol, but Illyria objects and lets them pass by. This surprises Angel, as Illyria was never one to pass on a fight. But, she states that the patrol demons aren't individuals and are as much victims as the street people Angel wanted to save earlier. She also states that engaging in combat against the foot troops would only reveal their trespass, and would be of little tactical advantage.
After the patrol has passed by, our troop reaches Myr's office suite. Angel wonders to himself at the changes Illyria has gone through.
Page 21: They find James sitting in a control chair, and Angel begins to confront him, but something is odd. James doesn't react to their intrusion.
As Angel reaches his chair, he finds Myr missing his head!
A voice off-panel says, "I pulled and it just came off..."
Page 22: The voice belongs to dear sister, Rowant, of course.
Angel realizes that if she managed to kill James so easily, then he, Darrow and Illyria are in some major shit.
The Good: I really did enjoy the overall developments (but obviously I had some issues with how they were written).
I really liked the shock ending, though I'm also sorry to lose Myr. He was fun.
The Bad: The way that Connor and his assault was handled against James was just... clumsy and sad and... badly written.
Other Thoughts: There were other examples of really clumsy plotting, as well, as mentioned in commentary.
The Score: I find this one a bit hard to score. I like the future!scenes and I like Myr confronting Connor and his team, but the plotting and illogical actions of our characters are so egregiously bad that I can't help but score negatively for the handling of those elements.
I loved individual scenes, I hated how the scenes were strung together... does that make sense?
I think I have to go with 2.75 out of 5 stars.
Up Next: IDW's Spike, Issue 4 and 5