Written by: David Tischman & Mariah Huehner, Artwork by: Elena Casagrande, Penciling Assist by: Emanuel Simeoni,
Ink Assist by: Giuseppe Quattrocchi, Coloring by: Ilaria Traversi, Lettering by: Neil Uyetake
Cover by: Jenny Frison
Blurb: Last issue Angel found James headless, Illyria altered, and James' sister in charge. The future is looking grim.
Page 01: Angel is left in the future to gape at Rowant, James/Myr's lover-sister lounging in a chair in his office. She's removed her "dear brother's" head, removing him as the threat that Team Angel couldn't seem to deal with. Of course, she wasn't really interested in saving the day. She's just greedy.
Page 02: Rowant tells Team Angel that she was impressed with her brother's being able to take an insignificant 'holding' of hers and turn it into a valuable asset.
Darrow objects to her notion that anyone could own a planet, but Illyria tells him she thinks more along the terms of a god, not in his human way. Illyria can relate to Rowant's viewpoint.
Commentary: Nice artwork throughout this issue, by the way. You wouldn't know that there were two pencilers and two inkers working the issue to complete it. And I must admit that I do like the over-the-top focus on James' headless-eyeless-ness. It makes me grin at how blatant it's pushed to the forefront at every opportunity.
Page 03: Angel encourages Rowant to talk on.
She is responsible for manipulating the Sisterhood of Jaro Hull into worshipping Connor. Her plan had been to have the Sisterhood unravel Myr's plans, apparently just because she's a jealous bitch, but the Jaro jumped the gun before Connor was fully ready and ended up blowing the plan.
Angel asks why she waited so long to finally make her move, if she was planning on stealing Earth from her brother anyway....
Commentary: I also like the way that IDW's creative team is tying up the loose ends before they pass the license off to Dark Horse. I don't remember if I've commented on this in a review, or just in comments of others' LJ entries, but I was bummed when DH received the Angel licensing. I thought they did a superior job with their beautiful art in Angel over the same in BTVS. I also liked the Angel plots more than Buffy's ... although, I do think that Nick Runge tends to blather on, drawing the plots out to painful levels and there were plenty of issues that I really complained bitterly about the writing -- ahem, see my unhinged ranting against issue 21.
But, I would have much rather preferred Buffy to come over to IDW then the reverse, simply because the artwork and coloring is always so bold. And, I like the new writing team of David and Mariah, so if they could have stayed with Angel's title and gotten an equally talented pair on Buffy, it could have really worked out well.
Ah, well. Dark Horse is where we're going and those reviews are coming, so let's move on....
Page 04: Rowant tries to pin her not interfering on the flexibility of timey-whimey, making it not important when she acted. Darrow disputes this, guessing that she was actually afraid of Angel's presence and that he would have succeeded over her weaker brother.
Illyria further tries to dispute that Connor could make much of a difference as he's basically human, but Rowant tells her this is no longer so. Because of previous events, combined with the anomaly that Connor is in the first place, she confirms that Connor is a power-in-the-making. She further lays this at W & H's feet, further adding to why The Wolf, The Ram, and The Hart's stock has plummeted in the cosmic stock market. Not to mention why, over in Spike, they're fleeing the scene and leaving the mess they've been in large part responsible for to TWILIGHT (the dimensional consciousness).
Commentary: I really want to give props to IDW's class in trying to tie their exit into the current storylines over in DH. I don't know the specifics, but I have to think that they technically weren't under any obligations to help Dark Horse out by tying their property to what Dark Horse was doing in order to smooth the way for Angel's continuation to fit into the new license with their rival. It shows a lot of respect for the Buffy Universe property that they would go that extra step.
I'm just going to tiny-lament once more that the licensing didn't go the other way.
Page 05: Illyria, showing again that she has changed in the intervening time between when Angel Investigations is and when Angel is, tells him that she's seen enough death throughout that led them here. She wants to end this for good by killing Rowant now.
Her empathic bond-companion, 'Pancakes', senses her intention to fight Rowant. She feels protective of Illyria and so rushes forward to slay Rowant in her place. This, alas, only gets Pancakes a beatdown.
Page 06: As Angel turns to a chanting Darrow -- which isn't exactly the support he was hoping for, Illyria engages Rowant as Pancakes lies bloodied against a wall. They trade banter.
Commentary: The only thing I'll ding just a little is Angel's unnecessary and continuous voiceover. We don't really need his thoughts.
Page 07: Illyria's swords blades are shattered against Rowant's invulnerability as Angel complains about how that is always a god-package. But Illyria is no slouch herself, especially since there is something weird going on with her that I hope will eventually be followed up on over at Dark Horse.
Anyway, Illyria insults Rowant's inflated sense of self-worth and her 'rather conventional' looks.
Commentary: This page would be an example of where Angel's commentary voiceover is just intrusive and nearly out-of-character.
Page 08: Rowant informs Illyria that her true face would break Illyria's little mind. She further tells her she would hear Illyria beg for her forgiveness. Not likely.
She tells Illyria that she'll kill her in pieces and enjoy it.
But Darrow has stepped up with his chanting, which has produced some sort of stallion-magic, causing Rowant to fall to the floor in a scream.
Commentary: There is some more really nice artwork going on, too. Our four artists on this issue really deserve another mentions of meshing so nicely on this issue.
Page 09: Rowant lies on the floor in spasms, as Darrow explains to Angel that W & H isn't totally useless after all. Darrow explains that Wolfram & Hart took centuries to locate The Vanishing Stone, a gem of considerable power that is able to kill gods.
Alas for Darrow, as he's explaining this wonder of ancient mysticism, he gets a sword stroke through the back!
Page 10: Darrow's attacker turns out to be Ms. Mendoza -- the lawyer assigned to Angel....
Page 11: Meanwhile, in the present, Angel Investigations finds themselves in a dire situation with Myr. They're surrounded [due to their own spectacularly bad tactics], much to Myr's evil glee.
Connor's voiceover completely misses the point: His plan sucked because it was so atrociously carried out.
Myr promises Team Connor that they'll all join Anne in becoming birthing vessels for more demons and orders them all taken into custody.
Page 12: Gunn tells Connor to do something, implying he should tap that demon-killing power he's developed, even though Connor has repeatedly told him he doesn't know how he worked it against the Jaro Hull squad. Worse though, Connor is so busy trying to come up with a plan of action in monologing thoughts, that he doesn't do anything. Which leaves it to Laura to act and inspire the others to start the fight once more.
Commentary: If there is one complaint I'll make against IDW's handling of our Buffyverse characters, it's the way that Connor is a buttmonkey ALL THE TIME.
Page 13: As the gang once again engage Myr's demonic henchman, he is complaining that he shouldn't have to kill everyone himself.
Meanwhile, Anne is shoved to the side and her weapon taken, which is trained and fired on Laura Weathermill.
Page 14: The convenient ball of know-it-all, Mr. Polyphemus, dashes in front of her, taking the mystic gun blast meant for her. He's shot out of the air, a smoking hole blown out in his side.
Page 15: As Laura comforts Mr. Polyphemus that he saved the day, when clearly he hasn't, Myr gloats to her that its her own fault. He tells her that Mr. P. performed a suicide maneuver, which is why Connor had been holding back. He implies Connor was trying to stop his friends from committing group hari-kari for him until he could find a way out of the situation.
Commentary: Uh, I'd say that was an implied attribute in Connor's planning abilities Myr. And, an awfully generous interpretation of the text to boot. Connor was simply incompetent and led a team of the suddenly stupid.
Laura promises, through tears of grief and frustration, that she'll find a way back after he kills her to spit on his dead face.
A voice offscreen says "Maybe I can help with that".
Page 16: The voice belonged to Gunn, who is holding one of those W & H zappers on Angel's kid. He tells Connor this is his last chance to pull out that new advance-fu, or he's going to have to shoot him dead.
Connor's eyes start to glow white....
Page 17: As Mendoza, Illyria and Rowant are apparently engaged offscreen, Angel kneels down next to Darrow. He's not dead yet, but he's on his way -- along with Pancakes, who is also still hanging on barely.
Darrow tells Angel that he's studied him for a long time and it's given him a lot of respect for the differences that Angel made in the world. He was hoping that they would be able to make a difference in this time and place, too. He further explicates to Angel that people remember him in this future... him and Connor... and tells Angel that he was a good father.
He warns Angel that the vampire will be doing things soon, out of character things, but he can't tell him any further what those things are. Angel points out that he won't be doing much of anything, being stuck here in the future at Rowant's lack-of-mercy, but Darrow tells him that he has a way back to intervene....
Commentary: Obvs, Darrow is again making reference to TWILIGHT. Although, how exactly those events would transpire that would allow Darrow to know about them is a question. Did TWILIGHT succeed, creating a world in which Myr's own plans could move forward unimpeded? If so, how does this future relate to FRAY?
Was TWILIGHT stopped over in BTVS, which left the forces of good too weakened to stop Myr? And if so, how does this lead to FRAY?
Was FRAY's future eliminated/shunted to a side-timeline by the TWILIGHT events? [Which I think may be being explored during Willow's current quest, maybe.]
I feel like there is an epic fanfiction just waiting to tie these things together waiting in the ether.
Page 18: Illyria joins Angel again, to complain that she's enraged. Behind her, Mendoza asks if Darrow is dead yet after his dying hint that Illyria is key in helping Angel get back to the proper time and place.
Right now, though, Mendoza was apparently an inside-man for Rowant in W & H because she hands The Vanishing Gem to her now.
Page 19: This is rewarded with a french kiss and promises of greater rewards later. First, Rowant must deal with Angel martyr complex and she warns him that he shouldn't do anything rash... after all, she killed Myr for him!
Page 20: Illyria is immediately suspect of Angel and threatens him with a beheading should she have erred in trusting him again. But, Rowant informs them that she's decided to return to the Outer Realms where she belongs and she has come to the conclusion that Angel is the one to oversee her restolen asset. Her only demand is that the demon farming continue, though she has no objections to Angel improving living standards for the majority of demons and humans living on Earth in addition.
In the meantime, Mendoza's reward for her fealty is to take over Wolfram & Hart & Mendoza.
Page 21: Angel, unsurprisingly, refuses the offer. He makes reference to AtS: S5 and how working from within evil organizations to do good doesn't work out. Rowant finds this sad and small, and now must end him.
But, Illyria's powers are developed in this future and she's able to manipulate time again. There are also the tantalizing hints that Jasmine is involved intimately with Illyria in some unexplained way. The point right now, is that she can send him back to stop Rowant by stopping Myr in the present.
Commentary: This is the plot point that I would hope to see explored over at Dark Horse. Jasmine wasn't exactly evil, though her actions could never be considered good while on Earth, but I could see where she would want to look after her 'father', despite his turning on her at the very end (see the whole of AtS: S4). But how she is in contact with and joining/acting through Illyria is a tale to be surely told. Especially, if they could work Jasmine's 'mother' - Cordelia Chase into the tale as well.
Page 22: Anyway, Team Connor is surprised when a time portal opens and drops off Angel in Myr's base. Myr doesn't seem all that shocked, though he does appear rather darkly amused.
The Good: I really liked the artwork and bold coloring throughout this issue.
I like both Rowant and Myr as characters, especially once Myr dropped the poorly-written 'James the Angel' subplot. I always find their scenes and dialog fun.
I liked Illyria's use in this tale and the hint that Jasmine is working to help stop Rowant and Myr for reasons unknown, but probably to do with saving Connor.
The Bad: Connor. The entire way he's written is badly handled and he looks like a complete moron.
Other Thoughts: I do find some of the story a bit confused, mostly because of the coolness of hinting at Angel's role in BTVS' title. The shout out and attempts to tie the two title together as Angel is about to leave IDW is admirable... it just muddles its own plot by doing so, though.
Laura Weathermill kinda grew on me. If she survives issue 44, I wouldn't mind if IDW and DH could come to an agreement where she could remain as a guest character over in BTVS and/or Angel & Faith.
ALSO REQUEST? If there was an explanation for the Jasmine scent/flower in Illyria's hair tied to another title, could you share in comments please? I haven't collected the side titles featuring Illyria's, so it's possible that this was explained already and I'm just not aware... a link to a review of the titles where this is explained would be a bonus goodie, if so.
The Score: I really liked the dialog in this one, absent the Angel and Connor thought monologues. The action was good and I like the way James and Myr have been portrayed through their main storyline. This one was a fun read. Connor's completely abused by the plot, but that is really a carryover from last issue.
3.75 out of 5
Up Next: Angel #44