First Night, Part 2 of 3
Scripted By: Brian Lynch, Betta George Illustration: Tim Kane with Color by: Jeremy Treece
Wesley Illustration: Nick Runge with color by: John Rauch
Kate Illustration: Stephen Mooney with color by: Lisa Jackson
Lettered By: Robbie Robbins, Edited By: Chris Ryall
Plotting By: Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch
Cover By: Mike Oeming with Color By: Nick Filardi
Where We've Been: Los Angeles is in Hell... literally. The city has been cut off from the rest of Earth by the senior partners of Angel's nemesis, Wolf, Ram & Hart. In Issue 5, Angel was gambling on defeating the various Lords of Los Angeles in exchange for having the power to protect the citizens who were trapped with him. Lorne is one of these Lords, but he has remained true to Angel's friendship. Illyria is also fighting on Angel's side, but she is especially vulnerable in Hell because of her habit of changing back into Fred with no memory of being a god, or access to her powers. Spike is looking after her, constantly struggling to keep her in her Illyria-Fred form. Gunn never made it out of the alley alive and is currently plotting against Angel, in an attempt at saving everyone from what he perceives as Angel's incompetence, but since he has been turned into a vampire, his perspective is hideously skewed, including preying on the humans himself. Also dead is Wesley, but he's been contracted to Wolfram & Hart through the perpetuality contract he signed when Angel Investigations first took over the evil law firm at the start of Angel the Series, Season 4 "Home".
The After the Fall series has taken a diversion in the middle of the battle against the Hell Lords in order to flashback to the First Night that the gang found themselves in this Hell dimension. Previously we've seen Spike's, Connor's and Lorne's story. Now we return to the telepathic, levitating, air breathing fish, Betta George as he passes the time with Gunn's flunkie -
Page 01: Betta George, thinking his telepathy will allow him to escape, tries to make Gunn's flunkie vampire see Spike instead of him and makes a run for it, but is grabbed by the tail and smashed into a wall.
Page 02: We join Wesley's first night. He is sitting in a chair surrounded by white light.
Page 03: Across from him, in another chair is Fred. He bursts into a happy grin, having always thought that a piece of Fred's soul might have survived contact with Illyria, even though he was told explicitly that she was utterly consumed.
Page 04: Fred goes into Wes' embrace and tells him that they've earned some happiness. She takes him into a series of visions, including being on a romantic, horse-drawn buggie ride.
Page 05: She tells him they can even engage again in the occassional demon fight, like they used to, but in Heaven, they'll never get injured. And at the end of the day, they'll always return to bed side by side.
Page 06: She tells him that she's been waiting for him to arrive and Wes tells her this is Heaven... before adding:
"If only... this wasn't a lie."
'Fred' grins and asks him if she spread it a little too thick.
Page 07: She tells her Heaven wouldn't be so cliched. Plus, Fred would have almost immediately asked after the others. She would have cared about how they were.
She tells them that she knew he'd be too smart to fall for it, but the bosses thought he'd be so desperate to believe that they could set him up to be crushed when the deception was finally revealed.
Page 08: The fake Fred reveals the fact of Wes' contract to him.
Page 09: She informs him of what they want from him... he'll be the eyes and ears for them to keep track of Angel's goings-on in L.A. Hell. He asks her if she really thinks he'll be a company man, but she hangs the possibility of his truly seeing Fred again over his head.
He tells her they'd never do that, anyway, even if he played ball and if she really were still out there somewhere, but she tells him thusly:
"You believe that. But you'll still do it, because there's the ever-so-slightest glimmer of pathetic hope you'll be reunited after the smoke clears."
At the same time, Wes begins to manifest his glasses and a business suit.
Page 10: Fake Fred shows him what has happened to Los Angeles and gives him a message for Angel: What he's seeing now is his fault and he should behave himself from now on or things will get worse.
Page 11: Fake Fred sends him on his way with her telling an unseen presence that he'll do the right thing, promise of Fred or no. The voice mysteriously replies that they can only hope so....
Page 12: They tell Fake Fred that Wes has no idea of what his real purpose there is, but he'll be the reason they finally win.
The Good: I like Fake Fred - she's snarky. I also like how in her first appearance, you can tell by the look on her face that something isn't quite right.
It's great that Wesley wasn't fooled, and the reason for his seeing through the deception.
Most of the artwork is finely done.
The Bad: Nothing, really.
Other Thoughts: I don't like the way their flirting with finding a way to retcon that Fred wasn't destroyed - I hope they don't follow through with that. It will make what happened to her far more tragic, if she really is gone forever.
Some of the artwork is a bit more questionable.
The Score: We have still have Kate's story....