Angel: After the Fall
Writer: Brian Lynch, Artwork: (pg1-2)- David Messina (pg3-22) Nick Runge, Inker: (pg1-2)- David Messina (pg3-22) Shayanne Corbett, Colorer: (pg1-2)- David Messina (pg3-22) Art Lyon, Letterer: Robbie Robbins, Editer: Chris Ryall,
Executive Producer: The Joss.
Cover By: Brian Miller
Page 01: The issue opens on a cartoony drawing of a pair of robbers dashing down a street. With them is a female hostage, who helpfully yells: "Help! I'm helpless!"
The pair of criminals comes to a halt, panicked at who or what they see before them.
It's Spike, wearing a long dark blue coat, black bodysuit and a catmask. He's standing atop their getaway car.
Page 02: Spike throws a pair of silver crescents, knocking the bank robber's guns from their hands. As he takes the girl into his arms, an old grey-haired man complains that Spike isn't keeping his head in the game - and he hasn't Sanshued yet, so this isn't acceptable.
But a voice from off-panel tells him to stop overreacting, for Spike doesn't fight alone - where he is, you can find his faithful sidekick, Connor! He's dressed as a, well, as a sidekick. Reddish-brown shirt over a green and yellow bodysuit, a pair of jeans with dark blue shoes and a blue catmask.
The old man (clearly Angel) wishes he had his vamp powers still so he could get in on the action....
Commentary: This opening is pretty amusing as it is clearly meant to be drawn in the old, garish-era Batman and Boy-Wonder style... but they misspelled Shanshu - which I choose to take as a sly clue this isn't real, but was probably just a mistake.
Page 03: Angel wakes up, and we're back to the more typical Angel artwork. He is recovering from the battle with the Lords of Los Angeles the day before, and since he is mortal now, he's a bit slower with the healing. The fact he isn't a vampire anymore is being hidden from everyone else via a glamor spell. Upon awakening he sees Nina waiting for him. She's looking much more human now that the moon and sun aren't visible in the sky - this is because there is currently a snowstorm taking place in L.A.-Hell.
Page 04: Angel has called Lorne about the sudden snowstorm. In an effort to change L.A. back to something resembling what the denizens are more used to, and to get rid of the tentacles from the street and such, his magic casters (the same who kept Silverlake relatively evil-free) caused the slight mess up. Lorne has become L.A.'s mayor for the duration of their stay in Hell. Groo and the 'Spikettes' are with him.
Angel has Lorne instruct them to help out with car accidents and the like for the moment. Groo has his winged stallion.
Commentary: I especially like the drawing of Lorne on this page. Also, I find it highly amusing to think of Angel using the term, 'Spikettes'.
Page 05: Angel assembles his team: Nina, Gwen, Connor and Illyria to hit the streets and see how they can help the residents. Illyria is concerned with leaving Wes unattended (remember, she has gathered up his corpse). Angel tells her that he has someone to watch over 'him'.
Also of interest is that people on the street know who he is now, thanks to the very public battle that resulted in the death of their oppressors, the former Hell-Lords. He's trying to get used to people greeting him.
Page 06: In the Hyperion, Spike has taken over watching over Wes' body for Illyria - Wes' ghost is also there, and he asks after Spider, as Spike seemed particularly close to her. Spider has joined Groo's team at the moment however, apparently jealous and upset over Illyria's constant presence near Spike's side.
This is also a worry for Wes, as he wonder if perhaps they've become intimately involved during the time when they were wandering Hell (see Spike: After the Fall). Spike assures him they're not involved with one another like that - he also tells Wes that while he feels his pain at being a ghost in W&H's employ, he'll find a way to kill him if it turns out he's there to find a way to hurt whatever remains of Fred within Illyria.
Commentary: Spike probably wonders about this because of Illyria's habit of changing to Fred and forgetting where she is whenever she see Wes standing around. And, there is a major lettering error - W&H are referred to as H&R here! How did that escape the editing??
Page 07: We jump to an apartment block, where Gunn has made his HQ. Gunn is taken Betta George to task for invading his lackey's head (during the 'First Night' mini-arc). Betta is feeling out of it because of the restraints on him that are keeping him from turning his telepathic powers against the vampires again.
He offers to explain the Slayers....
Commentary: I like the art especially on this page as well. Whereas I didn't enjoy Runge's artwork last issue, here there's a lot to enjoy.
Page 08: Gunn takes George to the basement where he has a few Slayers trapped. He pushes George to push his powers to freeze the Slayer's muscles, as the fish gets punched out by the girls who wish to escape.
Commentary: As we saw in Spike: After the Fall as well, Gunn has been throwing all of his lackeys to the Slayers he captures as a way to test their and his mettle.
Page 09: Angel and company are patrolling aboard the dragon, Cordelia. Illyria becomes impatient with all of the talk. She leaps off of the dragon to attack a vampire nest through a skylight.
Page 10: The rest follow Illyria in, with Angel warning her to leave one alive for questioning....
Commentary: I like how the main vampire guy's Dracula-mystique, which is immediately commented on and undercut on the next page. I also like that in order to compensate for his lack of superstrength, Angel has taken to wearing brass knuckles.
Page 11: The main vampire guy tells Angel he's about to fall, and then gets punched unconscious by Angel's brass-knuckled fist.
When he comes to, he's hanging upside down by an ankle held by Illyria over the street far below. Angel's dialog here is especially funny:
'On a schedule here, so I'll make it quick. This is not a bluff. This is a little thing we call bad cop/ bad cop/ bad cop/ bad cop/ crazy primordial seriously bad cop. The Lord of Westwood was killed. Had some powerful items with him. A pile of human bodies were nearby, drained of blood. The aura of inability you project coupled with your Drac wannabe wardrobe makes me think you didn't do it. But I figured you might know who did.'
Commentary: There are a few things to discuss here. First, Angel looks fine sketched in panel 1 and 2, but then suddenly loses 20 lbs and gets a far slimmer face in the bottom panel - meaning he doesn't look at all like Angel. Illyria would look good, if her boobs hadn't grown into a DD-cup, again. Angel is referring to the former Lord that Gunn is responsible for killing. This occurred oh-so-long ago in issue #1... which really shows the main weakness with "After the Fall" ... it's really drawn out and wandering before we get back to the point (and even then, it takes forever to get to the end of L.A. in Hell).
Page 12: 'Count Flouncy, Theater Vampire Extraordinaire' tells them that the group they're actually looking for (the reason for this 'patrol') has him more scared than them. He tells them to go ahead and drop him or stake him or whatever they're going to do, but Angel is already on the mysterious vampire's radar.
Connor was supposed to have led Angel to the toughest vampire he knows of, we find out here - but obviously this guy is not it, which irritates Angel enough for him to yell at Connor for bringing him to a bad-ass wannabe. He explains that he needs to find the vampire who is trying for a power play (by killing the Lord, Kr'ph) before he can complete whatever is going on....
Commentary: And, this takes some explaining again because he's referring to things which occurred 9 issues ago in #1 - Gunn killed the Lord in order to gain control of a mysterious Orb that the Lord had within his body. In addition, this is also how Gunn got his hands on Betta George, who was using his telepathic powers to 'push' the human slaves of Kr'ph to act as gladiators & defenders of him (which obviously didn't work out). The slaughtered humans that Angel mentions were caused by Gunn's attacking vampire army and by Gunn pretending to 'rescue' the human slaves, only to then feed on them himself.
Gwen gets into Angel's face about attacking Connor for trying to protect him, because he's been way off his game lately. She complains that everyone has had to jump in and save him multiple times already (maybe - but he's been holding his own mostly - despite his new mortality, so I don't know what Gwen is talking about). She tells him she doesn't blame Connor for trying to keep him away from anything dangerous, with the way he's been nearly getting himself killed so often lately.
Illyria then tells the group that Angel has been particularly vulnerable lately because he's no longer a vampire....
Page 13: Needless to say, everyone is shocked at this revelation... except Illyria herself, who is bored with all of them. She tells the rest that it has been obvious even through the weak magical glamor he has been radiating (as a god, she had already seen right through it). The Flouncy-Vampire amusingly asks if this makes him in the inner circle now, which Angel answers with a staking.
Connor is especially upset to learn that Angel has been human since the beginning thanks to W&H. He tells Angel he's going home, but Angel is on one of his missions now, and tells him that his sudden case of human doesn't change anything. Connor really lays into Angel here, which gives him some of his best dialog in this series:
'I guess it doesn't (make a difference to Angel). Picking fights with Lords, challenging half a dozen champions on your own, now going hunting for alpha vamps. Tell me, Angel, what's it going to take to make you realize that maybe you should just sit it out and be human? I get it. No matter what happens, you have to keep making amends until you die. Now, you understand if I don't feel the need to be anywhere near you while you do.'
Connor takes off on them....
Page 14: Gwen takes off after Connor, telling Nina to take the human to safety. Angel next confronts Nina, but she tells him she'll stand by him. With Connor having failed to take Angel where he wanted to go, he turns to Illyria. She was able to breach his glamor because she can read power (or the lack thereof). He tells her to take him to the vampire sitting on the power....
Page 15: That vampire is currently fighting against the captured Slayers, but his real objective is to force George to push the Slayers to stop attacking. The Slayers appear at first to have some resistence to his telepathic domination, but when Gunn leaves him George to stop them or be killed, the fish comes through.
Page 16: Gunn stabs one of the Slayers, as a lesson to George that no one is unstoppable.
Page 17: George turns his powers on Gunn to be let free, but he's not strong enough after all he's been through to overwhelm Gunn's will. Gunn takes him to the others in his gang, happy that he's proven himself.
Page 18: Gunn next orders Betta to try to contact someone outside of L.A. - He indicates they'll need someone from outside Hell to help them all get out.
Page 19: Betta manages, barely, to inform friends where he is and that he's been take prisoner from a "seriously nanners" vampire. But, when his friend flips to the news, she sees L.A. as perfectly normal.
Page 20: Gunn leads Betta to the roof, because he's convinced that whatever he's been shown regarding stopping Angel and saving everyone from Hell will happen in snow - which is what it is doing. George is surprised to see the white stuff coming down.
Page 21: Gunn tells him not to worry. He's forseen all of what is occurring and what they have to do to escape their circumstances have been laid out for him. He asks George to trust him.
Betta says, 'Interesting. One question, though....'
Page 22: 'Did you see this coming?'
"This" is Angel with sword atop his dragon. On board is Nina and Illyria, also. Illyria reports that this is where a vampire brimming with power will be located. Gunn has to admit that meeting Angel wasn't supposed to happen yet, according to his vision...
... In the meantime, Angel spots who the vampire is - "Oh my God."
Commentary: Again, Angel looks wrong, wrong, wrong. Nice Illyria, though. And, also, while it's about time that Angel gets who is behind the attacks from Issues 1 & 2 - this series does not need to be this long! Gunn's whole plan is still left unnecessarily vague, as is what he needs George for exactly..., the plot is really muddled as far as I can tell, like they're padding things out.
The Good: Some of the artwork is very good, especially concerning Illyria, Spike and Connor.
Finally, Angel learns that his real foe is Gunn. And, everyone else learns that Angel isn't a vampire, anymore.
Strong writing for Connor and Gwen, though I don't buy Gwen's assertion that everyone has been jumping in to save Angel lately because he hasn't been up to snuff.
I like that for all of Gunn's confidence in his own prophetic visions about how to 'save everyone', we are definitely getting the idea that he doesn't know enough. We don't even know if he has really forseen how to get everyone out of Hell or if he's just insane - I like that ambiguity.
I also like Spike and Wes' dialog together over Illyria/Fred.
I thought the comedy interlude with the fancy-vamp was amusing, if ultimately a waste of time.
The Bad: Muddled and protracted plot with little sense of pay off just around the bend. This is especially true with Gunn, which make it difficult to remain caring about what the hell he is planning for Angel. The fact that we're just now returning to things that happened way back in Issue 1 points to the meandering way this series is taking to the resolution of the arc.
Art problems again with Angel's facial features and Illyria's spontaneous breast growth.
The interlude with Gunn's "testing" of Betta and the fish contacting someone for help was a pointless diversion.
The Score: This issue was about revealing secrets - Gunn's involvement in events that started the series off and Angel's revelations that he has become mortal to those around him. Unfortunately, it's easy to have forgotten what most of the characters are referring to (Gunn and Angel, especially) because we've wandered so far off course with the whole Lords of L.A. vs. Angel arc and the 'First Night' interruption. There are some strong character scenes, but it would be nice if we could move things along, already.
3.0 out of 5.