Angel: After the Fall
Plotted by: Joss Whedon & Brian Lynch, Written by: Brian Lynch, Art by: Franco Urru,
Colored by: Fabio Mantovani (with assist by 2B Studio), Lettered by: Robbie Robbins Edited by: Chris Ryall
Cover by: Alex Garner
Page 01: Angel, in voiceover, complains that W & H turned him into human, and sent them all to Hell to punish he and his friends. All of this was in an effort to engineer his orchestrating the eventual downfall of all that is good for them. They turned Gunn into a vampire bent on saving the world by falsely believing he could kill Angel (which W & H was never going to let happen) and they ended up pushing Illyria to far, forcing her into the position of trying to destroy the world altogether.
Page 02: Illyria, through Betta George, tells everyone that they can't move backward (this would be to Gunn, who wanted her to timeslip them to before The Fall happened), they can only move forward.
Unfortunately for everyone (or maybe not, I guess), she wants to move to a point in time where absolutely nothing will exist in the universe; where not even time will exist.
Page 03: Spike's all-girl army has returned to action, trying to stop her. They're being led at the moment by Groo on his flying steed. In the meantime, Spider tries to get some people out of the way of Illyria's tantrum.
They're spotted by the God-King and dealt with brutally. Groo complains his death isn't nearly glorius enough, just before Illyria eats him....
Commentary: I'll lodge a complaint here for how the support players have appeared and disappeared throughout the series as needed. It's been annoying how they're there and then ignored until the writer decides they're needed again. Here, they're showing up again out of the blue just so Illyria can have a body count. I also thought Spider was going to play more of a role, since she was so central to the action in Spike: After the Fall, but she's really been overall pointless. Groo, too, has been relatively ill-used despite having some cool panels.
Page 04: Illyria continues to destroy the city of L.A. while trying to force reality to stay in a point where nothing will exist. Angel wonders if Fred is somewhere in there, but Wes tells him that although there are flashes of Fred's memories and personality, she's just not there (returning to the concept that Fred's spirit was destroyed in 'Hole in the World').
We get images of thing that are happening - the killed Groo's flaming sword falling to the ground, a Slayer trying to herd people to safety, Lorne looking up into a destructive breach in the sky over Silverlake (along with the rhyming witches), Spike lying unconscious under debris and fires raging in the background.
Commentary: Urru does fine with the artwork, but I miss Mooney here. I do love the panel showing nothing but Groo's spasming hand and his sword dropping to the pavement below, though. I'm also glad that they didn't forget that Lorne is still in the idyllic suburb which was shielded from the Hell of the rest of the city....
Page 05: Angel and Wes discuss options for stopping Illyria, but all they have is to hit her - a lot... and hard. Gunn however, wants her to succeed in ending the pain by ending everything and he sends his goons to run interference with Angel. Thankfully (since he's still very human), Spike's rescuees - the Slayers Gunn had been using for training purposes, are there to 'work out some aggression' on his side.
Page 06: Angel uses the opportunity to stalk toward Illyria's giant form, but W & H object to his trying to get killed after all of the resources they've just gotten done spending by rebuilding his shattered body.
In the background, Gunn and George wait to see what will happen next.
The answer is another timeslip....
Page 07: Angel is in the future timeline in which he's a vampire with a soul, but still causes the death of everything. He finds himself thrilled with the blood and the carnage around him. He guesses Illyria did this deliberately - to show him what he's about to fight against her to preserve - to show him she's doing the right thing by ending it all here and now.
Commentary: I love the artwork on Angel on panels 2 & 3 - really great job of making him look maniacally pleased with the death around him of both humans and demons.
Page 08: The timeslip ends and Angel shouts her name. He intends to fight, not because of the Shanshu Prophecy, but despite it -
Commentary: Which on the surface sounds all inspired and noble-like, but I can't help but think that his accepting death would have been more heroic instead of treading down the Shashu path, anyway. I'm just not finding this as inspiring as Lynch (and perhaps Joss, too, I guess) obviously wants me too). Instead, considering just what the stakes are, I find it selfish and self-centered.
Page 09: Spike has returned to consciousness and dug himself out (off panel) and the missing Connor has returned to action, though he's been injured pretty badly judging by the blood on his shirt. Angel musters them to strike back at Illyria....
Page 10: Angel makes plans to injure Illyria and render her helpless and he has already figured out that killing her outright isn't realistic. He tells them that they'll have help from W & H's troops, since they won't want Illyria succeeding anymore than he does.
Spike is obviously having a hard time dealing with the fact that Fred was never there, like he really hoped (along with Wes), but he's ready to kick ass. Connor has to break the news to Angel that they can't rely on Cordelia the Dragon for help, as he's already dead.
Page 11: "Cue the music," Angel says in a clever nod to the television conventions, as they start the 'heroic, power march' with
W & H's jet fighter-dragons flying overhead.
Commentary: I really like this page for calling attenting to and lampooning this stereotypical heroic meeting of the big threat scene. A scene that deliberately echoes Angel the Series' own 'Not Fade Away' scene, when the line was "Let's go to work"....
Page 12: Before they can get to Illyria, though, they have to get past Gunn and his grudge against Angel. Gunn complains bitterly that Angel keeps making everything about him, but that Illyria managed to begin his plan of 'fixing things' anyway and he isn't going to allow them to stop Fate from taking its course.
Angel tries to reason with Gunn, offering to duel with him once Illyria has been stopped, but since Gunn prefers non-existence to what he is at that moment, he says no. Worse than his obstinance, is that he's retrieved Groo's flaming, magical sword and uses it to strike down Connor.
Page 13: While Spike checks on the kid's condition, Wes tries to remind Angel they don't have time for this - but Angel is pissed off now.
He grabs up a dropped axe and goes after his former colleague.
Page 14: Angel's axe drops Gunn with a swipe at his mid-section. One of his vampire crew tries to intervene, but Spike is there to take the brute down. He tells him to end things with Gunn fast so they can get back to work.
Commentary: I really like the artwork here... and I like that Angel, despite being mortal now, can still kick Gunn's ass.
Page 15: Gunn lies on the ground and Angel heaves his axe over his head - pointing out to Gunn that he could have won if he were still human and angry.... Gunn tells him to go ahead and do it....
In the meanwhile, Illyria is battling W & H's jet-demons.
But, despite Connor lying on the ground, possibly mortally wounded, Angel starts to doubt killing Gunn - afraid that he is becoming the very thing that W & H wanted.
Commentary: The implication of the last few issues is that Gunn was turned specifically to push Angel to kill his friends, and I like that he's adding two and two and coming up with killing both Gunn and Illyria is really pushing himself toward that dark place that his prophecy foretold. Of course, I'd have done it anyway - Gunn is only going to keep coming after him if he doesn't and as to Illyria - if he doesn't stop her, it's the end of the world, anyway so.... I'm also a bit disappointed that a battle that has been building since Issue number 1 came to nothing, really.
Page 16: Angel chooses to spare Gunn. He turns to Connor, but his son just tells him if he has an idea to save the world, then get to it.
Angel calls on Betta George.
Page 17: Angel's also got a new plan to battle Illyria - memories of Fred. But not Illyria's memories, Wes'.
Page 18: While the Slayers are in the background fighting with Illyria's tentacles, Betta telepathically links Wes and Spike's thoughts to Illyria and flood her with their loving memories of Fred. It has the desired effect of distracting her from her world ending - and it hurts.
Page 19: Illyria is presented with everything that Fred meant to the gang and how what it is trying to do now is the exact opposite of who she was trying to be.
Commentary: I don't completely buy the power ballad-'love will find a way'-ness of all of this, though. Illyria already decided that Fred wasn't there and that though she tried to be her as much as possible for her friends - she can't. Why their memories would suddenly change that conclusion and make her stop, I don't really understand. Except for the whole cliche of 'the power of love'... how Celine Dion of Whedon & Lynch.
Page 20: In the moment of weakness caused by the power of Fred-Love (gag), W & H are able to make Illyria fall.
Commentary: I'll coast along with this... but seriously, love power?
Page 21: With Illyria's fall, Angel turns his attention to Connor, who lies dying. Connor tells his father that he's a good man and makes a dying wish that he remain a good man, then dies.
Commentary: Yeah, I was shocked when Connor actually died... and Gunn was his killer.
Page 22: Betta George, the Slayers and Wes stand over Angel as he sits with his dead boy. Spike, in a rare moment of sympathy for Angel, reaches out a hand toward his shoulder - grief very obvious on his face....
The Good: The plot and the writing was aces on this one.
Groo's sudden death.
Angel punching out Gunn was very satisfying.
The artwork was relatively strong throughout.
Connor dying at Gunn's hand was a shock.
The Bad: Just the way the minor characters pop into a panel and then are never seen again... Spider. And whatever happened to Kate and Nina? Why are the tertiary characters missing through so much of the fighting? It feels sloppy to me that we just don't see them and no one mentions them.
Other Thoughts: The power of love? Really?
Score: 4.25 out of 5