Angel: After the Fall
Plotted by: Joss Whedon & Brian Lynch, Written by: Brian Lynch, Art by: Franco Urru, Colored by: Fabio Mantovani (assisted by 2B Studios), Lettered by: Robbie Robbins, Edited by: Chris Ryall
Cover B by: Franco Urru
Page 01: We start with a flashback to the night of Connor's birth when Angel first held is son. The second pane has him cradling his body. He's just been killed by Gunn
Commentary: This is one of the best panels I've seen in 'After the Fall' which bodes well for the issue....
Page 02: As Angel cradles Connor's body, the W & H demon army closes in. Another dragon, this one dark with glowing eyes and maw descends. Gunn is indignant, telling the dragon to back off and let Angel mourn. Wes tries to tell Angel they need to fight, but Spike interrupts him.
The W & H dragon is a personification and speaks for Wolf, Ram & Hart. It tells Angel that they trust they've made their point. They tell him he should return to his hotel. He can go on saving the humans from L.A. presumably until such time as they're ready for him to play his big role in the final Apocalypse.
Page 03: Angel's answer is to pick up a sword and thrust it up through the underside of his jaw and then to start on the foot soldiers. Wesley tries to warn Spike that they have to stop him before W & H gets really pissed, but Spike reminds him that the demon army won't kill Angel - not with the bosses needing him so badly.
A point that Wes quickly reminds Angel himself of....
Page 04: Wes confronts his bosses with this truth, which they readily agree to. They tell the assembled that if he gets himself hurt, they'll just yank him from earlier in his timeline, returning him to whole. Wes and Angel speak shorthand to each other and it is obvious that they both realize how they can get out of the mess that W & H has placed them in.
With Angel having a plan of action again, Wes takes his leave.
Page 05: Spike snarks but Angel tells him he'll just have to trust that he knows what needs to be done - which Spike snorts at. But, he doesn't argue the point when Angel tells him and the other to hold back the rest of W & H's foot soldiers.
He marches over to Gunn and tells him to get up (off of the ground - where he ended up last issue when Angel put him).
Page 06: Angel confronts Gunn over his visions being lies, but Gunn insists he's going to make things right for his friends. Angel agrees - before slashing him with his sword and punching him out.
W & H, getting an idea that something is going on that they don't quite understand, demands that the two of them stop fighting as they don't want Angel damaged any further. They try to make the point with their demon army, but Spike, Betta George and the rescued Slayers get in their way.
Page 07: As W & H and Gunn figures out that Angel is goading Gunn into killing him, because he's not under W & H's control, Angel continues to berate Charles for being an utter failure. While this is happening, Wes walks over to Illyria's fallen form, and walks 'into' her... hmmm.
Commentary: I love this page too - especially the last panel... Angel screams at Charles to "Rise up" and runs him through with his sword. Two panels previously, Gunn picked up the flaming sword he used to kill Connor from the ground, so we can see what's coming in this "brilliant" plan. The whole page is filled with raining fire and it's given a fantastic look (presumably the part that B2 took care of)....
Page 08: Angel beats on Gunn, forcing his demon to emerge and strike back. Just as Gunn hauls back his magic sword to strike Angel down, he drops his own blade and allowing it to happen....
Page 09: Gunn's sword swipes through Angel's throat in a lovely full page panel with that absolutely beautiful fire effect....
Page 10: With Angel lying dying (again), W & H rages at Gunn for ruining things. Spike, still confused and shocked at what Angel has done has things explained by Wes - returned from whatever he was doing with Illyria. He explains that if W & H want to save Angel, they have to reach into his own timeline and restore his past self - and they have to do so from before he entered Hell... i.e. they have to restore everything to before L.A. was plunged into Hell.
Spike points out that won't help Wesley, as he was already dead by that point - but Wes tells him he knows. He walks away, again.
Commentary: I don't fully buy into the resolution here. Why W & H would have to go back to before Angel came to Hell in order to "restore his earlier self" is left vague which makes me think there isn't any good reason. It seems to me, they could have just as easily plucked Angel from when he was standing on the roof, before his leap to the ground where he first got injured and discovered his mortality. It also doesn't explain why they implied they could pluck a 'better Angel' from before in his timeline, but here Wes talks as if (and it is borne out) that they're actually going to reset the timeline itself (except not - but more on that in a second). The whole explanation just doesn't make much sense... like too much of the motivations and actions of W & H, as well as Wes and Angel throughout this storyline.
Page 11: Spike watches Wes and asks him where the hell he's going, but his attention is taken up by a demon throwing a huge knife through his forearm....
Commentary: Things are unclear here as well - but in the last panel of pg 10, Wes is walking (again) toward Illyria. I believe that he may have merged with her - or at least shared his memories and feelings for Fred like they all had through Betta George last issue. I'm saying this because of what Illyria says later....
Page 12: The scene has suddenly changed - Spike is surrounded by rain and finds himself back to battling in the alleyway from 'Not Fade Away'. Illyria is there as well, and she's back in her humanoid body. She tells Spike that she remembers everything that happened, as does Spike. Even though they're back only moments after the battle began, they both remember that months had passed. Spike turns to check on Angel -
Page 13: - and he's back to full health, as well as being a vampire again....
Page 14: Angel thinks to himself about W & H while battling their army in the alley. He realizes that when he died in Hell, they couldn't just return him to the normal timeline to continue on his supposed destiny. They were forced to return things to the way they were before he could fully succumb to his wounds in order to protect his role in the final times.
In the meantime, Illyria is having a small freak out - she says that she can't get Wes out of her head, and that she finally understands what Fred had meant to him and what she'd take away. She takes out her guilt and frustration over it on W & H's demon army.
Commentary: See my prior complaint about the shaky logic at play here. I still see no reason that W & H had to return them to the 'normal timeline' to save Angel. I also don't see why they did so now, when they didn't bother while Angel was bleeding out on Gunn's apartment floor. I expected some sort of reboot because too much had happened that had to be reversed somehow (including L.A. being stuck in another dimension) but it doesn't stop my disappointment with the entire arc basically being undone by a cosmic reset button. The only thing that doesn't make the whole title a waste of time, is that everyone has been returned with their memories intact of what had happened in the other timeline. That's at least an interesting development.
Page 15: Both Angel and Spike realize that Illyria is acting uncharacterisically human in her anger toward W & H's goons.
The dragon, Cordelia, also makes a return to the alley (she had been torn apart by evil dragons), blasting fire against Angel's foes.
Page 16: With everyone returned to before the portal, Angel realizes that Gunn still needs to be saved from the vampires that wanted to turn him on W & H's orders. He takes off down the alleyway to find him. Gunn is still grievously wounded, eye missing and bleeding all over the ground.
Page 17: The vampire who had turned Charles in the other timeline also remembers everything that happened before. He warns Angel off, telling him he'd do it right this time, but Angel stakes him. Cordy the dragon and her fire breath wipes out the others.
Charles begs everyone to leave him be and let him die, but Angel tells him it's not that simple....
Commentary: I thought that Gunn was a bit delusional here and was begging the vampires to leave him be and let him die, rather than being turned. I still think he was talking to them - but I also think he may be talking to Angel, here. Charles is going to have a lot of guilt to live with (on top of the guilt he was already carrying for killing Fred's professor and then arranging for Illyria's "delivery").
I'm also really happy iwth the artwork on this page. The fire effects and the vampire's skeletons in Cordy's fire breath is just cool looking.
Page 18: Angel has scooped up Charles' battered body and he rushes him to W & H HQ, where the healing potions he'd used himself in Hell should still be sitting, now that they're back in pre-Hell-timeline. But, when he, Spike, Cordy and Illyria arrive with him, they find that the building is completely gone. In it's place is an empty lot (not even a ruins) and a sign announcing the imminent building of a Doublemeat Palace franchise.
Commentary: That is a nice visual callback to BTVS....
Illyria complains that buildings don't just disappear, but Spike takes it in stride, telling her that it isn't the weirdest thing they've seen in the last few months - or even hours.
Page 19: With W & H a bust, Angel rushes Gunn to an emergency room - where the waiting room is full of people who remember that they were in Hell.
Page 20: The emergency staff prep Gunn for emergency surgery. A nurse asks Angel if it was a demon, a vampire or something else. He's not sure what to say - he's not used to having people actually acknowledging that sometimes it's not just a 'wild animal attack', but these folks were stuck in Hell with him and they all remember what happened to them. Angel steps outside "for air".
Page 21: And runs into Connor, who also is no longer dead - although he does remember that he was dying. Angel grabs hold of him, weeping in a most-un-Angel like way to find his son alive again.
Commentary: This page is also really well done, art wise.
Page 22: Angel and Connor's reunion is interrupted by a former slave who'd been freed by his actions. He implies that Angel is going to have to get used to being famous, at least in the L.A. area as everybody remembers him fighting Bruge and the other Hell-Lords to rescue their captives.
Page 23: Outside of the emergency room, and crowd gathers of people who'd been helped by Angel in L.A.-Hell. Connor tells him he's moved up from Urban Legend to just Legend - which Angel doesn't know how to react to....
The Good: Most of the artwork in this one is really well done.
I like all of the dialog.
This is a nice lead in to what is happening in Buffy's title, where Harmony is about to make vampires known worldwide with her television series. Now, not only will vampires be well known, but Angel is about to be a public figure, too. It'll be an entirely new situation.
I really liked Angel and Connor's reunion was handled - Angel all emotional and Connor being laid back about the whole 'used to be dead' thing.
I really like Gunn's vampire face on the cover.
The Bad: Logic flaws, again. W & H returning everybody to pre-Hell visit doesn't exactly add up - but it will be interesting (that means Gwen, all of the humans and the Demon Lords and Bruge's son should also be alive).
Other Thoughts: I'm not crazy about this taking 16 issues(!) to tell and I don't like that they're going to obviously save Gunn when he really should have died in the alley. I like that Angel and Buffy are paralleling each other as far as their existences going public as it allows us to pretend they're occurring in the same universes, even with the different publishers. Even though they used a reset button, I'm glad they went with everyone still retaining their memories of what happened in L.A. (the rest of the world doesn't know, of course, as we saw a few issues ago). Angel being well known from his time fighting in Hell should be interesting as he'll have to deal with having some notoriety, now.
Score: I enjoyed the issue, but it seemed to take an awfully long time to get to the wrap up, and in the end it has some really flawed plotting. I like the change in the status quo that has been set up with W & H's sudden exit and everyone having clear memories of Angel and what they have gone through. That should open up some interesting story possibilities. The dialog and artwork are really good throughout, but the arc itself was a disappointment, especially when it came to the interactions of Angel's extended cast. It was so nice to see them including Gwen, Nina, Kate and the characters from Spike's "After the Fall" series, but they didn't do anything with them and they weren't put to use in this issue at all....
I don't know - good, but not all it should have been: 3.50 out of 5
And that makes the arc's final tally: 3.61 out of 5 - not too bad, despite some of the weaker issues - if only there wasn't so many logical flaws in the storytelling.