Written by: Kelley Armstrong
Art by: Dave Ross
Colored by: Charlie Kirchoff
Lettered by: Robbie Robbins
Edited by: Chris Ryall
Cover (B) by: Nick Runge
Page 01: Angel is on the roof of a building in Los Angeles. He's noting how quiet it has been ever since their collective return from Hell. It's like the city is waiting to see if they're really back.
In the meantime, we see a figure leap at him from behind. It is a horned demon, armed with a large knife.
Angel was aware of his approach, and easily grabs him from out of the air, slamming him onto the rooftop.
Page 02: The would be assassin is easily unarmed. Angel learns that the former Lords of L.A. (excepting the Shark-guy who was killed by the other Lords for betraying them in Hell) have placed several bounties on Angel's head for ruining the good thing they had going back in the W & H Hell dimension.
Angel throws him off of the roof when he hears someone in trouble.
Page 03: The person in danger, a woman, is being menaced by a fellow vampire. Angel complains aloud that he doesn't feel like he's making a difference now that he's back to patrolling the streets for these one on one encounters. The vampire is quickly beheaded.
Later, he's fighting another demon and stakes him.
Still later, another demon confronts him near a roaring blaze and mentions that he heard about Angel's prophecy of helping W & H at some future point.
Commentary: What is interesting here is Angel's line, "I've redeemed my past, and am coming to terms with my possibly uncertain future. So now what?"
This is interesting, because it really indicates that we may be getting Angel moving in new directions. We've spent years with a broody Angel feeling guilty, but here are indications that he is leaving this behind him. That could be good or bad. On the one hand, feeling like he has atoned now for his past could give him freedom to enjoy his evil fighting and to build a life divorced from the heavy brooding.
But on the other, could letting go of his feelings that he has something to make up for drive him toward W & H's future vision by stripping him of his feelings of responsibility and obligation toward those around him?
Scene 04: The demon he was fighting is kicked off of him and into the flames to burn. More time later, Angel is confronting another vampire and tells him things have become simpler again, quieter without W & H, like when he'd first arrived in L.A.
The vampire suggests he should do what he was doing when he first arrived, to return to what he knows. Angel thanks him and then dusts him.
Commentary: I'm not sure I like this bit. Not the 'return to the beginning' ... that part is fine. I'm not sure I like the attitude that Angel displays here. Over the last few pages, he's really seemed pretty jokey about dispatching the demons. There's something 'off' about him to me.
Scene 05: Angel strolls down the street talking to himself about returning to when he used to do good, rather than putting out little fires the way he has been (over the last few pages). A group of toughs are on the street and his name gets a shout. The guy runs up to him, but rather than starting another fight, he asks for a pic with Angel.
He really can't go back to the beginning like it was. Even though a month of relative normalcy has occurred around Los Angeles, there have been changes. People know him, now. They know what he is and what he did for them. He can't skulk about in the shadows.
Commentary: Actually, I don't like this page: First, Angel is just chatting himself up here, when he should be thinking these thoughts.
Second, his whole "back when I did some good" thoughts are ridiculous since it has only been a month since he saved the entire city and he's spent the last few pages fighting evil demons... which, uh, would be exactly like he used to do - so...? How are things going to be different by 'going back to the beginning'... isn't that basically what he's been doing?
Finally, he's complaining that he's 'putting out little fires'... but in the same breath is going on about returning to the beginning... S1 of Angel basically had him putting out little fires (i.e. monster of the week plots). So, if he wants to return to the beginning, then shouldn't he be embracing his patrolling for the 'street level' threats in the city, instead of whining that he isn't doing enough since the return from Hell? This is really muddled, but I don't think it is Angel's confusion so much as the writer not adequately showing where and why he is ready to re-embrace the mission he had when he first arrived in L.A.
Scene 06: Angel drops by Connor's apartment and explains that he wants to assemble a new team - like Angel Investigations - to help people out around L.A.
Connor thinks it's a great idea, but declines joining him. He wants to get a real job and make his own way. While they talk, the phone rings and Connor lets the machine get it. It is Gwen, trying to convince him to talk to her.
Scene 07: Connor asks after Angel's team roster, but finds out that so far Angel is the team. Gunn is with Illyria (probably heading off into their limited series, which I'm unable to discuss since I don't know anything about it and won't be buying it), Spike was non-committal on the venture and Lorne is running a cafe now.
Connor wishes him good luck, but tells him he actually has an interview to get ready for....
Scene 08: As Angel wanders out into the evening, he wonders about getting a fresh start. But, again he's attacked by vampires seeking the bounty on his head. He is able to take out two of them relatively easy, but as he is wrestling a vamp on the ground, we see another dropping down from a roof top for his turned back....
Scene 09: From out of the mouth of an alley nearby, Kate leaps out and intercepts the dropping vampire. She makes quick work of him with a stake. Kate tells Angel she's heard about his plans to re-open his investigative service and wants in.
Commentary: We need to talk about Kate a little bit. The comic version of Kate isn't at all like the television character. Now, we can assume that she's had a lot of time to change since she left the series, so that isn't really a problem per se. But her wild hair and her new clothes and her dialog are so different that it can be jarring to try to picture Elisabeth Rohm trying to play this part.
It just doesn't work - you're going to have to accept that comic-version Kate is not her television predecessor and let it lie. I don't mind at all re-introducing her, but I hope we get some sort of flashback and see her character as we knew her change into this version of her at some point. Even the comic itself spotlights the change in the character by having her joke with Angel about his having trouble recognizing her without her scowl.
Nice artwork job on the vampire dusting, too, by the way.
Scene 10: Kate is back in her street clothes. She's with Angel in their new HQ, an abandoned church. She thinks the location is perfect since he's going to be L.A. protector. She also explains a little bit that after she left things changed for her. She realized that even though she left the police force, she was really missing helping people. She's also revealed, sort of, that she hasn't stopped with the demon fighting while she was away.
She has also already arranged press releases for the new Angel Investigations to get them started.
Scene 11: What she hadn't planned on is how popular Angel has become since the Hell-Angeles mess. Outside is an entire crowd demanding to 'be saved' by Angel....
Scene 12: Things for the new agency aren't easy - but not for the reason he and Kate thought. First, they get called out on a case involving a human sacrifice, only to find out that it was just two guys wanting an autograph on their bloody piece of paper... to make it more valuable on e-Bay.
The next case involves a woman setting them up to be attacked for money, rather than needing their help. (Edit - Duh, she's trying to collect on the bounty for Angel - I didn't get it at first.)
Scene 13: When Angel and Kate get themselves out of the latest phony case and make it back to HQ, they find two strangers waiting for them. They're introduced as being from the City Council. They tell him that they're members of a new committee being set up to handle the apocalypse fall out.
Commentary: I'm glad to see that the creative team are trying to deal with everyone remembering what happened. I'm still not convinced that this is going to be a good development story telling wise, though. I can see two things happening that are going to be a real problem either way:
1) The whole city official thing will conveniently fade into the background in ways that would never happen realistically, meaning that the topic probably shouldn't have been introduced in the first place (but that would have pissed me off because it would have made After the Fall irrelevant) or
2) We're so bogged down in trying to deal with the realistic ramifications of the Hell aftermath, that it interferes with Angel having new adventures....
It feels like this whole thing (very much like the Slayers going public and Harmony having a Reality Show thing in Buffy S8) is going to be a damned if they do, damned if they don't thing. I'm worried about developments being engaging if we're so worried about trying to deal with "what would happen in the real world" that we can't focus on the fact that the Buffyverse is horror/fantasy - stress fantasy. At the same time, if we ignore the realistic ramifications, it'll seem like bad plotting. Hmmmm....
Scene 14: The two council members complain to Angel and Kate that the amount of magic involved in undoing the trip to Hell has left an unspecified 'mess' that they want Angel to clean up. He walks out on them.
They whine about the paperwork they were hoping to avoid and teleport out.
Scene 15: As the days pass, Angel and Kate find that he's too well known. A client reporting a monster turns out to be a novelist that want to offer Angel a "monster opportunity" to tell his story. Another potential client turns out to be a woman looking for Angel to appear in shirtless photos for her. Gangs of starstruck women chase him on the street and he and Kate get set up... again... in a deliver Angel to this monster for a pay off gig.
None of these, obviously, are what Angel Investigations was supposed to be doing. And, with all of these faux-cases eating up their time and effort, they're not actually helping anyone.
Scene 16: At yet another fake problem (a guy wants to fight them while wearing a monster outfit, while his cohort gets it on video), Kate complains she's screening, but there are so many people demanding help, it's hard to get the crackpots weeded out. Angel agrees it would be nearly impossible, and with people also following him around, he decides that the agency idea just isn't going to work.
Kate objects, mentioning that Connor talked to her and might want to help them out....
They're interrupted by a girl, out of breath, rushing up to them.
Commentary: And also, note Kate's look on her face and her dialog when Angel mentions closing the agency. Is she striking anyone else as almost desperate for this gig. One wonders if she's been as aimless and directionless as he is now feeling with going back to an AI-type set up not working.
Scene 17: Desperate woman claims that someone 'not normal' is chasing after her, but Angel doesn't believe it for a second. He blows her off.
Kate, however, is suddenly confronted with this weird guy and calls to Angel that desperate woman may have actually been telling the truth.
Scene 18: Kate wrestles with guy, but finds him really strong. She calls for help from Angel, but he still believes that this is just some domestic dispute sort of thing. In the meanwhile, Kate successfully manages to wrestle the guy to the ground, when the police arrive.
They tell her that they'll take over and when Kate questions Angel, he tells her to let them handle it. At the same time, a very large cat-shaped figure watches from the trees.
Scene 19: Kate objects that there was something supernatural about the guy's strength, but Angel puts it down to drugs. He accuses her of playing up the 'battle' because she doesn't want him to close the new AI, but he's worrying that the constant attempts by assassins to get their bounty is putting her in unnecessary danger.
Scene 20: Back in the office, Connor has arrived to offer his help on a part time basis. The discussion is interrupted however by the return of the magical teleporter couple. They tell Angel that since their appealing to his sense of obligation hasn't worked, they've been able to work out a deal whereby he'll be paid as a government contractor. At first Angel still refuses, but then they mention the man that they just got done handling as being affected by the unintended magic, like they were talking about on their earlier visit.
We see the cat-shaped figure again, this time watching from an air vent....
Scene 21: Kate has to tell the magicians that Angel has already decided to close the agency because they can't do their work. The crowd out front is getting in their way (they've been entering and exiting via one of those ubiquitous tunnels) and they follow them around on cases.
The city bureaucrats agree to have the police clear the entrance to the HQ and keep them cleared. Kate also demands that a special ordinance be implemented by the city that would make it illegal for citizens to interfere with Angel or his work.
Commentary: I don't see how exactly this would be enforceable, but okay.... I also would like to know how Kate and Angel wouldn't have already taken precautions against all of these people popping up in their not-at-all-secret HQ. Wouldn't one of their first calls be to Lorne to ask after the two strange mystic women or the 'Silver Sorceress' to cast anti-entry spells on the place. Angel knows that he's hunted and he's already been dropped in on by these teleporting councilmembers and with his vast experience with magic and/or magical beings, it just doesn't make any sense that they're still completely unprotected in their base of operations from casual intruders!
Scene 22: The two councilmembers are insistent and Angel finally agrees, leaving it to Kate to work out the particulars. The basic premise is that the magic involved in the time-looping, dimension-hopping, W & H vanishing events of 'After the Fall' is having unexpected consequences for certain people in the city. They want Angel's team to help them locate these wild people, take them into custody, and deliver them to a hospital in the area for treatment.
Scene 23: After Angel agrees and leaves it to Kate, he turns in for the day to sleep. Under the bed, we see cat eyes.
The (Panther? Black Jaguar?) creeps out after he's gone to bed and suddenly there is a naked woman standing over him. But, she has the yellow eyes like the big cat. She raises a stake....
The Good: I like the artwork for the most part, except for the odd panel.
I like Kate staying in the book as a regular character (with the caveat in commentary re: her characterization).
I like the continuing ramifications for Angel regarding everyone remembering 'After the Fall' (with the caveat in commentary).
The Bad: I wouldn't say anything was particularly bad.
Other Thoughts: There are minor problems with the issue's story. For one, the illogic of Angel not at least looking for some anti-magical protection is ridiculous. For another, there are the problems inherent in Kate being nothing like what we're used to seeing of the character from the tv series. There is also the fact that nothing compelling happens in the issue. It's not badly written, but nothing really jumps out and grabs you either.
The Score: This seems like an average issue setting up storylines for the next several issues: Who are these councilmen with the magic? What is happening to some of the people of L.A.? Can Angel perform his mission, being such a public figure now? Will Spike, Illyria and Gunn get involved at all - or be written out of the title? How will Connor handle his situation with Gwen? Who is the cat-woman and who is she working for?
This is completely a set up issue though, so we get zero answers and the pace of the issue is... leisurely:
3.0 out of 5