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11 December 2010 @ 04:17 am
Angel review, Issue 21  





Angel Season 6

Issue 21



Written by: Kelley Armstrong
Art by: Stefano Martino
Colored by: Brian Miller/Hi-Fi
Lettered by: Neil Uyetake
Edited by: Mariah Huehner, Chris Ryall

Cover B by: Nick Runge


Page 01: Angel, Kate and Connor are in an apartment building. They're there because they need to take two more of the were-animals into custody. Angel asks about Gwen, who hasn't been shown up as expected.

Gwen wasn't a part of this raid because she's currently in an abandoned tenement with the captured Dez. She wants to force some answers about what is going on with the were-woman and her fellow animal-people. The only one who currently knows about this plan is Kate.

Angel seems unusually curt. As Kate is escorting her prisoner, Connor's breaks free and rushes her....


Page 02: Sometime later, Kate - scratched up - finds Gwen back at the abandoned tenement still waiting for Dez to become human so she can question her. She also has a huge scratch where Dez apparently got rowdy with her. Kate complains that they were supposed to question Dez together, but Gwen didn't want to wait around for her.


Commentary: I don't like this. Why have the were-creature escape from Connor (Of course, she breaks away from him - does anyone remember he has superstrength, too?) and have her launch herself toward Kate, if we're not even going to see any kind of fight... what was the point of that panel, at all?


Gwen is short-tempered with Kate and insists that she can handle their plans for Dez. Kate wonders what happened to herself since their return from Hell. During 'After the Fall', she was so decisive and strong, but since returning to the normal-world, she's allowed herself to let Angel and now Gwen give her orders.


Page 03: Angel talks to James again about the Potentates and their mission on Earth. James claims to know nothing, stating that he was already assigned to this world prior to W & H's big 'suck L.A. to Hell' deal. He wasn't made aware of their mission, but knows his own - to find and save them.

Angel doesn't trust what James is telling him, but James seems unconcerned with his doubt. Their confrontation is interrupted when James tells him he hears someone in need of assistance.


Page 04: Angel is suspicious of James' convenient interruption of their inconvenient (for him) conversation, but he follows him. They find attacking demons turning on a balancing demon. The balancers are peaceful, so despite James' objections that demon on demon violence isn't any of the Warrior Angel's business, Angel decides to help out. James goes ahead and follows his lead, complaining about his reputation.



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Page 05: After James and Angel engage the attackers to save the balancing demon, the attacking demons run off, unexpectedly.


Page 06: The balancing demon asks James to kill him quickly. James points out that if he wanted him dead, he would have let his attackers continue. The demon accuses the angel of wanting to add a notch to his halo, and in an effort to deny him this, grabs James' sword blade and jerks it through his own chest. At the same time his own energy powers destroy his body... right after he conveniently tells Angel all about the warrior angel's heretofore unknown mission. And, it's a non-specific, generic "hunting season open on demons".


Commentary: Oh, c'mon on! I hope Angel is going to be highly suspicious of this load of crap. How convenient that an attack occurs as Angel is pushing James to answer his questions, then the victim demon manages to answer those questions before offing himself for no other reason than to "deny James his prize". I don't believe James is an angel at all... but if he is, then he's still up to something that smells... rebellion, maybe?

This was just too neat and tidy to be believed.



Page 07: The following day, Connor and Kate check out an abandoned jail to refurbish a bit for all of the extra were-animals they're catching. Kate is distracted. Connor sits down with her on a park bench a bit later to try to draw her out over what has her seeming down.

As Connor has a cup of coffee, Kate checks out the local paper and sees that the man-gorilla that Dez had 'transformed' has been 'returned' to the zoo.


Commentary: Interesting. Not 'turned over' to the zoo, but 'returned'....


Page 08: In a really sudden jump-cut, we're with Kate back at the abandoned tenement. Kate finds Gwen missing and when she checks on Dez, she finds the woman back in human form. She tries to apologize, but Dez jumps up through the open trap door, and tackles her to the ground....


Commentary: Negative continuity points! Dez is supposed to be in the basement of said tenement, but suddenly, she's attacking Kate outside! Add this to the very sudden "Hey, what happened to Connor!?" between pages and I'd say that the editors weren't being very conscientious with this issue.


Page 09: When Dez stops attacking her for a second, Kate tells her that she knows that she didn't turn a man into a gorilla earlier. She tells him that she was turning him BACK into one... reversing a spell that had been in effect. Kate wonders why she didn't just tell them what was going on.

Dez tells her that she cleans up her own messes, and tries to make a run for it. She's still having some problems retaining her human form, and doesn't get far with one human leg and one jaguar leg. Kate is able to retrieve a gun that was knocked out of her hand, and demands that Dez share what the story is with both the were-animals and why she is constantly shifting between forms, without apparently meaning to.


Page 10: Elsewhere, James and Angel are in a church. Angel is trying to get James to call on the Powers to find out why the rest of the angels were never called home.

They're interrupted by the arrival of ghost-Cordelia.


Page 11: Cordelia Chase tells Angel that he needs to help James. She informs him that the Powers want Angel to locate the rest of the Potentates and free them from whomever is holding them, so they can get on with their mission. That mission, she informs him, is to perform some After the Fall cleanup of the mortal plain. She tells him that the Powers have never been able to send an angel or two to Earth before, but since W & H's big screw up, they've gotten a whole squadron there. There has never been a better time or a better chance to clean out the demonic infestation of Earth.


Page 12: Angel informs Cordy that he's gotten some rumors that at least some Potentates are operating freely, and are taking out the wrong demons. She admits that some of the Good Powers have a difficult time with the concept of non-evil demons. She suggests they have some 'cowboys' taking their orders a bit far.

Angel tells her he'll check into it for her. She tells him now that they have that out of the way, they can just talk, but she then gets whisked off again by the Powers.

When Angel returns to James, the angel has suddenly decided to contact the Powers, after all, but Angel tells him to forget about it, that they have some captive angels to break out.


Commentary: As much as I hate the idea that Cordy wasn't Cordelia, James' behavior is still too damned convenient. If he isn't running a scam, and faking Cordy's arrival and convenient message, I'm going to be pissed at the poor plotting. I think, though, that Angel is faking his sudden cooperation, judging by panel 5 on the page... and it looks like he's not happy at all to have an image of Chase used to try to fool him.


Page 13: Back with Kate and Dez, the were-jaguar tells Kate about her sister. She also insists that she's a person who happens to be able to shift into a big cat, because she doesn't remember her life before. She's afraid that if she gets trapped as her former self though, she'll forget what she wanted to do and her sister will remain lost.

She points out another were-human picking through trash... a rat formerly... as an example of the other sort of were-animals. These are the ones she's been helping with her rituals to de-spell them. They don't know how to be people and keep acting like their former selves... they're confused and scared and angry at this sudden shift in reality and need to be returned to their natural state.



She points out that sometimes they're REALLY angry, as the were-rat leaps out of the dumpster and attacks them... and she isn't alone, either.


Page 14: As Kate holds them off, Dez tries to cast the 'revert' spell... which is described as a ritual, but isn't. She manages to change the attackers back into rats, but this doesn't stop them from nearly being swarmed... they retreat up a fire escape ladder as the rats return to the shadows.


Commentary: Well. That was certainly an anti-climactic ending to this particular plot. And, why did Dez go through this involved ritual in the basement of the tenement for gorilla-man, if she could just wave her hand and return him to animal?! This is the sort of lazy plotting that drives me crazy. Just because you can short hand time passing between panels doesn't mean you should short change story construction or internal consistency. There is going to be negative points for this sort of crap, I can tell you.


Page 15: So, Kate and Dez return to the jail to find Connor there. Let's just assume he's been really, really busy because the place is filled to the rafters with were-animals who need to be changed back to their purely animal states.


Commentary: Did we learn why all of these different animals have been transformed? I remember Dez, Penelope's and their fellow jungle cats' back story, but I don't recall hearing about the rest of the city animals being give human form or why/how it happened. Perhaps I just don't remember, because the entire arc is being so lazily handled and now I'm pissy and bored with the crap storytelling. Or, perhaps that is a plot point that will be ignored, or explained in one panel somewhere... I've stopped caring.


Page 16: One of the transformed that is changed back to normal is a dog. Connor considers keeping it, but it start barking and snarling viciously at him. So, Kate... my god... tells him to LET IT LOOSE!!

Yes. In fact, they apparently just let all of the animals loose outdoors with big smiles. W.T.F.?

After this levity of letting a wild dog loose to run the streets... along with all of the cats, apparently, Gwen comes calling. She's pissed at having returned to the cellar to find Dez missing and now finding her having a good ole time with Kate and Connor.

She confronts Kate, her electropowers sending sparks from her hand as Kate explains they solved the mystery, but she didn't have Gwen's cell number to tell her. Kate tells her that they've fixed the animals that were transformed and have set them all free... to run the streets of L.A., mind you, and this is presented with a straight face as a good thing, including the snarling, large dog.

Gwen complains that Dez was her prisoner and she should have been given the 'right' to get the answers from her. Kate complains that Gwen never cared about Dez being innocent of what they thought her guilty of (changing people into animals), or that the animals have been freed (to the streets of L.A.), but just that she didn't get the chance to try to impress Connor by being the one to solve the mystery.



Connor tells Kate that is because Gwen hasn't changed since her time in Hell. She's still only interested in one person... herself. He tells her to show herself out.


Commentary: *SIGH*. Really? It's acceptable to release dozens of animals to run off, not even knowing if they were strays or pets... not worrying about their welfare once they're left to scrounge around for garbage, not caring that at least the dog seems aggressive and dangerous to anyone approaching it... really?! I'm am flabbergasted and appalled by the lack of any sort of effort in this arc's conclusion. I am just... I'm speechless. FAIL.


Page 17: Angel and James return briefly to HQ, but when they find no one else there, Angel decides not to call anyone. He doesn't want to interrupt if they're "on the job". But, he and James needs to find at least one angel who hasn't been captured yet to find out what exactly happened following W & H releasing L.A. and reversing time.


Commentary: So, call them and find out, dumbass. If they're already busy, then tell them to continue what they're doing... if they're just watching TV ask them to join you in the search for the other angels. Oh, my god... this issue has done actively pissed me off. I hate you Issue 21.


They find a few of the still free angels in a gym working out. Really.


Page 18: Angel tries to engage the angels in conversation about their missing brothers-in-arms, but they don't take kindly to his demonic nature. Angel tries to make a deal - he'll fight one of them and if he wins, they'll answer his questions. The angel replies that if he wins, they'll let him live....


Page 19: Angel gets into hand-to-hand with the angel, and though he wins, they never agreed to his deal, so they still refuse to talk to him. Instead they gather their gear and head out on another demon-killing expedition. James tells Angel that if they want to gain their cooperation, they'll have to impress them by showing they can "give as good as we get"....


Commentary: Yeah, you're right. That makes no sense, since Angel actually won his fight... that should prove right there that he "gives as good as he gets". Was this just a 'we needs to string this along so just wing it' issue?! Because, this is really looking like it was a last minute rush job to make deadline, or somebody had no clue where to take the story and didn't have the time or energy to put into reviewing the plot and tweaking the story. I hate you Issue 21.


Page 20: Angel and James don't follow the angels to their next battle so they can impress them with their mad fighting skills, which you'd think would make the most sense, except for actually beating the angels' asses.

So, instead Angel goes to the makeshift jail to find that Kate, et. al. have taken care of the animals-into-people issue. Kate tells him that is what employees are for, to take care of problems while he's dealing with bigger issues.


Commentary: My favorite line in this issue. But I'm so angry at this lazy issue and bad writing that I can give only the faintest of praise. And it is immediately undone, because this issue is still working on actively angering me.


James recognizes Dez as a Mayan Jaguar Warrior, even though she's in her animal form again. He wonders why someone would be creating these warriors so far out of date (according to Dez' flashback, she wasn't just created, but I can understand James not knowing that). Angel asks for Gwen, again, and I'm questioning why. What makes Gwen so valuable where Kate isn't?

He apparently wants her as their 'official librarian' ... but I'm pretty sure that Angel knows how to crack a book.


Commentary: But, it gets more nonsensical, so never-effing-mind.


So, Connor and Kate tell him that they've basically kicked Gwen out of the club and are ergo out one librarian. Except that Gwen still hasn't left, because I guess she's just stubborn or likes the abuse and scorn or something.


Page 21: When Dez sees Gwen standing in the doorway, she (off panel) manages to change back into a person, and get fully dressed, and grab Gwen by the wrist even though her hand is buzzing with electricity without getting zapped, so that she can throw her into a wall with enough force to tear through the bricks in revenge for Gwen's actions against her.

Gwen tries to apologize, but Dez tells her to save it. She leaves her sitting on the floor, completely unscathed by her being thrown through a brick wall. Dez asks Angel what he needs.

He tells her that he's looking for some big, demon trouble.

Dez tells him he doesn't need a librarian for that, as she's a walking encyclopedia of trouble.


Commentary: ARRRGGGGHHHGHGGHGH.

When has Angel required library books to search out general demon trouble? Why would library books happen to have a detailed location of current demon haunts? Why would Dez have an "encyclopedic knowledge" of demon hot spots, when her mission had nothing to do with hunting demons and everything to do with hunting animals turned into people and trying to find her missing sister? Why do the writers hate Gwen enough to make sure everyone treats her like garbage for the After the Fall betrayal, while also making sure she stays put with Team Angel, continues trying to impress Connor - who has nothing but disdain for her, and continually sees to it that she gets her ass handed to her despite the fact she can electrify her whole body at will? And, why would Gwen be needed to find out where the big demon trouble is taking place that would let her find the information any better than the experienced Angel? How's about Kate's already existing detective skills? But, it's Gwen the thief that he "needs"? Except, he doesn't because Dez has... you know what... I'm moving on.

I hate you Issue 21 - be over!


Page 22: Team Angel and James arrange an assault on a minor Demon Lord in charge of a group of vampires. Dez tries to plan a "pick them off one by one" plan, but Angel leads the others headlong into a fray, leaving her standing behind with her mouth hanging open.


Page 23: Together, they're able to defeat the Lord and his vampire gang.



Commentary: And, somehow, Dez' bite is able to dust a vampire. Also, five people dusting nine vampires and a minor demon is supposed to impress the Warrior Angels into giving Angel some answers, somehow. Even though one of the Team Angel members is Angel himself and another is Connor - both of whom have reputations proceeding them, and one of them being another warrior angel, who would probably be expected to be able to wipe out a vampire nest and tragically minor demon (we don't even see him put up a fight) all by himself, if he was actually an Angel of the Lord. And, this is somehow a better plan than following the Warrior Angels in the first place, and showing them your fighting skills in person to impress them.

Now, I am actually bitterly laughing to myself at the incompetence of the storytelling in this issue. Please stress word 'bitterly'.



Page 24: Angel and James return to the gym where the Warrior Angels were hanging out, where Angel hopes that they'll still be, even though he saw them leave because they didn't want to deal with him earlier. In a bag is minor demon head, which should completely convince them to cooperate.

A pair of gym regulars reports that the angels were there (so that teaches me), but were taken away by what appeared to be FBI agents. Their description of the ones who took the angels into custody (who apparently cooperated with them fully, for reasons unknown) match the bubbly city councilmen who are irritatingly cheerful.

James reports to Angel that they're actually "Guardians of the Divine Balance Between the Celestial and Demon Worlds". He tells Angel they have a problem.


Commentary: And, can I just ask if there are these Guardians of the Divine Balance... blah, blah, blah... then what does that say for Cordelia's claim that the PTB are trying to clear out the demons with the angels? Were they just going to wipe out a limited number to restore some half assed balance, or are the Guardians in opposition to the PTB? Sorry, I don't get it.



The Good: The cover is nice.

The first 13 pages are decent storytelling, moving the mysteries of both Dez and James forward and starting to resolve one of them.

I didn't hate the artwork.


The Bad: From page 14 everything collapses. The story, the continuity, the plot mechanics... all of it is brainless and stupid and infuriatingly ill-written.

The were-animals plot was anti-climactic and one gets the sense that the creative team were just bored with it and wanted it gone.

You know, just read the commentary... I can't rehash everything that is wrong with this issue.


Other Thoughts: I hate you issue, I hate you.


The Score: I don't even know. 1.5 stars out of 5 ... I'm pretty sure I felt brain cells dying while trying to read through the severe plot holes. And, this issue was 4-effing-dollars?!

EAT ME.