Written by: Kelley Armstrong
Pencils by: Dave Ross
Inks by: Dave Ross & George Freeman
Coloring by: Charlie Kirchoff (pgs. 1-8, 12-14) & Brian Miller (pgs. 9-11, 15-24)
Lettered by: Robbie Robbins
Edited by: Mariah Huehner & Chris Ryall
Cover A by: Gabriel Rodriguez
Page 01: In the last infuriating issue reviewed here, Angel and James (who has been acting suspicious, to me) found that the Potentates they've been trying to talk to had been seized by the supposed FBI.
James believes that story is BS, and suggests that the angels were taken into custody by something called the Elohim. This disturbs him greatly. Angel has been left a way to contact them and does so now. The Elohim come almost instantly, and it turns out that they are the annoyingly perky Councilman and Councilwoman who had recruited Angel himself for a short while to help clean up L.A.
They now tell him that they're actually cosmic referees of sorts. They make sure that evil and good play fair (because when you think W & H, you think "always played fair"... like pulling L.A. into Hell). The Elohim claim they had to put the angels into a 'penalty box' for cheating, though they don't specify here exactly what they've done to draw punishment onto them.
Page 02: Angel tries to understand how the angels wiping out evil in L.A. would violate the rules. The Elohim, however, aren't concerned with the goals of the angels, so much as their methods. Angel asks what the problem is, but the Elohim tell him that he doesn't believe a word they're saying, so it doesn't matter. Instead, they suggest that Angel pretend to free two of the Potentates and experience for himself what they're planning to do.
After they vanish, Angel thinks to himself that they're lying. He doesn't know the end game, but he refuses to open the door and release the two angels. He doesn't have to, because James the Friendly Angel is there to do it for him.
Commentary: I'm glad to see that Angel is remaining highly suspicious of this entire set up. That was a concern I had last issue, that Angel may have been buying into James' story without any concrete proof. Especially worrisome was Cordelia Chase's appearance to confirm James' assertions and then be conveniently summoned away before she and Angel could really talk.
Page 03: The two Potentates rush Angel, attacking him with their swords until James/Jamaerah assumes his angel form and intervenes. He tries to talk to his fellow angels, but they're dismissive of him and walk away.
Page 04: Angel confronts the two angels, telling them that James has a mission, part of which is to assist them. He tells them that if they don't like the second part of their plan, then Angel will undo the first part, placing them back in confinement. The angels consider this, and since they're short handed agree as long as they're not working with any other demons.
Page 05: Angel summons Kate, Connor and Dez, but the Potentates take exception to Dez because she is an "abomination against nature". Dez willingly concedes she has her own mission anyway to take care of (which involves more animal people to restore). She also whispers to Connor that she's having trouble maintaining her human shape, also. He chooses to accompany her, rather than work with the angels' bad attitudes.
Angel complains that every time he thinks he's getting closer to Connor, he ends up doing something that pushes him away. Kate explains that is called fatherhood.
Page 06: While Angel was talking with Connor about Dez, the Potentates took off. Kate, he and James are able to track them back down to a tenement building.
Page 07: Within, they expect to find a Demon Lord that the Potentates are targeting. Neither Angel nor James detects any demons though among the punks in residence.
The angels don't appear to be bothered by the apparent lack of demon activity.
Page 08: The angels launch their assault, not only targeting demons apparently, but also the humans they deem worthy of extermination.
Page 09: Angel tries to tell them that their mandate is to fight the demons left over from "After the Fall", but they correct him. Their mission is to "clean up". This is apparently why the Elohim had them under lock and key, because they've taken to wiping out everyone they deem "evil".
Page 10: The whole thing is over in minutes, leaving Kate and Angel appalled.
Page 11: Angel tells James to get his bosses on the line, and to tell them he expects answers this time.
Page 12: Elsewhere, Connor and Dez are stalking Dez' fellow shape-shifted animals. Connor tries to make small talk, which Dez interprets (correctly, it appears) as his attempts to interest her in him. She points out she is too old for him.
She also tells him that she needs to change her form, as she can't maintain her human one any longer. Connor tells the jaguar that he doesn't see any of their targets, but Dez growls up at a tree nearby. In it are three transformed animal-men.
Commentary: Once again, Connor's upbringing in a Hell-dimension failed to hone any instincts for danger at all.
Page 13: Dez and he fight the were-people and handily beat them into submission. However, a complication arises when the two angel that just slaughtered the gang arrive to deal with the were-people themselves.
Page 14: Meanwhile, Angel and his companions have been taken by James to a different dimensional space to speak with the angel's boss. He informs the apparent older woman he wanted to speak with Cordelia. She doesn't care. She decides that he needs to see why the humans that were targeted were killed.
Page 15: They're transported again, this time to an L.A. under a bright daylight sun. Angel doesn't combust. As everyone wonders what they're supposed to be looking at they spot a bank robbery in progress.
Page 16: Angel and Kate try to stop the robbery, but they pass through the robbers before James helpfully exposits that they can't stop anything from happening wherever they are. Angel wonders if he's being shown this just to piss him off as the robbers react to a teller hitting the panic button by starting to blast everyone in the bank.
One of the thieves is taken down by bank security with a shot to the chest.
Page 17: When the police arrive, they remove the mask from the robber only for Angel and Kate to see that it is one of the boy from the tenement that the angels had killed. He's older, suggesting that they've time travelled.
The angel-boss then brings them back, explaining that what they've seen is a tragedy averted by their actions. She further explains that though their actions seem harsh, there are dozens of victims - not just the bank teller and the customers shot - but their families who have now been spared. She tells Angel that L.A. has been circling the abyss for years, but that now, thanks to W & H's ill-considered overkill tactics, they've a chance to stop the cycle of pain by preemptively stopping these tragedies before they occur.
She asks Angel to step aside and stop interfering with the angels' mission and further informs James that it now falls to him to release the other angels in custody of the Elohim.
Page 18: Kate and Angel are returned to L.A., but James is now missing. Kate objects strongly to allowing the angels' mission to proceed unimpeded. She claims that if she sees them killing, she'll stop it, which seems more an empty threat then something she can actually do. She storms away from Angel, pissed.
Meanwhile, back with Connor, the angels tell Dez that they're there to remove the 'curse' from her and her fellows, returning them to their natural state as nature intended. Connor yells that it isn't their choice what happened to Dez.
Commentary: Continuity! The angels that were freed constantly change their looks. Their hair color, their hair styles, and now one of their genders has completely changed from when they were released by the Elohim. Editing? What's that?
Oh, and for some reason, Dez is back to her human shape and dressed suddenly... again.
Page 19: Dez tells them they shouldn't have messed with a Jaguar Warrior. She tells them that she has a few moves they haven't seen before... and then takes off running away.
Commentary: Okay, that was a cute moment.
The angels go in pursuit, but she loses them by taking to the trees.
Meanwhile, Angel is trying to work things out in his head. He appears to have been mostly sold that everything James and the Elohim said was true. But, he has nagging doubts because of the Powers sudden refusal to let him talk things out with Cordy.
Page 20: Angel wanders near a club, and sees a woman being accosted by a pair of vampires. He chases them off - but he suddenly isn't armed, because he doesn't stake them.
He wonders to himself why everything feels so wrong if the angels really are trying to make L.A. a safe haven from the monsters and the killers.
Page 21: He gets a call from Kate telling him to drop whatever he's doing and to get to Connor's location. His call was cut off, but Kate knows something is going down.
When they arrive, they find our two angels still trying to get to Dez, with Connor standing between them. Before there can be a knockdown, drag out though, James shows up and tells the other angels that they don't need to break Dez' spell because it is fading already on its own. He tells them they have a more important mission and sends them on their way to carry it out.
Page 22: Now the angels haven't left after all. And, (Continuity!) we suddenly have a third, even though the Elohim only freed two (not including James) and also, the angel who switched genders suddenly? She also changed her hair color between pages (more continuity!).
The angels warn Angel to stop interfering with them or else. Angel isn't ready to step aside while they kill people for what they may do. He reminds them of his own battles with Prophecy and his ability to have changed from his past.
Commentary: Yeah... two editors, and no one could be bothered to keep any sort of continuity going. *Sigh* ... but this issue is still better than the epic fail of #21, though the whole angel/James arc is really feeling like it's just treading water, which is annoying (and expensive, assholes). I wish this issue had given us solid answers to what exactly is going on and why everything is so focused on L.A. -- I just don't think this one city can be that important to the Powers, which is something that Angel should have already been questioning himself.
Page 23: Anyway, the angels have had it and go back on the offensive, with James helping them over his fellows.
Page 24: Between pages, the angels appear to have broken off their assault again to leave. The Elohim mention it when they suddenly appear, warning Angel that he hasn't won. They tell Angel that his acting against the angels will have serious repercussions, but don't bother to simply recapture and imprison them again themselves. Again, something which Angel should be questioning, but doesn't.
Angel tells them he wasn't trying to win, but was making a point that he wouldn't stand idly by while people die. The Elohim ask him what his plan of action will be, and he responds that he intends to continue fighting ... not for "good", but for "what's right"....
The Good: The artwork was good from both artists (if sloppily inconsistent) and the cover is gorgeous.
The Connor/Dez team up was interesting.
Angel's being doubtful about James, the Elohim and their apparent connections to the powers that be made me glad.
The Bad: The entire angel storyline feels like its full of filler and being dragged out further than it needs to be.
Internal Continuity was, again, not a priority.
Dez' problems maintaining her shape/shifting from cat to human and back changes from issue to issue and page to page depending on what the plot requires of her. There is no apparent rhyme or reason as to when she must return to cat form and for how long.
The Score: After last issue's stupidity, this one was a breath of fresh air, but it is still overall dull with an unnecessarily drawn out arc. The refusal to keep some sort of consistency in Dez' ability to remain human is distracting. The continuity issues with the angels adding members, changing genders and hair color/style from one page to the next is exactly why editors should be editing... continuity would seem to be something important, at least within the same issue...
2.75 out of 5