Angel, Issue 24
Story by: Juliet Landau, Script by: Juliet Landau & Brian Lynch, Art by: Franco Urru
Color by: Fabio Mantovani & Paolo Maddalini, Lettered by: Robbie Robbins, Edited by: Chris Ryall
Cover C: Nick Runge
Commentary: First, this cover is beautiful. I really love the skull-face in the candle smoke hovering behind Drusilla. The use of shadows is also wonderful.
Page 01: We start just before Angel and company's defeat of the Black Thorn and their internment, along with L.A., to W & H Hell.
There are two doctors who are discussing a patient. One complains that the patient in question should be put down and be done with it, which shocks the other.
Page 02: The two doctors have been summoned to a regularly occurring review for one of their more colorful patients... the very one being discussed in the hallway. Our doubting doctor and our review board head share glares. The others in the review get us quickly caught up. The patient is suffering severe delusions which are growing in detail. She believes herself to be a vampire around 150 years old. She's overly sexualized and doesn't understand the line between sex and violence. She's prone to violent outbursts and remains unpredictable.
Page 03: Doubting Doctor reports that she doesn't respond to their meds, no matter what dosage they put her on. Board Head expresses relief that she at least isn't self-mutilating.
We find out that the police had found her covered in wounds, which due to her subsequent behavior, he believes could have been done by herself.
Page 04: The police reports also state that she was 'eerily calm', despite being covered in knife or sword wounds. She had a chest puncture that was rather serious.
The doctor who came in with Doubting Doctor suggests that Board Head take on this case because of his past successes with sort of psychosis.
Page 05: As the meeting breaks up, Board Head orders the patient removed from 'C' ward. He studies her file thoughtfully, expressing special interest in the 'vampire' delusion.
Commentary: I'm just going to express here how much I like the coloring scheme by Fabio and Paolo. The medical personnel panels have this bluish tint which makes the whole thing feel very clinical and detached. The only real color throughout the issue is the blue of Dru's eyes, her clothing and the blood. It was a great choice that really works in this setting.
Page 06: Board Head lets himself into an electronically locked room. We see inside that it is a padded room. A patient is huddled on the floor in a straitjacket. Everything is in heavy shadow.
Page 07: The patient is, of course, Drusilla. She's in a horrible state with smeared mascara and semi-catatonic when the doctor comes in.
Page 08: The Board Head doctor finally gets Dru's attention. He tells her he wants to move her somewhere more comfortable and to allow her to clean up. He warns her though that she has to agree not to get aggressive. She does so.
Page 09: Uh-huh. That lasts about the 20 minutes it takes her to get in a hot shower. When she leaves the shower room in a pair of scrubs provided, there are two women lying on the bathroom floor and Dru is licking her fingers clean.
Page 10: Outside of the shower room, two security guards wait for Dru. When she comes out, one of these comments on how great she looks now that she's cleaned herself up. The other, female guard, suspects something because she lags behind her partner in order to check out the shower room once they've walked off down the hallway.
She's shocked to find the two women lying dead on the floor.
Page 11: She doesn't call out an alarm, however. Instead, she gets on her cellphone. Now, we don't know exactly who she's speaking to or why, but she orders in a clean up team. She also tells whoever is on the other end that Dru has been moved from the padded room, so they might want to keep the team on stand by. She has the decency to look a bit shaky about all of this, even though she's obviously in the pay of someone nefarious (W & H? We don't find out for sure, but it could well be.) who is interested in Dru's status.
In the meantime, Dru is telling her new doctor about seeing a vision of Darla's suicide. She also shares that she hasn't seen Spike since he chose the cheerleader over her, but she wonders if his chip wasn't at fault for his making that choice.
Page 12: The doctor suggests that they end their first one-on-one session by going out in the sunlight (the idea being to confront the vampire delusion). Instead, Dru dances down the table toward him, filling us with dread for him.
Page 13: She hops in his lap. She makes a definite sexual pass at him, getting her mouth very close to his neck. We think he's about to be the next victim, but she just whispers in his ear seductively instead.
He tries to explain that she's acting inappropiately, but she tells him that is what makes it all so fun.
Commentary: Notice these panels. This is what I was pointing out earlier - the Board Head Doctor remains in this detached, bluish-grey light, while Drusilla's clothing, lips, hair and her intense eyes are all in vibrant color. I really enjoy looking at this issue. I also like the way Dru is being handled here - we're just not sure whether she's going to vamp out or not from one panel to the next, capturing that odd mixture of sweetly dangerous psychopathy that Juliet gave the character on the show. I'm so very pleased that Ms. Landau was involved in Dru's story. It's obvious that Juliet has a lot of affection for this character, even after so many years, and it comes through in her story.
Page 14: The doctor, now broken out in a sweat, tells Drusilla he'd like to give her a gift. There is a momentary pause, as we wait to see what she'll do with this information. It remains unclear here whether the doctor buys her being a vampire, or if he just realizes how dangerously violent and unpredictable she is because of their reports on her.
Page 15: Also unclear is whether Dru was working up to an attack on him. If so, it is aborted by the doctor offering her a present. It's a notebook for her to draw her thoughts for him.
Leaving the conference room, he tells the guards they can escort her to her room. It is the same guards that waited outside the shower room for her - the woman of which is shooting suspicious glares at her.
But Dru isn't interested in her. She spots Doubting Doctor at the elevators and asks Board Head Doctor if she could be her escort.
Page 16: Dru's doctor instructs the other, to her obvious displeasure, to escort Dru to her room. Her doctor expresses relief that Dru is reaching out toward someone and they must encourage this.
In the meantime, as Dru and Doubting Doctor leave the eyeline of the others, Dru begins dancing down the hallway. Doubting Doctor glares at her in irritation.
Commentary: I will say that these few panels don't make a lot of logical sense. Considering Dru's unpredicatably violent reputation is already established to the doctors, I find it unlikely that they'd send her off without security tailing behind. I also find Doubting Doctor's walking ahead of Dru with her back to her to be highly unlikely, since she already finds her to be a lost cause. It's a minor point and doesn't affect the score any, but this could have been blocked out a bit better within the panels.
Page 17: Well, Doubting Doctor is a bit screwed. You see Dru's vampire hearing allowed her from within her padded room to catch Doubting Doctor's earlier comments about her. Doubting Doctor wonders how she knew what she'd said about her.
Dru shows her by going yellow-gold eyed and bumpy faced....
Page 18: We focus on Dru's fingernails. Her golden, ridged eyes. The Doubting Doctor's neck as she tries to rear away from Dru. Dru's swinging arm, trailing arcing blood. And finally the dropped bag of Doubting Doctor as one of her high heels snaps, while she falls backward....
Commentary: I love this page. I also love the very deliberate callback to how Dru killed Kendra by slicing her trachea with her nails.
Page 19: Doubting Doctor won't be expressing any more opinions about 'putting down' future patients. Dru rumages through her bag to find a dress stuffed in it. Obviously Doctor was going to be making a quick change in a restroom on her way to an appointment. Dru loves 'her new dress' and takes it with her.
Page 20: Dru changes into her new dress... but unfortunately for the rest of the staff, they've come upon her during rounds.
She goes into full on murder-spree....
Scene 21: Which continues with various pens snatched from pockets and inserted into eyes and throats....
Commentary: This is another really nice page, continuing the coloring scheme from throughout the preceeding pages. But it also really allows Dru to open up physically. We never saw Juliet get into the physical battles like with Angel, Spike, Buffy or Faith. Here, in the comics pages, they can really show off her fighting prowess that has allowed her to survive so long away from her paramour. I especially like the ballet-like high back kick that knocks a doctor off of his feet and the pair of pens to an eye of another doctor....
Page 22: Guess who else was in that hallway? Our corrupted female guard.
She's currently in a closet, making a desperate phone call to her mystery employer. Alas for her, Dru hears her and comes calling.
Our guard tries to tell her that what she's doing is fine, that "they're completely fine with it", but this news isn't of any interest to Drusilla. The guard tries a bit of pleading, but this has about as good a chance of stopping what is coming.
We see the door from in the hallway and hear a loud snap. When Dru exits, female guard tumbles to the floor with a broken neck. Drusilla sings to herself, "Run and catch, the Lamb is caught in the blackberry patch...."
She sways off down the hallway and into the next issue....
The Good: Coloring and general artwork are excellent.
Drusilla's handling in the story from her personality to her violence is also excellently written.
That cover is wonderful.
The Bad: I didn't find anything poorly done.
Other Thoughts: I'll admit that the story was a bit thin. Basically Dru is freed and goes on a killing spree. Some of this really could have been moved to the second issue in order to spend more time in Dru's head, especially in sessions where she rambles about how she sees things that have happened to her with Spike, Angel and Buffy. I would have loved to see some of the major events in flashback from Drusilla's perspective and saved the wild killing spree for the next issue.
The Score: I really liked this issue a lot... I might even love it a little: 4.25 out of 5....