Angel: Issue 25
Story by: Juliet Landau, Script by: Juliet Landau & Brian Lynch, Art by: Franco Urru, Color by: Fabio Mantovani,
Color Flats by: Chiara Cinabro/2BStudio, Letters by: Neil Uyetake, Edits by: Chris Ryall
Cover A: Franco Urru & Fabio Montovani
Page 01: An hour later, and Drusilla hasn't stopped with the doctors. The lab techs, security and her fellow patients are slaughtered by her.
Page 02: As Drusilla wanders through the building, surveying her handiwork, she has flashbacks of Angelus' visit to her family. Every tableau she's left behind reflects back on the trauma Angelus visited upon her.
Commentary: We could really have used more of this, too. I love the idea of her leaving the bodies in situations that are similar to how her family was left by Angelus. It remains wordlessly ambiguous, however. We don't know if it is the slaughter that is causing her to remember those days, or if those memories are inspiring her victims' placements. I think if we'd gotten a bit more of her session with the Board Head Doctor with her rambling about her memories/'delusions', these flashbacks would make a bit more sense in the situation.
Page 03: Dru picks up a severed head to talk to, but quickly discards it when it doesn't respond to her.
Commentary: I also think I would have preferred all of this if Dru herself wasn't so free of gore. She would have been even more terrifying if she was casually wandering the halls covered in grue. The fact that she remains spotless is not only ridiculous, considering how free they were with drawing the blood all over, but it seperates her from what she's done and I think it would have been more effective artwise if she were actually immersed in it, instead.
Page 04: Drusilla suddenly grabs her midsection and falls to the floor. She has had a powerful vision and grabs a notebook (I think it is meant to be the gift she received from the doctor and she kept it... uh... tucked in her dress?) and markers. She begins to draw....
Page 05: What she draws are, from her perspective, flashforwards of what is coming in 'After the Fall'. We see Angel lying broken (his falling from a building and then discovering he didn't have his vampire powers), Gunn using his magic firesword to kill Connor, Angel riding his dragon he'll name Cordelia and Spike fighting at Angel's side.
Page 06: She draws the demon armies of Hell, Gunn in vamp!face, Illyria as both humanoid and her true god-form, and finally Spike with his all female Amazon army.
Commentary: Actually, this could have been a one pager, I think. They also didn't need to be so specific - I've mentioned this before, I think - but the IDW team keep returning to the 'After the Fall' arc, like they're not quite sure what to do with the here and now in the comic. It works here as a flashback story to see Drusilla being swept up in that major arc, but these 'premonition-scenes' feel a lot like a repeat of the "hey remember when we did this, wasn't that cool!" that I keep getting a sense of when their current arc with the 'Angels' is broken up by a return to the past arc. It wasn't that great an arc, guys and you drew it out way too long creating a lot of dead space in the middle issues.
Page 07: As Dru completes her drawing of Angel on the dragon's back flying over a burning city, the Board Head Doctor and the Supportive Doctor who was shocked at Doubting Doctor's expression of loathing toward Dru come across her. They appear to be the only survivors in the facility. The doctor warns Drusilla they've called the police and they're on their way, but Dru's orgy of violence has ended with her visions assaulting her.
Page 08: Both doctors assume that she is working through some kind of breakthrough, visualizing her suppressed rage that makes her act out so unpredictably violently. Dru, unusually, seems to be trying to save them. She's tries to tell them to run and is trying to get them to understand what is coming for them.
Page 09: But she suffers another intense vision and collapses again to the floor.
Commentary: I like the idea of Drusilla sparing these two and even trying to save them for no other apparent reason than that they were nice to her. The doctor for giving her a gift and the blonde woman doctor for taking her side when Doubting Doctor was talking trash about her. I'm not sure I completely buy it, but I don't not buy it, either.
Page 10: Lying on the floor, Dru mutters 'Hell' as she frantically draws another scene.
Page 11: Interestingly though, she equates this 'Hell-vision' not with 'After the Fall', but her own treatment following the convent massacre by Angelus and Darla. She's in a bath, neck wound dribbling blood, a pendant clutched tightly in her hand. Angelus snatches this from her and throws it to the fireplace.
Commentary: What I find interesting with this flashback of hers though, is that there seems to be a clarity here about Darla's evil toward her. We've seen Dru and Darla in flashbacks where any antipathy has been Darla's exasperation with Dru's wacky mutterings. In AtS, Dru seems to see Darla as a close sister/mother figure. But in this flashback, Darla is clearly relishing Dru's suffering in the aftermath of the attack on the convent. The look on flashback!Darla's face as remembered by Dru is speaking volumes about how Drusilla actually feels about Darla that we've never had a sense of before.
Page 12: Drusilla draws another perspective of her past... Angelus and Darla reaching for her, Angelus looking dispassionate, but Darla looking gleeful with whatever they're about to do to human!Dru. She also focuses on the convent pendant melting in the fireplace....
Commentary: But, here's my problem with this. Although the 'breakthrough' of Dru seeing Angelus and Darla in the context of her personal Hell, it all seems so randomly placed. It doesn't really have anything to do with the 'After the Fall' visions, as far as I can tell. I wanted to see the pendant solidly linking to what was coming, or back to Spike's loss in Sunnydale as Dru's definition of Hell, perhaps. It feels like this sudden revelation about Darla, interesting as it is to me, doesn't have anything to do with tying Drusilla into the 'After the Fall' arc, so I don't understand what they meant to convey here.
Page 13: As the doctors watch Dru frantically drawing something, she mutters 'Hell' again....
Page 14: Drusilla's latest drawing is of dozens of people, which the doctors interpret as her delusions of persecution... of a giant conspiracy against her, a common phenomena among the violenty schizophrenic.
Blonde woman Doctor tries to tell Dru that what she thinks she is seeing isn't real and begs her to let them help her....
Commentary: This is why I'm finding Dru's flashbacks confusing at this point in the story. I have to assume that she's seeing W & H's conspiracy as equating in her mind to Angelus and Darla conspiring against her when she was human. But it remains confusingly vague as to what exactly is going on in her mind here, or why such the focus on the pendant without any other images of a similar piece of jewelry tying into something that is going to happen in 'After the Fall' or Spike's return (assuming she didn't know yet that he was back). There is a disconnect here between 'After the Fall' intruding on her story and her personal flashbacks that leave me confused as to what the common theme was they wanted to express in the greater story. And the ambiguousness is only going to grow from here, though I can make a guess as to what happens....
Page 15: Anyway, Drusilla proves female doctor wrong, by leaping into the air and changing into vamp!face. As the doctors look at her agape, she reminds them that she had warned them to run....
Behind her, a mass of people - at least one a Chaos demon - closes in on her and the doctors.
Page 16: The doctors take off running, and where you'd expect the story was going to lead to Dru killing them - perhaps regretfully for their not taking her advice - instead she turns on the invaders (which we have to assume is shortly after L.A. has been pulled into W & H Hell). She buys time for the doctors to flee, perhaps at the cost of her own life...!
Commentary: Again, I don't completely buy this development the way it was written, but I don't disbelieve it either and I like the idea of Dru doing something uncharacteristically heroic. I wish there was some sort of explanation though, even if only in her own thoughts. Her visions/flashbacks/behavior here is maddingly incoherent and vague. It also doesn't help that this swell of attacking people look like ordinary humans, so we don't know why they're there or if they are in fact people or demons or superpowered agents of W & H that look human? We just don't have the information we need to put what is happening here in some sort of context. I would have far preferred to see all of Dru's victims in the hospital coming back as zombies, so that we could have taken it at face value that his was a Hell-related thing happening without wondering why and who and what.
Drusilla is overwhelmed by the sheer number of bodies....
Page 17: ... And, unexpectedly awakens, dressed in her old-timey human garb.
Page 18: She finds herself back in merry olde England, in the bright sunshine. She doesn't burn.
Page 19: Dru wonderingly wanders through the sunbaked streets and into a park filled with verdent plant life... she closes her eyes and turns her face up to the sunlight.
Page 20: She returns to the city and wanders to her childhood home. With a large smile, she opens the door and enters....
Page 21: She travels up the stairs to her old room. There she sees Ms. Edith on the shelf. She isn't blindfolded or gagged....
Page 22: Dru picks up Ms. Edith, and holds the dolly close to her, kissing her on the forehead. She looks around her room with a grin.
"I wonder how long this will last?" she asks the empty room....
We end with a quote from C.S. Lewis, "Do I believe in actual Hell. One's own mind is actual enough."
Commentary: So, what does this ending mean? At first, I'd say that Dru was dusted and this is her human soul being given some sort of merciful forgiveness. But, then, why the ending quote? Is Drusilla actually in a Hell after all? Her own self-created Hell, even. Is she about to be doomed to re-live her own torture and turning again?
Or is this a hint that those who were interested in watching her movements (W & H?) have actually placed her in a 'holding cell' ... a little piece of Hell pretending to be a slice of Heaven until they're ready to retrieve her for some as yet unknown purpose (perhaps against Angel or Spike)?
We don't know if Dru is physically here, whereever here is. The ending quote may be a hint that she's actually in her mind, or in a non-physical realm.
It is all so ambiguous, that guessing is all we can do. I think that the ending quote isn't random, but that Dru is in fact still undead, though incapacitated to keep her out of the way for future use, and this is an actual delusion, whereas the doctors through both issues kept insisting that Dru was suffering delusions before, where we knew she was relating facts. If this is so, then the fact that Hell-is-in-one's-own-mind is a further hint that Dru won't be staying in this delusion indefinitely (as she wonders), but that it will be cruelly stripped from her at some future point by agents unrevealed.
Or that is what I'm leaning toward at this minute.
The Good: Again, I'm loving the cover by Urru and Mantovani.
I'm really happy with the artwork.
I liked the shocking turn of Drusilla helping humans escape and her reasons for doing so being so unexplained.
The Bad: I enjoy a certain amount of ambiguity, but the last half of this issue is nothing but. It's too much unclear storytelling for me. I like the weird, unexplained ending, but I don't understand why the Darla/Angelus flashbacks just as 'After the Fall' was intruding on the hospital. I didn't get the connection, but it is necessary for there to be one, or the flashbacks at this point in the story wouldn't make any sense at all. I like to wonder, but I don't like to be completely lost.
I'm hoping that Stormwreath has read this arc and will provide his thoughts on what exactly all this meant, because he's usually really good at picking up on things I've not noted.
The Score: I liked the first several pages and I liked the individual elements with Dru/Angelus/Darla. I enjoyed her interaction with Board Head Doctor and her saving him at the cost of herself, but there is just too much that I can't track.
3.25 out of 5 -- it was a good issue, especially the ambiguous ending following Drusilla's fall, but a disappointment after the really strong first issue of this two issue story.