S6, Issue 38
'Cats in the Cradle: Chapter 3 of Connorland'
Plotted by: Bill Willingham, David Tischman, Mariah Huehner; Written by: David Tischman, Mariah Huehner;
Art by: Elena Casagrande; Coloring by: Ilaria Traversi, Lettering by: Neil Uyetake
Cover by: Jenny Frison
Blurb: Connor's life hangs literally in the balance, and it's time for a major showdown between the Sisterhood and Angel. The only problem is that Angel is down a few soldiers and they're, well, not.
My Blurb: I really wish that they'd set up this conflict between the Sisterhood and Angel much more. It would have been nice if he'd tried to tell Connor that he didn't trust them in asides throughout the preceding issues. Maybe Connor could have been seduced with the idea he was their Savior and there would have been conflict with his father over Angel's distrusting nature. Maybe Angel could have been more insistent and impatient with Laura over finding more about the Sisterhood or any prophecies having to deal with the son of a vampire. What I'm saying is, there was a lot of potential for interpersonal conflicts here that were missed.
Page 01: We open with Angel sitting on top of a building in the 'now'. He's looking... well... broody. Again.
He is remembering how he's never enough to keep Connor safe.
Page 02: We flashback to earlier in the evening. Angel Investigations found Connor in the warehouse. Connor was freed by Illyria, but then the Sisterhood returned from their diversion.
Commentary: Illyria asks Connor if he couldn't break out of the chains that the Jaro Hull had him in. I, sadly, immediately thought "Well, of course he can't escape without being saved!"
I really dislike how Connor is played for the butt monkey so often. It's become so common that I expect it. That's sad.
Page 03: The Jaro Hull inform Angel that Connor belongs to them, and he'll be punished. Angel responds awesomely by pointing out that he's been in the Apocalypse and isn't going to be afraid by anything they could say.
There is the sounds of crashing close by, but the Hull tell Angel that they won't be distracted again. This time though....
Page 04: It isn't another trick, but the arrival of Spike, Laura, The Ball, Kate and cooly, Gunn. Angel complains ('natch) at Spike for being late on the arrival. Spike tells him the lame-thing-with-the-soul;let's-not-speak-o
Spike tells him, "Let's get to work", which Angel complains is supposed to be his line.
Page 05: Angel Investigations do 'get to work' by going on the attack, while Illyria continues snapping the chains with relative ease that had Connor pinned down. Laura and Kate use guns, and Kate points out that the Jaro's knees are vulnerable. Gunn tosses Connor a sword, and he returns, "I owe you".
Humorously, Illyria takes it as Connor talking to her and replies, "I know".
Commentary: There are some really humorous back-and-forth in the dialog with this issue, and I appreciated that. I also like that a dangling plot thread is being wrapped up. We'll talk more about that at the end of the issue.
Page 06 & 07: In a two page spread, the Jaro Hull Sisterhood and Angel Investigations battle each other, with Kate, Illyria, and Mr. Polyphemus all getting some effective-action artwork. It's nice to see Kate's gun not being completely ignored.
Commentary: I also like the Angel block, and the awesome Spike-backward-jabs the Sisterhood warrior's throat. I liked the artwork used in this issue, again.
Page 08: As the battle continues, Spike and Angel end up back to back. Angel offers Spike an ear about the soul thing, since he's had experience with it.
Connor points out in his panel that he'd feel more comfortable with the swordplay if he had pants on....
Commentary: I like the visual of Angel and Spike fighting back to back and not even having to discuss their strategy anymore. But, the dialog is weird for what is going on around them... especially Spike's saying he doesn't want to talk about it, while then going on to explain the "soul-flu" explanation. It was pretty clumsy writing, here.
Page 09: One of the Jaro's blades cuts Connor across his shoulder. This causes Queen Sister of the Hood to exclaim that he must not be cut at this time. Of course, this is a bit too late to bring that up.
As Angel is watching, Connor starts doing the Big Glow again. Something that appears to be affecting the Sisterhood with their own glows.
Page 10: Connor's glow effect acts like a pressure wave, strong enough to knock Illyria off of her feet. Everyone is 'pushed' by the expanding glow effect, but the effects on the Jaro Hull are even more profound -- namely, they disintegrate. Poof.
Page 11: And the Jaro Hull Sisterhood plotline ends. Just like that. Poof.
With the latest big battle done, Spike decides now is the time to take a break from Angel Investigations to deal with his feelings about his recent behavior and the 'soul-issue'.
Commentary: Okay. Three things: A) Wow, that was an abrupt ending for the Jaro Hull. I said that I'd not mark down for plot arcs that are terminated suddenly because IDW needed to do these things before they lost the license. I'm holding to that, but I also have to say that I'm dissatisfied with how they wrapped this one. I wish they'd have left the Sisterhood as a back up team to go against James/Myr and, hopefully, his evil sister. They could have had them die fighting the Big Bad, instead, and I think it would have been a better way to go, rather than have them up to something nefarious.
B) I also hate Spike's choosing to agree with Angel that he has some issues to work out for himself regarding the soul-question. It is way too sudden and out of the blue! And, it's only being done to set up the Spike title (he goes to Las Vegas -- which, yes I did buy, so it's time for this to be added into rotation for review now). It's written exceptionally clumsily.
C) The third thing is a really minor art fail that just bugged me. On Page 10 we can see Connor holding his shoulder wound. On this page, we get a panel where there is blood on his hand, running over his knuckles (panel 3). The problem is that the 'viewpoint' is so close on the hand, and the blood is colored in so heavily, that it looks like Connor's fingers had been cut off!
Page 12: So, Spike wanders out to go off into his limited series... blatantly and bluntly so IDW can have yet another title to sell.
Commentary: I sure do hope that it turns out to be much better than the infuriating waste of time that was Spike: After the Fall.
Page 13: We rejoin Angel in the now. Connor joins him on the roof (now with clothes, so I'm assuming they're now at the Hyperion).
Connor mentions that Illyria has left to chase after Spike and make sure he's okay. Angel figures she might do so.
Commentary: I do like Illyria leaving to travel with Spike, simply because of the relationship we saw between the two in 'After the Fall', which seemed to be dropped without comment for far too long. But, her being written out with one line is again extremely clumsily done to push her off into Spike's limited series.
Connor also tells Angel that they need to talk.
Page 14: What Connor wants to talk about is that he needs to get out from under Angel's shadow and his own origins and the weird Chosen One status. Angel suggests that he's thinking that he's holding him back. Connor tries to deny this, but then admits 'kind of'.
Angel tells him he knows he needs to find a purpose for himself separate from Angel's legacy.
Page 15: Angel sympathizes with Connor for suddenly finding himself with all of these responsibilities he doesn't really understand. He tells him he should go and find his own way, but Connor tells him he doesn't really understand what Connor is getting back.
With a bit of amusement, he hugs his dad.
Commentary: I'll tell ya, I didn't get what Connor wanted either. And, of course he didn't just say what he was after because that would be what real people do.
Page 16: Full page of Connor and Angel hugging.
Commentary: Awwwww. I both love this page and want to barf a little. But I like that Angel's voiceover calls Connor a 'young man', even with emphasis, to show that he's recognizing that Connor isn't the kid he needs to protect, but an adult in his own right.
Page 17: Between pages, Connor has explained to Angel what his plans are. Angel agrees. We still don't get clued in for no real reason, except to stretch the comic to enough pages. It's irritating.
Connor asks if they should tell the others yet, but Angel just wants to stay on the roof for a little longer with his son.
Page 18: We time-skip to the following day. A man in a very-L.A. suit comes into the Hyperion lobby. He's looking for Angel, but Connor tells the stranger that Angel is on a sabbatical. He tells him that he's taken over management of Angel Investigations and can help him.
(So that is what it took us three pages to be told.)
The guy though tells him he'll just leave his business card for Angel for when he returns. As he's walking out, Connor glances at the business card left with him.
It's from Wolfram & Hart!
"Oh... sh@t...," says Connor.
Commentary: Nice ending. They may have butchered the existing plots in their attempts to put them to rest, but at least they ended the issue strongly.
The Good: I like the artwork (which doesn't add to the scoring -- and, what is the cover supposed to be referring to??).
I liked a lot of the interpersonal dialog and asides.
It's nice to see Gunn back and I liked seeing Kate kick a bit of ass.
The Bad: I hated the way Spike and Illyria's exit is so abrupt and outta nowhere.
It also really bugged me that Connor danced around remaining in control of Angel Investigations for no logical purpose. It was so very blatantly just to stretch out the page count.
Other Thoughts: Individual lines were nice throughout this issue, but the arcs and the developments were so clumsily handled. It's hard to see how (or maybe not... too many cooks?) three people were needed to plot this.
I like the thought of Connor taking charge, but I'm not convinced this was the right way to do it. And, the fact we don't get to see the conversation just makes it more awkward... like, did he just tell his dad, "Hey I want your job. Get out or I'll resent you"? How did this work?
The Score: I don't dislike this issue, though I'm not sure why exactly since so many of the plot points are so clumsily handled. Maybe the dialog just makes up for it, or I'm just plain forgiving at this point because I enjoyed IDW's Angel so much more than Dark Horse's BTVS, S8?
Anyway: 3.25 outta 5 stars.
Next up: Eddie Hope vs. Angel Investigations, still.