'The Wolf, The Ram and The Hart'
Writing: David Tischman, Mariah Huehner; Drawing: Elena Casagrande with Assistance By: Valerio Schiti, Coloring: Ilaria Traversi,
Lettering: Neil Uyetake, COVER BY: Jenny Frison
Blurb: The Sisterhood is dust, Gunn is back, and Angel is off on a mysterious mission. Is he hunting James, or something worse?
Page 01: We open with some monks chanting, as monks tend to do. A mysterious, dreads-wearing, brown-suited, bowtied man comes in behind them. He wanders into a room that contains a naked man in a tube of light. The man is a vampire. Dreads tells him that they're preparing for a trip.
Page 02: We join Angel somewhere on the road. I believe this would be his 1967 Plymouth GTX a.k.a. 'The Angel Mobile'.
Commentary: I can thank 'Supernatural' for now having to identify sweet rides. Ever since 'The Impala', I've noticed cars more when they're featured.
He's stopped at a gas station and we're joining his thoughts. He's musing on his love of car fumes over the cool ocean air.
Page 03: As Angel is tooling down the Pacific Coast Highway (I think), his inner monologue about what to do with himself since he left A.I. in Connor's hands is interrupted by a semi truck on his tail and it rushes up on him.
Page 04: Angel is run off of the road and the Angel Mobile goes right into the cliff side, where it blows up real good. Guess I didn't need to know what kinda car he was driving, after all. No way a little body work is fixing that.
Page 05: Back in Los Angeles, Connor and Gunn are getting along a lot better than they had been following Gunn-pire's using a flaming sword on him. Connor has relocated Angel Investigations because the Hyperion was costing a fortune to maintain.
Did I say they were getting along 'a lot' better? That may have been overstating it. But Connor asks Gunn to make it work with him since Angel wanted him to stay.
Commentary: I really like the decision to dump The Hyperion. It always felt like Angel was moving backwards by returning to that place, which was appropriate to 'reset' after everything the team had been through since turning on the Wolfram & Hart hand that fed them. But with Connor taking over, it feels just as appropriate for him to want a new place with no history to begin fresh. I also like the tone of this scene between Connor and Gunn; they're also about starting anew - even if there is a lot of history that isn't going to just go away.
Page 06: Laura Weathermill comes in to ask about what they're going to do about James the Faux-Angel. Connor tells her that his dad is trying to get some answers outside of L.A., because everyone in the city seems to be too afraid of what they know to share.
Page 07: Back at the Place de Monk-Chants, the vampire in custody is disintegrated by the monks' spell. Dreads summons somebody in a lighting bolt of FFFWWWOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSHHHHHHH.
So, you know it's serious.
Page 08: Where the captive vampire stood before, now Angel stands. Dreads introduces himself as 'Darrow'. He welcomes Angelus.
Page 09: Angel corrects him on the name. Darrow tells Angel he's been brought there because they need his assistance. In the meantime the brown-robe set casts these aside to reveal hunky, buff, bald and beautiful men. In form fitting black, to boot.
Page 10: Angel demands to know where he is, but with the BodySuits crowding him, he lashes out. He's handily beating their asses, until one of the Muscle Monks leaps on his back feet first, which hurt.
Page 11: Darrow joins in the fight, telling Angel he wished to avoid this, but it doesn't seem like he tried all that hard to. He backhands the vampire and Angel goes flying through the air, to slam into a wall. He's momentarily stunned by the blow.
When karate-monk goes to haul him to his feet though, he shows that his stunning was exaggerated. With the wrist-stake contraption up his sleeve, he shoves the wooden stake through the very human monk-guy. It's a non-fatal strike, however.
Commentary: I really liked the way the artwork handled the action over these last two pages. Darrow, is of course, associated with W & H - as last issues "Next Issue" blurb told us they'd be here. I wouldn't be a stretch, to presume that Darrow is the new Hamilton.
I also really like seeing Angel's wrist stakes in action again. And with Wolverine-cool 'snckt' too! Angel is even wearing the 'teeth baring' grin that Wolvie often uses when he's clawing somebody. It's hard not to see this as a reference to the Marvel character.
Page 12: Angel follows up by flipping monk guy over his shoulder. But, when he throws the stake across the room at Darrow, the other man easily bats it away.
Darrow finds it a pathetic attempt, but Angel isn't going to argue the matter. He's taken off down a corridor.
Page 13: Angel finds that he's in an office complex as he bolts past Bettie Page. Oh, sure, they call her 'Mendoza' - but that is clearly just an alias.
Bettie Page-Mendoza berates Darrow for allowing his 'lab rat' to get away (And, she SO should have used the reference 'is scurrying away' instead), but Darrow is not worried.
As Angel discovers when he reaches the floor reception area, he is indeed in one of the Wolfram & Hart offices.
Page 14: Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles at Anne's runaway halfway house, we can see somebody on the floor looking half rotted. A... thing... protrudes from the body's back and James welcomes a half-demon/half-human baby into the world. He's all smiles as he informs the newborn infant that he's the calling card showing that Earth's Breeding Farm is now open for business.
Commentary: The body isn't Anne Steele, so there is the hope that we won't see the former Lily killed. But, since this is Angel... well... I'm afraid of seeing what may have become of Anne. And yes, James/Myr is still hot despite the gross-evil going on. And he's adorable holding little slimy demonic infant in the cradle of his arm.
Page 15: In the meantime, Angel heads upward toward the roof in his escape flight from Darrow. Angel's concern is warning the others that they have both James and W&H to deal with now, and they're not prepared at the moment.
When he reaches the roof though, he's stopped short by some shock. Darrow arrives behind him. He tells him that this... whatever they're looking at... is the reason why they've summoned him. Darrow claims that W&H are no longer the bad guys.
Page 16 & 17: Angel gazes out over a future Los Angeles. They sky is covered in smog and highrise factory buildings crowd all available space.
Darrow tells Angel that he's in the future. One which came about when James' plans were successful. The entire planet has been made over into a huge demon-breeding factory to provide dimension-invading armies to all sides. He further tells Angel that he believes he has a plan to stop this from ever occurring, but he needs Angel's help.
But, Angel has had too much experience with trying to make deals with W&H. He demands to be sent back to his real time. Darrow claims he couldn't do that without help from the Senior Partners, and they won't unless Angel helps Darrow first. Angel refuses.
Commentary: My immediate thought is that if Angel remains in the future, we may see the storyline of the Prophecy play out from his vision received in Issue 12.
That may be really awesome, and I suddenly found myself excited by this James storyline again. When the plot is centering on his evil schemes it really starts to get interesting and I'm *really* hoping that the potential is realized.
At this point, I'll tell you... I haven't finished reading IDW's Angel series. I've got them... and then I kinda just stacked 'em for later browsing and didn't get to them. So, from here to the end I'll be looking at this with fresh eyes and no future spoilering.
Also, same thing with Spike and Illyria off on their Las Vegas jaunt. I think I read the first issue and then the others got stacked for a later that didn't happen, so we'll be reviewing that one cold as well.
I hope I don't wind up deeply disappointed (Spike: After the Fall -- I'm glaring at you).
Page 18: Instead, Angel falls backward off of the roof....
The Good: I continue to want to plug the artwork. I really like it.
James. His plot is really interesting to me, and I'm feeling anticipation to see where W&H are going to come in to fight him.
The Bad: Nothing yanked me out of the story on this one.
Other Thoughts: I like the idea of Connor taking over Angel Investigations, but I'm afraid that he'll just be used as a buttclown some more. I don't like how Connor has been used throughout IDW's run with these characters.
I also like the idea of Gunn being back and that he and Connor have a tense relationship, still.
The Score: I like this issue and the sense of momentum and direction its building. The story feels focused and with an arc purpose, which just didn't happen with Spike's 'soul-issue', or Gunn's struggle with his After-the-Fall post-coma blues, or really with 'After the Fall', itself which often meandered until you thought the plot might have been lost.
It's been awhile since I really felt anticipation in following a plot arc to find out what is going to happen. This issue accomplished that.
4.0 out of 5 stars.
Next up: Issue 39's chapter in the Eddie Hope tale.