Angel (Dark Horse’s S11)
Season 09, Issue 03
“Out of the Past”, part III
Writer: Corinna Bechko, Artwork: Geraldo Borges, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings, [Comicraft’s] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Scott Fischer
Blurb: When young Liam was turned into a vampire, he became exceptionally bad. Under the name Angelus, for hundreds of years he reveled in killing and left horror in his wake. In 1898, he received his comeuppance through a gypsy curse that returned to him his soul and his conscience. Now known as Angel, he has been trying to make up ever since for all that he did as a soulless, evil monster.
Winifred “Fred” Burkle is a brilliant and quirky physicist who has been through her own series of mystical events and works with her friend Angel to make the world safer. Fred shares her body with an Old One, a goddess named Illyria; it’s weird, but it seems to be working out.
Plagued by a vision of doom that is connected to his past, Angel has been transported back in time by Illyria - by accident - to an ancient period when Illyria ruled. Angel and Fred find themselves trying to prevent a disaster in this time, caught between two Illyrias and an invading demon…
Page 01: Angel, Fred and Illyria’s worshipper from the local time - Swal, gaze up at Illyria’s giant true form. She’s got a bug up her butt and lashes out at the interior of their hovel, while Swal begs for her forgiveness.
Page 02: Swal’s pleading, as so often when dealing with godlings, is ignored. He’s picked up by Illyria’s tentacle and slammed into the wall of the cave. Fred tries to rush to his aid, but Angel holds her back and tells her to remain as still as possible.
Page 03: Giant Illyria tries to feel for Angel and Fred. Fred offers to Humanoid Illyria that now may be a good time to manifest and talk to her counterpart, but Illyria remains subsumed.
Fortunately, there is a screeching cry across the jungle, and Giant Illyria heeds its summons, leaving Angel and Fred for the moment.
Page 04: Swal is barely alive when our twosome rush to his side. He has just enough life to him to tell them that Illyria has been summoned to attend The Calling. With the signal having sounded like a war horn to Angel’s ears, he and Fred guess that her followers are still fighting the invading demon over dominion.
Since Illyria’s foe is a life-drinker, Fred suggests this will only end up summoning all of her mortal armies to be a smorgasbord.
Commentary: Okay, I’m really still very confused about why Angel or Fred want to spend so much energy on this. What happened here, already happened. Everything is proceeding as (pre)history ‘records’. The only one who may want to change how things happened is Illyria, but Fred should be the most vocal in arguing with her that she can’t go around and change the past, without putting their futures in question.
And while they’re dicking around with an old regret of Illyria’s, Angel should also be pressuring their Illyria to stop focusing on things that happened an eon ago, and get back to finding out what the current danger is to Earth.
I don’t like how our characters have completely forgotten about why they’re on this time-twist trip in the first place, so they can focus on a goddess vs. demonic throw down.
Page 05: Angel and Fred decide they need to catch up with Giant Illyria and help to avert her worshipper slaughter, that Humanoid Illyria is holding so much regret over. But as Angel’s back is turned to Fred, Illyria has taken over again.
She punches Angel to the ground, and tells him that this is her responsibility…
Page 06: Angel rushes to catch up with Humanoid Illyria, but runs into one of the demon tribes who worship Giant Illyria. He tries to warn them that if they’re consumed, they’ll only make her foe stronger, but they’re ready to offer their bodies to Illyria for consumption if it will give her their strength.
Page 07: As Angel follows along Humanoid Illyria’s path, he comes across some demonic villagers, who aren’t interested in fighting this battle with Giant Illyria. But Illyria’s enforcers are insistent that their only choices are to die at the battle site for their goddess, or die right there and then as executed cowards.
The villagers insist they’ll go, however reluctantly, but Angel isn’t happy to see ‘civilians’ pressed into war by thugs. He vamps out against the henchmen.
Commentary: And again… this is all wasting time! He needs to get to Humanoid Illyria, warn her that this is all something that already happened and she should stop mucking about with things in the past, and concentrate on what she can do in the “here and now” on Earth.
Stop risking changing human beings’ positions in the future by screwing around in the past, like this!
Page 08: Angel launches himself at the spear wielding thugs, and easily bests them.
Page 09: It turns out the non-combatants weren’t interested in heeding the call to arms of their goddess, because they’re a group of pacifists. And while they’re not thrilled with Angel’s methods, they do appreciate that he helped them. He’s warned that Illyria will not like that he prevented her thugs from pressing them into this warfare, and advises him that he should come with them and stay away from her.
Page 10: Angel tries to convince his new traveling buddies to spread the word for others to refuse the call to arms as well, but they refuse. The demons tell him that they’ve tried to bring non-violence to their lands, and it doesn’t work.
Page 11: What’s more, when their spreading of the word for peace didn’t produce any positive results, they went with a really bad plan B.
The pacifist group were the ones that lured the demonic monster to Illyria’s lands. They thought that if they brought one of Illyria’s rivals into conflict with her, the two immensely powerful beings would kill each other off.
And with Illyria’s fall, they’d be free to live their lives their own way, without a merciless goddess to constantly appease.
Unfortunately, they weren’t planning on Illyria’s rival actually being able to get stronger by defeating the violent armies of hers, leaving them now possibly trading one ‘hell’ for another.
Page 12: While Angel understands their goal, and how they feel with it going so wrong, he still wonders why they won’t help him put things to right. The pacifists tell him that each time they’ve tried to correct their error, it just keeps leading to things going worse than before.
They, as a group, have decided that only by stepping back and not interfering any more can the situation ultimately resolve itself.
Page 13: From their hilltop hideaway, Angel and they can see Giant Illyria battling the Demonic Invader out in the jungle. And Angel also sees that Humanoid Illyria has caught up with her counterpart and is now engaged in the battle as well.
Meanwhile, pacifists explain to Angel that in their attempts to cancel their summoning mistake, they think that they’ve actually given the Invader a magical boost, because It has become larger since it first arrived and started raiding.
Commentary: In other words, their attempts to free themselves from Illyria has resulted in a clusterfuck of doom. And which, ultimately - if the timeline is left alone - will result in their extinction when Giant Illyria summons the volcanoes to scorch the lands to keep them from her rival’s grasp.
Page 14: With this new information, Angel rushes back after Illyria. Whether he’s going to inform Giant Illyria that her foe is mystically enhanced, or just convince Humanoid Illyria that she can’t help turn the tide of the past battle, I’m unclear on. I’m not sure that he knows.
But either way, he only ends up making himself a target for Illyria’s ground troops’ spears and arrows.
Commentary: This issue is really bugging me. It all feels really pointless and on top of that -- drawn out to fill pages to boot. None of this is holding my interest, because we’re spending too much time with Angel’s circular arguing with pacifists and bumbling around, and not enough watching Illyria and a Giant Demon beat the crap out of each other.
Page 15: For reasons, the fact that Illyria’s troops are suddenly turning on Angel intruding into their battle also causes Giant Illyria and Giant Invader to call a brief time out, so Giant Illyria can try to crush Angel for his intrusion.
[Because in a death match with someone equally skilled and powerful as you, naturally you’d stop battle for every mosquito that buzzed by at your feet. It only makes sense….]
Page 16: Fortunately for Angel, Humanoid Illyria is able to intervene between Giant Illyria swinging a tree trunk and Angel’s prone form. She takes the blow that would’ve smushed him, and with her knocked to her knees, Giant Illyria quickly refocuses again on her true foe.
As the two behemoths again turn to battle, Humanoid Illyria helps Angel stumble away from the direct line of fire. But she tells Angel that she has to go back and try to get her alternate self to control her temper before the worst happens.
Page 17: Angel tries to get her to stop, so he’ll have time to inform her of what he’s learned about why this battle came into existence but she won’t be deterred. Her entire focus is on stopping Giant Illyria from destroying everything and everyone in the domain through her rage.
But when Humanoid Illyria was hit so brutally by her giant counterpart, it injured her severely. As she rushes back toward the battle, she suddenly collapses to the ground. In her place, Fred appears… and just in time to almost be flattened by a falling over Giant Illyria.
Page 18: Once Angel has gotten Fred out of the battle zone, they discuss how badly Humanoid Illyria got thwacked. Fred goes on to tell Angel that she was responsible this time for Illyria’s fade out, as she was too winded to resist Fred’s pushing her aside. She reasons to Angel that Illyria seemed to be making really bad choices and she knew she needed to stop her from trying to fight both her own Giant self and the Invading Demon, while she had the opening.
But, that does leave them both at a loss as to what to do next to survive the coming holocaust.
Page 19: Somehow, Angel managed to hold onto the scrying bowl through all of this (*cough, yea -- somehow… *cough).
Fred uses it to contact the Fairweathers in the far future for advice on what to do. They’re surprised to find an ancestor of the exact tribe of pacifists from Giant Illyria’s time existent and apparently knowing Liv quite well, despite the fact that Sophie could’ve sworn they were extinct.
Page 20: The point of Angel’s call, was to find out any stories that the Fairweathers may’ve heard of about a titanic battle in pre-history, because they’re trying to locate the final staging area of Giant Illyria’s forces to stop the rout that will cause her to lose it and destroy everything in the vicinity while they’re there.
[And Angel’s questioning is so utterly vague as to be useless in determining any actual information, even if Sophie or Liv would’ve actually known any vague stories of relevance. This is just so badly plotted.]
Thankfully, luckily, or fatedly… Arev, that member of the pacifist clan who weren’t wiped out after all in the past, is able to tell Angel and Fred of a place that his clan myths say should be avoided at all costs.
Commentary: Which wouldn’t even be existent after eons, so Arev’s racial stories carried on down the line still wouldn’t be of any use whatsoever. Especially since Angel and Fred have no idea WHERE they actually are on Earth in the current time frame, and it’s hard to believe Arev’s family would have only passed down one story… the very story that would hold the very place that Angel and Fred want to get to.
Page 21: Fred offers a hand wave that Arev’s family must’ve been serious historians, because somehow, he was able to direct them exactly where they should go. Angel and she are able to spy down into a valley where Giant Illyria’s forces are mustering for a final assault on the Giant Invader.
Fred seems to briefly fall into a trance upon seeing Illyria’s army before her. She quickly is subsumed and Humanoid Illyria stands in her place. Angel warns her that she may not be able to defeat the Invader Demon because of the magical enhancements she isn’t aware of yet.
But Illyria if focused now on things having progressed too far to stop.
Page 22: She points out to Angel the beginnings of a volcano being summoned up from the depths of the Earth by her outraged counterpart. She tells Angel that this may be what kicks off the tragedy in the far future, because her ancient self is going to change the Earth in some fundamental way. She tells Angel that she has no choice but to kill her past self…!
Commentary: And at least this very end sorta ties things back to the whole point of the cross-time caper to begin with, if you squint and read into it a bit, anyway -- which is what I’ve chosen to do.
The Good: I did like the moment when Fred deliberately pushed Illryia out of the way, because she didn’t like her choice making.
The Bad: The entire scrying scene set up is awfully plotted. It’s way too convenient the bowl wasn’t lost or damaged while… um… tucked in Angel’s shirt? It’s way, way too convenient that a member of the species that should be extinct but isn’t is now intimately involved with a Fairweather in order to be at their place when Angel calls via scrying for information. It’s far to convenient that Arev just happens to know the exact details of the location of a battle that happened eons ago… one which was supposed to have wiped out any living witness so there wouldn’t be anyone to tell the tale in the first place.
I hate Fred not voicing the opinion that Humanoid Illyria cannot be allowed to wholesale change Giant Illyria’s past actions because of the impacts down the time stream. Fred, as a brilliant physicist, should have utmost concern for unintended consequences by Illyria screwing around with the way history records things to have happened.
Other Thoughts: I really didn’t like the overall writing on this one, but the plot itself isn’t bad. It’s mostly just the pacing, and the amount of time we spend on Angel wandering - rather than on the exciting battle between two gods.
I kinda like that the pacifists basically made everything way worse by trying to find a force that could oppose their goddess to get them free of her. But the run-on dialog stretches the point and takes too much page space.
The Score: There is too much sloppy plotting, and inane developments for me to enjoy this issue. I also didn’t like so many panels being taken up by Angel talking, but not really making any difference to what is happening. The whole issue feels like a wandering subplot that got stretched into a whole issue.
2.25 out of 5 stars