Season 09 (not 11), Issue 04
"Out of the Past" part IV
Writer: Corinna Bechko, Art: Geraldo Borges & Michelle Madsen, Lettering: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft's) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Scott Fischer
Blurbing: 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 is 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 found Illyria of the past fighting a giant demon and her followers throwing themselves into the fray. The duo must dispatch the demon and confront ancient Illyria...
My Blurbage: So, last issue my biggest problem with this arc was that Angel & Fred spend way too little time worrying over Humanoid Illyria interfering in Present-Illyria's warfare, when they have no idea how changing the course of that battle could impact their present. I also had problems with the amount of time that Angel himself gets sidetracked by people's issues who are long, long since dust - and again, despite seemingly very small changes by inserting himself, is risking the present that he and Fred know with all of this dashing around.
This remains my primary objection to the way the arc is handled. Mostly because Fred definitely should be far more concerned with the flow of history being disrupted by their actions, and she doesn't seem to be giving so much as a thought.
And now that I've blurbbed about it, I won't feel the need to constantly insert page commentaries repeating, myself.
Page 01: Angel tells Illyria that there must be another way, rather than let everyone get killed by her ancient counterpart's temper tantrum. Humanoid Illyria warns that he wouldn't have the ability to stop her rage in this time period, but he insists that he has to try.
Their argument about what they can or can't do is interrupted by an earthquake, as Giant Illyria continues to focus her outrage on summoning a cleansing lava to wipe everything away.
Page 02: As Illyria readies to evacuate herself and Angel from the area, the growing volcano readies to blow its top.
Angel offers that she could transport them a little backward, so they'll have another try at convincing Giant Illyria's hordes to not rush to her service, and unintentionally giving the Giant Demon more power. Or a bit forward after the eruption has completed and cooled, so they can... continue with their real quest, I guess?
But Humanoid Illyria warns him that she can't just travel the same time period over and over, as it creates weak spots in the time flow. She could inadvertently unravel everything with this damage.
Angel asks her to give it one more try for all of their sakes.
Commentary: Or, y'know: You could return to your own time and then backtrack to whatever Angel did in the past to threaten the present... y'know... the point of this risky jaunt in the first place?
Page 03: What to risk next is sidelined by more of Giant Illyria's army heading toward the battlefield. Humanoid Illyria works on convincing them that she is their goddess in another form, and that they are not honoring her by rushing to their doom.
The troops have trouble recognizing any Illyria that would not order them to battle on her behalf.
Page 04: It's a good thing that Swal wasn't killed by Giant Illyria back in the cave, but was only knocked unconscious.
He's now able to confirm that Humanoid Illyria is who she claims, and that they must obey her commands or suffer her wrath. Humanoid Illyria supplies a powers-lightshow to underline Swal's words.
Commentary: Presumably, magic is rampant on Earth at this time with all of the powerful demons running around, so I fail to see what this actually proves. Unless at this point, Illyria was one of the very few goddesses left standing, which I suppose could be, but that point hasn't actually been made.
Page 05: Illyria uses her powers to levitate Swal to prove that they are speaking the truth to her followers. The army comes to the conclusion that she is their Illyria, if different than they know her and choose to follow her directives to stop from rushing into battle.
Commentary: I just have to shake my head and laugh when the demons are asking "How is she doing that?" and "There's no other explanation!" Uh: She's a sorceress. She's a rival goddess. She's a member of the Invader's forces sowing confusion.
Ugh, whatever folks.
Page 06: As soon as Humanoid Illyria has convinced her army to flee though, Giant Demon crashes out of the forest on the attack, easily gobbling up many of them whole. (Last issue, Giant Illyria was knocked down... apparently she hasn't recovered quite yet & the Giant Demon is going after her men for more power by consuming them rather than attempting to kill Giant Illyria while she's stunned.)
Illyria shouts at them to flee, not attack.
Page 07: Humanoid Illyria now leaps in between the fleeing army and the Giant Invader Demon, ordering it to go back to its own land.
In the meantime, Swal hesitates to run away from his goddess in trouble. But Angel fangs out and threatens to kill him, himself, if he doesn't get out of there like Illyria needs him to.
Commentary: Which actually felt a lot to me like just giving Angel something to do. If anything, he should be fleeing too, since his welfare can only be a distraction right now, and he's hopelessly outmatched by the Invader.
Page 08: The Giant Invader Demon barely notices one humanoid, so focuses on rushing toward the fleeing army instead, including Swal and one of Illyria's commanders.
Humanoid Illyria leaps to intercept, delivering a hard right cross that topples the Giant Invader off of its tentacles.
Page 09: Even on its side on the ground though, the Giant Invader Demon can't resist the tender morsels. Angel has to step in, to distract the Invader from eating Illyria's commander-guy, but getting whipped to the ground as hard as possible.
Thanks, Angel (now get the hell out of the way -- you're still a distraction for Humanoid Illyria).
Page 10: The Giant Invader Demon, before it can simply squash or consume Angel and possibly Humanoid Illyria, fortunately notices that it's actually pretty close to a sea that is familiar to it. Remember that the Pacifists had teleported it into Illyria's lands. Now that it sees a way to get back to its own territory, it takes it by rushing for the coast.
Angel voices relief, but Illyria worries that her counterpart will order pursuit and the conflict will still end in the same way.
Angel tells Humanoid Illyria that they should see if they can talk the other version of her into some sense.
Page 11: As Humanoid Illyria watches the Invader swimming away, she tells Angel that she wishes she knew how avoidance could've saved so much suffering in her past. Angel offers her that she has matured since these events first played out.
But, they're still not out of danger, as Giant Illyria doesn't know that the conflict is over and she's still building up to a volcano-pocalypse.
Commentary: Which... no, no, I said I wasn't going to go on again about changing all of this past....
Page 12: Humanoid Illyria and Angel rush off toward Giant Illyria to stop her meltdown of the entire region.
Page 13: Angel asks just what they'll do if Humanoid Illyria can't get Giant Illyria to stop what she's doing to the landscape. She tells him she'll deal with that eventuality if it's needed.
Angel tries to make her promise that she won't kill her earlier counterpart, but Illyria replies that she doesn't make promises, since nobody can hold her accountable to them, anyway.
Page 14: When they arrive, Giant Illyria is glowing with power and Humanoid Illyria doubts that they've been in time to stop what has been set in motion by her younger self.
Page 15: She confronts her full goddess self, who doesn't recognize her and goes on the attack as the volcano heads ever closer to detonation.
Angel tries to get both of them to stop fighting one another.
Page 16: Angel shouts at Giant Illyria that she has to stop what she's started, but even as he does, the volcano is already beginning to spout lava from its cone.
He shouts at Illyria that she can convince herself to stop this, but only by using her words, instead of trying to beat the sense into her giant self.
Giant Illyria is intrigued enough with Angel's words and has now recognized another form of herself, and so starts to listen.
Commentary: But again, this is all feeling like it's trying to give Angel more of an impact than he might otherwise have in a battle that is beyond him. This is really Illyria's story, I think, but the writing is trying desperately to make Angel the hero of it. And it's all coming off as trying too hard to make him stay in focus since his name is on the title.
I'd have been just as happy at keeping him relatively out of the way, and focusing everything on Humanoid Illyria trying to convince her Giant Self to change this event in their shared history. I also think this would've been a far stronger story if it kept a focus on the philosophical debate between the two Illyrias on changing 'history' instead of shoehorning so much repetitive action into the issue with humanoid characters who can't actually impact anything.
Page 17: Since the two Illyrias can communicate without words, the conversation is very quick. But, in the meantime, the cone is emitting ash across Illyria's lands. But Humanoid Illyria is able to convince Giant Illyria that if she carries out this event, it will remain a regret that will haunt her throughout eons to come.
Commentary: And, I'm just having a hard time believing that THIS has been an event that has plagued Illyria. She couldn't give two craps about what she did to Koh and his peoples, and she got familiar with him. I suppose it could be a regret that is less about destroying the lands here, than about driving an entire people - her loyal followers - to extinction, but a) I'm still having trouble believing it would have been preying on Humanoid Illyria enough to have led her back here during her time jaunt with Angel, and b) that it'd be that easy to convince her younger self that she'll come to care this much, when Giant Illyria should've complained that Humanoid Illyria was just being weak because of whatever led her to become entrapped in this future form, which c) means that Giant Illyria should've been much more interested in convincing Humanoid Illyria to join with her to stop her from being entrapped in such a small form in the first place -- if they're going to change history anyway, instead of worrying about insignificant mortals and their fates.
And all of this could've made an interesting story for Illyria, but we've spent so much time with Angel running around and making speeches to her followers to abandon the battle and being relatively useless in battles between titans.
Page 18: Humanoid Illyria exclaims to Angel that Giant Illyria isn't strong enough to stop what she's set in motion. Angel reminds her how much she's learned since she existed in this timeframe, and sends her to help her younger self contain the damage, before he gets roasted to ash by the lava flow.
Page 19: The two Illyrias are successful, but Humanoid Illyria expends so much energy in stopping the disaster and the fireball raining down toward them, that she collapses.
Fred makes a reappearance, weak.
Page 20: She's momentarily shocked by being faced so close with Giant Illyria, but the goddess seems sanguine about her future imprisonment inside of such a tiny mortal... possibly even a little amused at where she'll find herself eventually.
Page 21: Fred worries over the fact that she can't feel Illyria at all within her, anymore. But Giant Illyria assures her that if her older self had died, she'd have felt the ripples in time. She offers that her counterpart is simply deeply asleep to recover from her ordeal.
She offers that she will send Angel and Fred forward in time on her counterpart's behalf. But it will fall on Angel to guide the way.
Page 22: Naturally, Angel doesn't exactly know what that is supposed to mean, or how to direct their progress forward.
And Giant Illyria isn't of the patient, explain every detail sort...
The Good: It feels a little too convenient for Illyria to worry about affects on the timestream of simply traveling a little bit backward to before Giant Illyria starts summoning a catastrophic volcano, but I do appreciate an attempt to place some sort of cosmic rules onto her time traveling powers to keep the current dangers present.
The Bad: There are some short cuts going on here that hurt the logic of the story, and yet at the same time, there are a lot of Angel exclaiming things so that he'll not feel irrelevant. It's all time that could've been better spent talking about the entire "change history, change the future" problem.
I'm sorry to repeat myself about this, but it really annoys me that NOBODY brings up the dangers of unintended consequences by stopping Illyria from repeating her regretful actions here. It's not as bad as last issue, when Fred was much more of a presence, but it's still ridiculous that it isn't brought up -- especially once Humanoid Illyria brings up the dangers of time traveling over the same section of the time stream more than once... it seems like the risks they're running of saving a whole demonic populations are just as big to the future/their present.
Other Thoughts: It doesn't make any difference to scoring, but I'm seriously having some issues with the artwork on this one, too. Especially Angel and Illyria's faces.
The Score: This issue was better than last, but I'm still finding a lot of unnecessary padding in most of Angel's dialog and interactions with 'the native demons', and due to this, the scenes between the two Illyrias together are short-changed, when they should've been the heart of the issue.
2.75 out of 5 stars