Season 09 or 11, Issue 11
"Dark Reflections" part 3
Script: Corinna Bechko, Art: Geraldo Borges & 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.
Angel is trying to track down the source of a vision of impending doom that is somehow connected to him and his past. After chasing several false leads through various periods in time, his latest attempt to save the future was to simply destroy his past self -before his siring- but his reckless plan failed thanks to Illyria's interference. In the heat of the moment, passionate feelings between the two surfaced -which is going to make things awkward for Fred...
Page 01: Angel wakes up in a mound of hay, and briefly smiles, before remembering his and Illyria's last interaction. He glances over and suggests that he and Illyria need to talk.
Page 02: Alas, instead of Illyria, it's Fred waiting... and she's pissed.
Angel broached how much Fred may be aware of, as it's confirmed that Illyria and he had sex.
Fred is aware of enough of what happened, to be left in a state of confused revulsion.
Page 03: Angel admits to confusion over just how things happened, but Fred isn't interested in his feelings.
She points out that not everything is about him, and she doesn't have any idea how to handle Illyria's taking over her mind and body, and then having an intimate life with it.
But she tells Angel that they can't deal with this right now, because they still have a future that needs to be saved from an apocalypse.
Page 04: Illyria now takes control, to Angel's being startled again, and wishing they'd give him a heads up before they swap.
Illyria tells him that she's returned to get them back to where/when they should be.
Page 05: She tells Angel that now that she has rested, she'll be able to stop him from controlling their travels, but Angel is ready to get out of the past, anyway.
Illyria opens a time rift, while Angel worries about how they'll be sure that they've landed in the correct year.
Page 06: Angel and Illyria arrive in Dublin, current year to their relief. Although the sirens are indicating that everything isn't alright at the moment.
Page 07: As Angel and Illyria assess their surroundings, Illyria admits confusion. She's sure that she has returned them to a point only seconds after they left, but when they traveled to the past, there wasn't an emergency going on, and in the few seconds between when the left, and when they returned, there wouldn't be enough time for an emergency to be detected and for a response of the size they're seeing to be organized.
Overhead, military coptors are rotoring down the block. Angel asks if that isn't the direction of the hotel where he performed the exorcism.
Illyria confirms this as well.
Commentary: And, I admit to being glad that they've returned to the present. I liked the fight against the bug infested-zombie-pirates, but it doesn't feel like the overall story had a tangible point. Other than a rehash of Angel's emotional struggles with what Angelus did, and it feels like that's well worn ground now to have a twelve issue arc exploring.
I also don't like the sudden Illyria/Angel hookup -- though I think we've seen enough subtle hints in their interactions off & on, that it isn't completely out of left field. But I just don't see this as working for their characters as a thing we're going to deal with: I'm really hoping it was one weird moment, and we can just move on.
Although, I would like to see Fred not just "forget about it" after the current, more pressing crisis is dealt with. There probably really needs to be an intense discussion between Illyria and Fred about boundaries when the Old One has taken control, especially since if Illyria's physical powers are present - and they obvs are - she really could make the claim that when she's in residence, the physical shell is actually hers and not Fred's.
But how much of this we'd actually need on-panel, rather than as observations told to us later, I'm unsure about.
It feels like one of those bigger issues that will just get shortchanged for the next bad guy fight.
Page 08: Angel starts to rush off to see what is happening, but Illyria grabs him and yanks him back.
Across the street, we see Angel and Fred pre-trip to the past.
Angel tells Illyria that he remembers he and Fred having that conversation, but he remembers her phrasing being slightly different. His and her conversation seems a bit off. But Illyria is extremely concerned, because the entire situation is not just a bit off, but completely wrong.
She tells Angel that she was precise about when they arrived back from the past, meaning that it was after Angel and Fred left. But now here they are, and they haven't yet.
She is terrified of them producing a paradox if Angel and Fred don't take their trip backward and is extremely concerned about their meddling altering the flow of time, even just a little.
Page 09: Illyria is so freaked out about what she may've just done to the timestream, that she tells him her presence is only capable of making the situation worse. Angel tries to calm her, but she's adamant that she must remove herself from the current situation, immediately.
She disappears in a swirl of energy....
Commentary: I kinda like this idea that while Illyria and Angel didn't destroy things by their actions in the past, they changed things enough to throw off the flow of time, making things that had already happened changing when they happened by minutes, and throwing everything else off kilter because of it.
It's also my hope now, that the saving of Arex's race in the distant past isn't going to be shrugged off now. Because that is by far the most severe change that they made throughout all of this.
Page 10: With Illyria having retreated, Fred is again back. Angel tries to assure Fred that he wasn't trying to keep Illyria there for any other reason that trying to get things back on track.
Fred tells him that they need to forget everything else, and focus on finding out how damaged time is, and if they can undo what they've done.
A blast of smoky wind nearly knocks them off of their feet from down the block, where the emergency services had been rushing.
Page 11: The smoke in the wind turns out to be the poltergeists from the hotel that were being exorcised before Fred and Angel made their trip to the past.
Angel reminds Fred that Illyria had said before that the spirits had been trying to flee from something invading between worlds.
They realize that whatever it is, must've breached the barriers, allowing the poltergeists - who should be tied to a location - to rush away.
Page 12: Angel and Fred rush off down the block.
Where the hotel used to be, now stands a giant, multi-mawed plant-demon-thing, which is definitely from the weird flower that has been haunting Angel's nightmares.
Page 13: As Fred tries to figure out how to fight it, a policewoman tries her tazergun. But the electricity is reflected back on her, causing her to be stunned. Before she can recover enough to flee, one of the vines of the creature wrap around her. Angel rushes off to help her get free. He calls back to Fred that Illyria could be really useful right now, but Fred shouts back that she won't listen and is insisting that they'd be better off without her!
Page 14: Angel frees the policewoman, and then fangs out to encourage her to run, now and fast.
In the meantime, Fred shouts at Angel that they can't just rush into this battle without thinking things through this time. Which lasts 5 seconds, because Fred sees a father and son about to be snatched up by vines.
She grabs a makeshift club, and groans to herself that of course, that's what they're going to do....
Page 15: She's able to save the man and boy from immediate harm, so a firefighter can get them to safety... almost.
While Fred is trying to fend off the attacking vines with her club, one of them snatches at the firefighter's ankle.
But thankfully, Angel saw his distress, and is able to snap the vine, allowing him to continue.
Page 16: Fred and Angel make their way near to each other, and Fred tries again to tell Angel that just hitting the thing isn't working. She says they need to figure out what it is, and also conjectures that it isn't actually a plant, just looking like one.
In the meantime, it has grown even larger now, and is trashing everything it notices.
Commentary: And this feels like a shout out to both "Little Shop of Horrors" and the three-headed Hellmouth Beast from Sunnydale...
Page 17: Fred tells Angel that she suspects that they've caused a crack in reality, due to the paradoxes surrounding his being there, from being something dead that is 'alive', to having tread the area as Liam, Angel & Angelus - three people who are the same, yet different to his very memories of having met himself.
All of it combined may have been too much for reality itself to cope with.
Page 18: There is a sudden explosive blast of air and dirt. Through the drifting dust, they see the Vine Creature has fallen into a deep hole under the street. Angel expresses hope that reality is self-correcting, but alas, the creature didn't actually disappear in the hole. It only released a brand new problem in addition ... the mutant insects from Angel's nightmares!
Commentary: I'm starting to wonder if this isn't also trying to obliquely reference The Langoliers, too. You could make an argument for the Vine Creature, and this insect plague as a way to wipe this errant reality away.
Page 19: As the insect horde swarms, we find that at least they're not the mind controlling, brain bursters.
Fred takes refuge in a car, and helps save a random woman, but she tells the woman she has to go back out there in order to help her friend, Angel.
Page 20: In the meantime, the Vine Creature has climbed - or grown - back above the street, and re-attacks the police and firefighters, now trying to help people away from the insect swarm.
Page 21: Fred manages to get an axe into Angel's hands, just in time for him to use it to chop a firefighter free of a tendril. But after he's managed to save the guy, Fred shouts his name in alarm...
Page 22: ... it turns out that chopping off the tentacles isn't a great thing to do, as they're only making things worse ... again... this time because the severed tentacles grow more mouths! And the giant is continue to grow out of control.
The Good: I like the tension between Fred and Angel over his ill-advised (and sudden) night of passion with Illyria.
And I also liked the implication that the trip to the past left indelible marks on the timestream, because of their actions, which even now are rippling through the world with unexpected consequences.
I do like too, that the more they try to fight what they've wrought, the worse the situation becomes.
The Bad: I'm still not really understanding how the Vine Creature and the multitude of insects are connected, if at all. It feels really random, and none of Fred's blathering even tries to remotely explain how these two threats are working together, or how Angel had visions about the disaster before they caused it.
Other Thoughts: I don't really buy (as so often when Illyria takes a powder for convenience's sake) Illyria deciding to do nothing, as "I'll only make it worse" as Fred is facing death and Angel and she clearly can't fight the multiplying tentacles of the still-growing Vine Creature. It's not enough to put it into the bad, but I'm just not buying that it. Especially, since with what we're seeing happening, Illyria could easily be in this battle, and have it be for naught just as easily as leaving Fred to the fighting.
The Score: I am feeling a bit weary of this story, at this point. I feel like maybe 10-issues would've been enough, so the "not getting anywhere" on top of the same thing throughout the time travel shenanigans is wearing me down. But I am liking the fight that isn't leading to anything but a worse situation...
3.50 out of 5 stars