Writer: Bryan Edward Hill, Artwork: Gleb Melnikov & Roman Titov, Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Dan Panosian
Page 01: We open on flashback images of Angelus' deeds, as Angel monologues... "For the homes I burned. For the families I've torn apart. The heroes I have left to die. For what I was and am."
Commentary: Nice page.
Page 02: Angel finishes his thoughts with, "I deserve a rag doll toss from a demonic crazy person."
We see Angel in the midst of an uncontrolled flight across the room, where the teen girl who was about to slash up Fred's face has thrown him.
Page 03: After Angel slams into a wall, Controlled Teen Girl tells him in demonica-voice that he is a betrayer, and the demon will douse him in hate.
Angel tells the girl that he can't kill her because she didn't deserve what crawled inside her, but at the same time, we see him reaching into his jacket for something.
The demon gloats that he can taste the girl's soul.
Page 04: The demonically possessed girl makes an incredible hall-length leap. But in the meantime, Angel pulled out a balloon from his coat. He explains that he had a priest bless the water inside it as he breaks it with a throw into the girl's face.
Page 05: The girl bursts into flames, as the demon writhes around, throwing it's borrowed body into the walls.
It/She finally collapses to the floor, with the demon whispering out that he's a betrayer.
Commentary: I gotta admit to be just slightly disappointed. It turned out that the battle was pretty anti-climactic. And I'm not buying that Angel could carry around a water balloon in his coat without it being seen, if not breaking during that hard wall impact. It's all kinda-ridiculous, in the wrong way.
Page 06: The girl seemingly burns to a crisp, putting paid to Angel not killing her. But then she sits up with a loud crack, as the demonic ash tumbles off of her very intact body. She's naturally in shock, but Angel assures her that he isn't going to hurt her.
Page 07: Angel then turns his attention to Fred. He points out that the thing was attempting to kill her for some reason, and that it may be better for her to come with him for now. He also promises that he isn't there to hurt her, either.
Page 08: As Fred reaches up a hand, for some reason Angel flashes back to Marius the Axe doing the same. He remembers Angelus and her fiercely making out, as he keeps repeating not to remember this ... her... now.
Commentary: Which felt utterly random, as has all of flashbacks to Mara, the warrior. Obviously, she's being set up as a big bad returning to hunt down Angel but the way that it's being gone about is really haphazard. And it didn't need to be. This flashback could've easily been shoved into the fight scene with the possessing demon, by have the demon induce it to throw off/attempt to seduce Angelus from Angel.
A little reworking, and it would've been relevant to Angel's current battle, and may once that was re-thought, maybe Angel's fight wouldn't have ended in an unconvincing water balloon attack.
I mean, I get it. Defeating a possession with a holy water balloon is one of those crazy throwaways that Joss would like. It's certainly in keeping with Buffy and Angel's occassional bouts of silly during a high drama scene, but it was a bit too far on the side of random.
Page 09: Sometime later, Angel has returned to Los Angeles. In voiceover, we find out that Fred isn't very communicative and that Angel is trying to convince himself that having a woman from an insane asylum wondering his home is totally fine.
Page 10: In his apartment, Angel tries to coax some answers from Fred, but she's obsessed with computer code and just keeps repeating the answer is a string of ones and zeroes. Angel isn't grasping that Fred is referring to the demon's use of the digital landscape, and using it to hunt him down.
Page 11: Lilith suddenly appears in Angel's place. Angel, remembering Lilith's previous outburst, tells her that he's trying to ask as politely as possible, but he needs to know what the hell is going on.
She replies that the insane young woman is in all probability the key to Angel's future. Which prompts him to ask how, admitting it's the obvious response.
Page 12: Lilith tells Angel that she can't see his timeline chronologically, describing it as looking into images through dark water, where images from his life swirl together. She tells him that she has seen three clear images strongly.
A) A madwoman becomes a sorceress (which could be Fred, or could be Willow - by the drawing)
B) A gun will become is ally (this is definitely Charles Gunn)
C) And love will bring him to his greatest pain (definitely Buffy)
Commentary: I'm usually annoyed by the "I know this thing, but I can't tell you" trope. But I like the way that these visions are described by Lilith here, and the visual clues provided for us, if not Angel. I have a feeling that the madwoman is going to be Dark Willow, but there is a lack of visual detail so it could be a deliberate misdirect to lead us to assume based on what we know of the other Buffyverse.
I've been liking the way that the characters from our Buffyverse are being folded into BOOM!Buffyverse, while making sure to treat each of them slightly differently. This is much less a re-hash than I had feared, and I am finding myself climbing aboard this freight train... especially when it comes to Angel, for the moment.
Page 13: "You are becoming, Angel..." [Okay. That was not clever, just too much inside reference.]
Lilith tells Angel that his foe has seen the same shapes in the water that she has glimpsed. She tells Angel that evil knows that Angel is its enemy, but more, that he inspires others to be its enemy as well. He is attempting to stop the future and has targeted Miss Burkle because she is a part of the whole. He is seeking to destroy his friends and allies before he makes them.
Lilith forebodingly describes Angel's current battle as "a war to end your war".
Page 14: Lilith tells Angel that his opponent has no name. But it has been with humanity since they discovered their vanity. First coming to people through paintings and sculptures, then through mirrors and now it has slid into the digital creations of humankind... "Like, Share, and Subscribe".
Angel asks how he finds it and kills it, but Lilith reflects the question back to him, "... how can you find something on the digital tides?"
She points back to Fred's obsessively repeating "ones and zeroes in a row", and tells him that Fred has been showing him the way.
Commentary: I am of two minds about this digital demonic thing. It's a little too on the nose about people's obsession with themselves through social media, and comes across as heavy handed and obvious... not nearly as clever as it feels like the writer thinks it is and nothing that hasn't been pointed out in articles ad nauseum by now.
On the other hand, I do like the idea of the demonic taking advantage of the digital age and moving beyond their musty books and spells alongside their prey. It'd be nice if the solution to this current attack is that the demons are always following humanity's lead, and therefore can be outmaneuvered by a human because we're so innovative and creative.
Juxtapositioning humanity's relative weakness and vulnerability with the demonic's inability to think ahead of humanity, with each innovation happening so quickly (for them), that they're constantly trying to catch up with our new ways would be an interesting place to explore, I think.
And it would nicely tie into Buffy's message to the First Slayer in the original Buffyverse that the modern Slayer isn't bound by old, outdated rules anymore.
Page 15: Lilith slips away, leaving Angel to ask Fred is she can find his enemy. She asks for chalk to mark up his floor.
Suddenly she cries out, and her eye glow...
Page 16: ... Fred goes into a frenzy of drawing on the floor, a mystic circle of some sort.
Angel is less than thrilled by magic coming into play.
Commentary: I'm less than thrilled by the lack of a one, a zero, or some sort of mathematical reference after all of that reference to digital representation from Fred. And this may hint that the "Dark Willow" scene from Lilith will turn out to be Fred going 'round the bend at some point as the sorceress out of control.
Page 17: Fred holds out her wrist to cut for the blood that is needed to open a gateway. Angel opts to use his own.
Page 18: Angel steps into the circle and bleeds in its center. This causes his body to disintegrate bloodily, and he's transported from his apartment downward into the mystic gate. Fred warns him not to believe anything that he sees.
Commentary: Okay, I did like the gruesome way Angel left our reality for whatever netherspace Fred sent him through. And I like the idea of the twist in Fred being a magic user, but I am going to want some exploration into how she fell into magic from her more logical background (at least as we know it right now).
Page 19: Lilith has reappeared at Fred's side and comfortingly pats her arm. She tells Fred that she's done very well. She also tells Fred that if Angel survives, her mind won't hurt anymore.
Fred asks if she'll stop being in pain, but Lilith clarifies that only this pain will pass. There will be other pain coming that all of them will have to bare. She sympathetically tells Fred that it's difficult to be this important and that she would not have chosen to create Fred this way.
Fred asks after Angel being a friend, and Lilith assures her that he is now.
Commentary: I'm very much liking how Lilith is being handled. Rather than the obvious EVIL for being the mother of demons, they're really taking a very different tact with her. And I'm really liking how gentle she is with Fred, showing a great amount of caring for the fragile woman. It's an interesting take on her.
Page 20: Angel appears somewhere else. Surrounding him is a seemingly endless maze, which he can't appreciate from his vantage point.
In the meantime, Lilith is warning Fred that despite Angel now being a friend, she may need to kill him later....
The Good: I am really liking Lilith, especially in her quiet scenes with the damaged Fred Burkle.
The Bad: Hidden water balloon in Angel's jacket, which is so flat, we don't see it until he pulls it out. Hmmmm.
Other Thoughts: I was a little letdown by how quickly and easily Angel defeated the possession. But the visuals were well done.
I also appreciate the build-up we're getting to Mara/Marius returning to wreak havok on Angel, but the flashback insertions are being shoved in randomly. More structure in when/where they appear would go a long way in creating a sense of excitement or foreboding with her return. It's too haphazard to create a mood.
Lilith telling Angel that he's "becoming" is way too cutesy. Please use references to the original Buffyverse more sparingly.
The Score: This isn't a bad issue, but really it's the visuals that carried most of the work. This felt like what it essentially is: A set up issue to get Angel on an active hunt for the demon that Lilith wants to stop. The exposition by Lilith was well written, but the beginning battle was too short-lived and the insertions of flashbacks were entirely divorced from anything that was happening in the issue.
3.50 out of 5 stars