Writer: Bryan Edward Hill, Art: Gleb Melnikov & Roman Titov, Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Dan Panosian
Page 01: We open on Angel recovering from his fall through a portal opened by Winifred Burkle. As Angel is trying to pull his head together, a voice greets him, warning him that Angel has no power here.
He tells the vampire that he has entered sorrow where our demon feeds.
Page 02: Angel looks around to find himself in a non-descript, grey space surrounded by identically non-descript, grey maze walls.
There are a few details lurking, but everything has the look of abandonment: a mirror, a computer monitor, some exposed pipes & torn and faded wallpaper over cracked walls. Everything appears to be covered in centuries of dust and neglect.
Page 03: Back at Angel's home, Lilith speaks with Fred some more. Lilith expresses regret and sympathy over what was done to Fred to send her to the asylum. But she also tells her that she has an important role to play in averting a disaster coming for them. Lilith states that all light is dimming and Fred needs to know the future, and what is at stake if she doesn't play the role that Lilith needs her to play.
She does give Fred the mercy of easing her madness first, though.
Commentary: As mentioned several times, I'm finding Lilith to be a much more fascinating character - writing wise - than our protagonist. And I continue to like her standing against her "children", and the care she is showing for Fred.
She has the best writing, thus far. On Fred's use, it's interesting that they've taken her background in physics and turned her into a magic-user, instead while still keeping her keen genius for math. I'll be interested in if there will be a compare/contrast eventually with Willow's budding magic at some points during each series' run.
But, I'm not sure just how much I actually like this Fred. In fact, thinking back, I think Fred was a difficult character to make interesting on the page. Without Amy Acker's performance, Fred often feels kinda flat and "just there". I think it's going to take some special attention from Bryan to develop someone who can hold our attention, so she isn't a prop.
Page 04: Lilith holds Fred's face and intones for her to see the real her. In her demonic form, Lilith tells Fred that darkness can fight evil, too. She instructs Fred that she must help Angel, for he can't do this alone.
Page 05: In the hellscape, Angel has wandered the maze. He comes across the demon he's hunting: A man of raw skin, sitting on a throne of victims he's seduced and destroyed over ages.
Angel suggests he come down from his hill of bodies so they can talk about how he has to destroy the demon. But our sorrow-addict says he'd rather not. He also tells Angel that something is behind him to deal with, anyway.
Page 06: The demon tells Angels that "she's new here" and offers he could try to save her.
Angel gets only the flash of blonde hair, and shouts out Mara's name as he goes off in chase.
Page 07: As Angel runs after Mara, Sorrow-Addict tells Angel that he's seen how she hurts and kills him. He tells Angel to remember her face, as he finally catches the fleeing figure by the shoulder and spins her around.
Page 08: It turns out that the vision is not Mara at all, but Buffy.
She shoves a stake through Angel's chest, though missing the heart. The vision of Buffy burns away. Behind Angel, Sorrow-Addict has walked up and he tells Angel that his future will be sorrow. He offers the vampire joining his throne, where all of the pain he has and will endure can end.
Commentary: Obvs, the Buffy vision is leading us into a multi-issue "Hellmouth Special". And I have to say, I'm a bit annoyed that I'll need to purchase a 3rd overpriced title since the arc will have it's own issues, while also extending through Buffy and Angel's titles.
I'll do it... I'll purchase it, all for you. But, I think it stinks. And it feels like it's way too soon before we've really settled in with these versions of our Legacy Characters. They really should've pushed off Angel and Buffy's meeting for the first 24 issues of BTVS, and then made it an epic, soul-shuddering tale of horror, where none of our characters come out the same.
This just feels like pushing things too fast for a quick buck. But... this is about Angel No.4, so let's get back to it.
Page 09: Sorrow-Addict points out that what was done, is already done. He tells Angel to let him have his children, and the demon can give Angel his very own mini-throne, made up of his own sorrows: Among them Drusilla and Helen.
Page 10: The demon now turns a bit nasty, offering that Angel deserves to be with his failures and asking how he dares to judge our Sorrow-Addict.
Page 11: He tells Angel (whom he continually calls "Redeemer" instead of using his name) that he IS him.
Back at Angel's pad, Lilith isn't liking how distracted Angel has let himself get in their foe's presence. She again taps Fred's skull, and tells her to hold still: 'Angel needs to phone a friend'.
She reaches out to Angel and reminds him that he's falling for illusions and madness, and she thought that she had taught him better than to be pulled in by parlor tricks. She tells Angel to look through the demon's theater, and find his name.
Commentary: I find it an interesting line, that Lilith "taught Angel". Now, either she's speaking metaphorically in that Angel as a vampire would be one of her children or more probably, Lilith has been shepherding Angel's mission for a while now. I'd like to see the flashback tale of how she came to help Angel, and maybe a hint as to her true goals.
I'd also like her to be central to the special Hellmouth arc.
Page 12: Angel breaks out of the grip of his visions. He turns his attention back to confronting Sorrow-Addict.
Page 13: They have a banter-standoff. Sorrow-Addict threatens utter destruction and suffering. Angel returns mocking.
Our Sorrow-Addict is disappointingly easy to goad into shouting his true name in Angel's face, something that now gives the vampire power over him.
Amarkax may've been powerful in human terms, but he's an idiot.
Page 14: Since Angel has his name, Amarkax finds himself under assault by a binding spell, with Angel able to use Lilith's dominion over all demonic beings as a powerful magical-chant component.
Commentary: Honestly, it's all pretty anti-climactic. I was disappointed in this confrontation.
Page 15: Amarkax the Sorrow-Addict, Pain-Bringer, and Dullard is rendered excorcised from the mortal world. His electronic tether to Earth is cut off.
Page 16: Being returned back from the hellscape, Angel complains about the trip back and forth being worse than the actual hell dimension. He complains about how much it hurts, what with his skin red with burn marks from the transition.
Page 17: Fred is there to confirm that Amarkax is defeated, and Angel specifies that he's only been bound and will be free in a thousand years. Fred assures him that he'll be there to bind him again.
Angel observes that Fred looks and sounds better, and she tells him that Lilith was able to restore most of her sanity to her.
He asks after her, and Fred points out the obvious: She left. But she also tells Angel that Lilith needs him to unite a group of heroes.
Page 18: Fred tells Angel that she was one of the people he needed to save and bring together. Now, he has another who must be saved. Angel is understandably a little behind, and asks for clarification on what and who and a bit of why.
Fred tells Angel that the group is being hunted: The Warrior, The Sorceress, The Watcher & The Slayer.
The mention of a Slayer surprises Angel. Fred tells him that The Source of All Darkness has forseen their help in destroying this Darkness with him.
Commentary: I like this idea - of forcing Angel to draw a team around him, when he has resisted this. And especially in the wake of Helen's death so recently. And I'm interested in who "The Warrior" could be: Not Buffy, she's the Slayer. But it could be Xander, now that he's half-vampire or it could be Mara, returned.
I'm also wondering if "The Sorceress" is Fred, herself, or was she referring to Willow...?
Page 19: Ah! The Warrior.
Fred tells Angel that he needs to find and save The Warrior, as he won't survive alone. We see in a different place, a man fighting one on one with a vampire.
Lilith told Fred that they'll need a weapon...
Page 20: ... "a Gunn".
We see Charles Gunn finish off his vampire opponent, surprisingly not with a stake, but with an absurdly sharp blade, which manages to both slice off the vampire's head in one swipe and let's Gunn pose with a determined, hard grimace on his face!
Commentary: And I welcome Gunn's introduction into the BOOM!Verse. And it just occurred to me, that maybe The Watcher won't be Rupert, but will be Wesley's introduction?
The Good: Lilith. Lilith's care for Fred, even as she pushes her to do what she wants/needs from her.
I liked the dialog from Amarkax to Angel during their confrontations. Included in this was the foreshadowing of Angel's upcoming meeting with the Vampire Slayer and his battle with Dru over the Hellmouth [surely, this upcoming arc is going to be Dru's plot].
The Bad: Nothing really.
Other Thoughts: The battle with our Sorrow-Addict was really a letdown, mostly because it depended so heavily on his quick defeat by foolishly blabbing his name in Angel's face. After so much care to remain anonymous behind disguises, this felt like really clunky writing.
The Score: I found myself searching for commentary on this issue. Everything was ... fine. But nothing really stood out, except the last few pages letting us know that Gunn was coming. And what should've been the meat of the plot - the fight to stop our Sorrow-Addict - ended up being too quickly resolved.
3.25 out of 5 stars