Writer: Bryan Edward Hill, Artwork: Gleb Melnikov & Roman Titov, Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Scott Buoncristiano
I don't understand this cover. This looks more like it should've been used when we were dealing with the ugly demon convincing young people to destroy their own faces.
Page 01: We open on a monologue of someone unseen, speaking to Fred. He/She/It offers that the city before them is a candle, and Fred is the flame.
Blood rains from the skies. It asks of Winifred Burkle if she can see the Mother of Eternity. It offers that she can see...
Page 02: ... herself, as she will be.
It is Baphomet who speaks, and in this vision, Fred stands before him summoning the red rain of ruin down upon his worshippers. He promises her that soon she will fulfill the vision.
Commentary: I do like what Boom!Buffyverse is doing with this version of Fred. She's far more tied to mysticism than physics, and I like that she's more integral to various mechanations afoot. Her backstory, I think, is more interesting than Fred's introduction in prime-Angel.
And she's much more interesting than her prime-counterpart in the comics.
Page 03: Fred wakes with a horrified shout, to find a woman sitting with her. This woman tells Fred that sometimes Baphomet shares visions with them. She then assures Fred that she's safe and to just breathe a moment.
Fred demands to know where she is, and the woman offers that she's among friends.
Page 04: Fred is being ferried in a luxury helicoptor. The woman introduces herself as Lilah Morgan. She tells Fred that it is her pleasure to finally meet her, as He loves her most.
Page 05: Elsewhere, Gunn is bitching about the chase with Spike costing him Fred's now missing. They bicker, until a voice from off-panel shouts over them.
Page 06: It's Lilith. She asks them, in that way where it isn't asking, to focus on the problem. She tells our boys that Fred is incredibly important and must be retrieved.
Due to the pressure Lilith feels to get Fred back, she's also rather impatient with backtalk, crosstalk and snippy attitudes.
Commentary: I know that I was all, "I love Lilith!", but that was when I thought she was going to be used sparingly. Now, she's showing up way too often, and we don't yet have some sort of explanation for why she does what she does when, and at other times, like now, she apparently can't intervene directly in other things.
I like her, still. I just want less of her Demi-Godding around, while also not just going to Lilah Morgan's pad and telling her to release Fred or else. She's been presented as too powerful for this advice only role when she's cowling both Angel and Spike with nothing more than an irritated tone of voice.
Page 07: Anyway, Lilith tells the two they need to get serious as the Hellmouth has been opened and the world is in a slow freefall. She tells them that Angel is trying to deal with the immediate crisis, but she needs them to go in and get Fred back.
Charles brings up Lilith doing it herself, but apparently being "immemorial" means that she can't take direct intervention in saving humanity. That'll be up to he and Spike.
She tells them what they face though, as the Cultists of Baphomet believe Fred will be the vessel for him to manifest.
Spike points out that Baphomet is just a figment of the Templars, that rich people use as a totem and fashion accessory.
But Lilith informs him that after generations of desire and will and belief, he has become. She gets close to Spike's face and stares him down. She tells him that he is going to do something right, for a change.
Page 08: Lilith has a poor opinion of Spike, both due to his habit of drowning in self-pity, and his not listening to her before when she warned him in a dream about Drusilla - back when he was a poet she had a soft spot for.
She tells Charles that she still believes in him. But, alas, Lilith doesn't know where Fred has been taken. For that, they're going to need to... sing?
Commentary: Hmmm. I kinda like all of the evil knowing Lilith well, and kinda feel like it's too much of a shortcut to ensure that she gets her way in all things. I fear her being the deus ex machina that data dumps everytime the writer(s) can't come up with a solution to something they've set up.
But it's early in the series, so maybe after this Hellmouth crossover she'll either be less present, or she'll run into more trouble with just telling everybody what they need to know about whatever the presented threats are.
It's going to be delicate to have somebody this BIG as an ongoing character popping in.
Page 09: Elsewhere, in a penthouse, Lilah tells Fred that the reason so few people control the wealth over so many is that it is the way the gods want it. She hands Fred a glass of brandy over a thousand years old.
Fred suspects a drug, but Lilah tells her that she doesn't poison people. But, she did bring her there to tell her some things that she's going to find unpleasant, but assures her that it is the truth she'll share.
Page 10: Lilah tells Fred that she's aware of her history, including her stay in the asylum, and offers that it was their pleasure to help her escape that place. When Fred denies her help, and points out Angel saved her, Lilah counters that it only occurred because they allowed it.
Ms. Morgan goes on to claim that the organization she belongs to is the only power in the world and that they manipulate everything that happens, including Angel.
Fred demands to know who she really is, and Lilah tells her that they're custodians of the world and that she and her organization want Fred to have everything that she's ever desired.
Commentary: I'm having some issues with this Lilah. Not her backstory, or that she's trying to help Baphomet as a true believer, or anything about how she's written. But, I do wonder at her race-change. I wonder if they didn't have the rights or the desire to pay for Stephanie Romanov's likeness. It's fine, but I didn't recognize her as being Lilah Morgan, and the fact that she's SO different makes her introduction fall flat.
I don't understand, actually, why this character needed to be Lilah Morgan - except she's an Angel character, and nobody can be left out, apparently.
Page 11: Fred tells Lilah she desires to leave, and offers that Ms. Morgan can keep the coptor - she'll just walk.
Lilah tells her she's free to leave at any time. But also tells Fred that if she does, she'll never come to understand what she is, and why she can do the things she can do.
Ms. Morgan plays on Fred's feelings of difference from those around her. She then asks Fred to describe what she was feeling when she helped Angel dimension shift. Fred admits to feeling good, like she was made out of light.
This opens the door for Lilah to tell her that she can help her understand her connection to magick, and can show her how much more she can do.
Page 12: Elsewhere, Gunn is gobsmacked by the green demon on a stage singing. He asks Spike if this place is actually real, which Spike half-confirms, though this is the first time Spike has seen it in person. The club is filled with demons, and Spike tells Charles that even the nightmares need to blow off steam once in a while.
A hostess intercepts the two, and directs them to follow her to Lorne's office, as he's been expecting them.
Page 13: In Lorne's office, he introduces himself as having been contacted by Lilith to help them find the missing Fred.
But, before he can do so, he must know their nature and that means that they'll need to sing for him.
Page 14: Lorne explains that singing creates a window to the soul - even to a vampire's misplaced one - that will allow him to assess whether they should be helped. Lorne offers that he doesn't help those whose purpose is destruction - and apparently not even Lilith herself can force Lorne to help those that he isn't sure about.
Charles offers a rap, which is enough for Lorne to judge him worth. But Spike is a question mark, and Lorne tells him that he'll need a bit more from him to be sure.
Commentary: Again, I like that Lorne is being given a different introduction - having nothing to do with meeting Angel, yet and not being set up to be intimately involved in Angel's mission. But it is really feeling like we're front loading all of the familiar characters in this rapid fire way.
I'm not enamoured with everybody we already know being thrown in just because.
Page 15: Back at the penthouse, Lilah is showing off a painting of Angelus to Fred. She calls Angel a danger to Fred, and warns that he can't help his true nature, which is why he takes pains to hide his true self from her.
But she, Lilah, has nothing to hide. Fred doubts her on that point.
Page 16: Fred sizes up Lilah as the salesperson to make the pitch for whatever they want to use her for, but Lilah prefers to call herself the closer. She tells Fred that she was born for a purpose -- to build a bridge to allow Baphomet's arrival, where he can free them all of guilt and conscience and weakness.
With Lilah having asked Fred before what she wanted, now Fred turns the question back on her. Lilah claims to only want to serve her.
Page 17: Lilah informs Fred that she knows that she knew the words in the books she perused in the libraries before she ever opened them, because they spoke to her. She knows that she never felt alone, because she's never been alone. And she knows about Fred's habit of acting meek, like a rabbit in a forest, but Lilah knows that she's actually the fox.
She tells Fred that magick is permission to act on desire.
Commentary: I really like the line, "Magick is permission". That is the best summation I've ever read for magic in the Buffyverse, and ties so perfectly into Willow's progression during the BTVS-tv show. It's a false temptation, of course, as Willow had to find out, but it's also a base truth to lead the unwary astray... love the sentiment of this line.
Page 18: While in Lorne's club, Spike is belting out a heartfelt rock ballad, no doubt directed at Dru, Lilah continues to play on Fred's sense of her own self. She tells Fred that she doesn't have to be afraid of herself, and she won't face any judgements with her.
She gives Fred permission to stop acting "good". Getting teary, Fred admits that she doesn't think that she is a good person, deep down.
Page 19: At Lorne's, Spike gets a round of applause as Lorne made him sing to the crowd from the stage. Lorne then whispers into Spike's ear that Fred is being held up the coast from them, in a glass house full of lies. He warns Spike that he'll need to travel fast: Fred is already listening to the liars.
Commentary: Of course, they wouldn't be cutting it so close if you hadn't wasted time, Lorne. Y'know, if Lilith asks you to do something, just do it in future. She isn't just panicking unnecessarily.
Page 20: At the penthouse, Lilah reveals a statue of Baphomet. She introduces herself as representing Wolfram & Hart, and that they can represent her interests in the world.
The Good: I enjoyed Charles' and Spike's sniping at one another.
I did like Lilah's entire presentation to the skeptical Fred, and of course clearly I loved the "Magick is permission" line used to seduce Fred into dropping her reservations enough to listen.
I like the painting of Angelus, due to the hooded figures included. I wonder if they're also Baphomet's followers, and if Wolf, Ram & Hart was involved in the vampire's affairs at some point. It would be interesting if Lilah is warning Fred of Angel's betrayal, because it is in Angelus' nature - and something that their firm knows first hand.
The Bad: I don't have anything bad here.
Other Thoughts: Lilith. Hmmm. Overused? Not quite, but pushing it? Fine the way she's popping in and out? I'm not sure.
What is the deal with Lilah Morgan's radical redesign?
I didn't really like Lorne's inclusion. It's not in the bad, but it felt like more of a diversion, than a necessary element to the story. And it felt to me like the cutaways back to his club were getting in the way of the more interesting seduction of Fred by Lilah's spiel.
The Score: 3.75 out of 5 stars