Writer: Bryan Edward Hill, Artwork: Gleb Melnikov & Roman Titov, Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Dan Panosian
Page 01: We open on a review of Fred's difficult life from childhood through adolescence, where she has always been seen as weird, and mentally unstable.
Lila tells her that she's always been told what she should be. But that is over now. The time has come for her to tell the world what she is.
Page 02: Lila points to the statue of Baphomet. She urges Fred to speak to him. Lila tells her that with the Hellmouth open, it's his time, and hers.
Page 03: In the meantime, Gunn and Spike have returned from Lorne's to Angel's in order to grab up some weaponry. Gunn questions how Spike can just come into Angel's pad, and Spike tells him that Angel invited him in once in order to tell him to get out and never come back.
Spike then, explaining he doesn't want to search for a key, punches a hole in Angel's living room floor to access a basement.
He smiles at seeing Angel's stash.
Page 04: Spike leads Gunn down into Angel's secret basement, where the vampire has collected the weaponry that he once used as Angelus. Spike tells Charles to only grab weapons he actually knows how to use.
Commentary: Almost immediately, I am liking Spike and Charles as the odd couple. Suddenly, I want to forget the flirtations between Spike and Cordelia.
Page 05: On a mannequin, is a mask that catches Gunn's interest, but Spike suggests leaving that one alone. He goes on to tell Gunn that Angel wasn't always a good guy. But he refuses to go into details, as it's Angel's story to tell another time.
He spots Charles picking up a pair of nunchaku. He tells him to stop pretending he actually knows how to use those.
Page 06: Spike and Charles continue small talk as they rummage about in Angel's hidden stuff. Charles asks Spike what it's like to kill.
Page 07: Spike is brought up short by the question, but Gunn tells him he really wants to know.
Spike blows it off as not meaning anything. The universe itself doesn't care about killing and dying. Life and love is cheap, and we try to make ourselves more civilized than we are by pretending that not killing each other matters, because we seek control.
It's a bleak message to hear, and Gunn isn't exactly glad to hear Spike's opinion after all.
The vampire urges him to get a move on, so they can go after Fred.
Page 08: Charles' question is really about his plans to kill the vampire that killed his childhood friend. But when he starts to bring up the vampire's identity that Lilith told him Spike could identify, Spike hushes him.
He asks if Charles hears that, but Gunn hasn't heard anything unusual.
Spike shoves Charles violently into a corner of the room, just as a gunshot perforates his hand.
Page 09: Suddenly Angel's home is riddled with machine gun fire, filling Spike full of lead, to Gunn's horror.
Commentary: Oh. Yes, yes, I am definitely into the Spike/Charles chemistry.
Page 10: Spike collapses to his knees, and tells Charles to stay down where he is.
As Spike urges Gunn to hide, his hand morphs into a claw.
Page 11: The assassins invade Angel's home to make sure the job was done right, and meet Spike in butchery mode.
He makes quick work of the humans sent against them.
Page 12: Charles comes out after the assassins are dead, but Spike tells him he needs a minute to get himself back under control.
Spike is covered in blood. Charles stands staring at him with a stake at the ready. He's urged to put the poker away, as he's looking like a threat.
Page 13: Gunn looks at the bodies lying on the floor, as Spike guesses that they've just met Wolfram & Hart. Again.
Spike offers that they may've come to stop Angel, which means they know more about what is going on and they know about their organization. He urges Charles to help him with the mess.
Commentary: I liked all of these pages. I liked Spike's dialog. I liked how the counter-attack of Spike was handled artwork wise. I'm just liking everything going on here.
Page 14: In the meantime, at the penthouse, Lila has slipped out of the room and locked Fred in. Something that Fred is not happy about. As she pounds on the door and demands that Lila let her out of the room, Lila continues to urge Fred to talk to the statue of Baphomet.
Behind her, Fred hears the voice of Baphomet speaking from the statue. He commands her to speak to him.
Commentary: Again, there is some great artwork here, with the use of red and black, and shadow. It really hightens the tension of Fred's predicament.
Page 15: Back at Angel's, Spike and Gunn have carried the bodies of their attackers out into the nearby woods. Spike admits that he's rusty when it comes to magick, but he casts a summoning spell.
From the dark, corpse eaters appear to clean up the assassin's remains for them.
Commentary: I'm not really sure what the point of this was, however. Why Spike, as a character, would give two craps about cleaning up Angel's place, or go out of his way to clear up doesn't make sense to me. And we don't get any lines of dialog to explain what benefit he thinks they're getting by proper disposal of the bodies.
And it isn't like this is going to take care of the bullet holes riddling Angel's house, or all of the blood all over the furniture and carpet.
The more I think about it, the more silly this scene comes out as. I'm also displeased by how little impact Spike's bullet riddled body is having on him. He could've at least told Gunn that they had to wait a bit to go after Winifred, until he gorged on blood to super-charge his healing.
I mean, obvs the bullets weren't going to kill him outright, but surely the lethal spray was meant to have disabled Angel enough to then take care of him with a stake. So, it should've disabled Spike in the same way. I don't think W&H would be foolish enough to attempt a sort of attack that wasn't going to have any impact at all.
Page 16: When Spike and Gunn load up to take the fight to the penthouse, using the assassins' sports car for transport, Gunn asks Spike if he can trust him.
Spike admits that he can't. But he does say that he isn't going to try to kill him.
Charles asks if Angel can do the things that he just saw Spike do, and Spike admits that Angel can do more.
Page 17: When Spike and Charles drive up to the penthouse, Gunn points out that there aren't any guards at the gate, and the front door is wide open for them.
Both of them say, "Trap" at the same time.
But then Spike says that he can smell fresh blood. He warns Gunn that he should be prepared for bad news. Gunn replies that Fred is alive.
Page 18: When they enter the foyer of the building, they walk in on a scene of slaughter. Bloody bodies are strewn about the place.
They also find Fred, and she is alive. But she's covered in blood.
She claims no memory of what happened, but the blood covering her hands makes it appear that she killed all of the W & H men. Of Lila, there is no trace, and Fred says that she thinks she ran for it when whatever happened started.
Commentary: Okay, that was an interesting twist. I didn't see the big rescue attempt actually being unneeded, but I do have to wonder how Baphomet's interaction with Fred could've resulted in this mess. I hope that won't be a hanging thread for too long.
Page 19: Fred throws herself into Gunn's arms, and sobs that she spoke to Him. Gunn tries to comfort her that they're going to get her out of there.
Spike takes a look around and offers that they're a lot more interesting than anything happening with Dru, and wonders if he shouldn't stay in L.A. for awhile.
Page 20: As the trio get out of there, Gunn asks Spike if he thinks Angel is going to make it back from the Hellmouth business. Spike suggests that he and Fred get ready for a world where he doesn't.
Charles asks if Spike thinks that means he should be in charge, and the vampire answers that W & H isn't done with any of them. As far as he's concerned, saving Los Angeles from the evil firm of Baphomet cultists is up to them.
The Good: First, I liked the opening montage of Fred's development and her ending up in an institute because she was too different for everyone around her.
I liked just about everything that involves Spike and Charles working together; Especially Spike's being so honest, without being a prick, to Charles' every question.
I also liked that Angel has kept a hidden stash of Angelus' weapons and armor. It's disturbing that he'd keep these keepsakes, but I welcome it, anyway. It's tying back into what we've seen of Angel before the Hellmouth event interrupted, and that we'll certainly be getting back to with Mara.
Spike's saving Gunn. And Gunn's concern for him in return. I love the chemistry I'm getting between these two.
The twist of Spike and Gunn's rescue walking in on Fred in the middle of the bad guy's having been slaughtered was an interesting twist.
The Bad: Nuthin'
Other Thoughts: I do have some niggling issues with the pages wasted trying to clean up the assassins' mess at Angel's place, when getting to Fred is supposed to be so important. It seemed both silly, and ultimately, meaningless.
I am only slightly annoyed that Lila just "ran away" off panel. In fact, despite the twist, having the slaughter at the penthouse happen entirely off panel is a little annoying. I'm hoping Fred will remember it at some point, so we'll see just what happened in flashback. Or maybe, they can use Lila reporting to somebody as the beginning of a flashback. I want to know what happened, and was this under Baphomet's direction, or did this take him by surprise?
The Score: I enjoyed this one, especially for the interactions between Spike and Charles.
4.0 out of 5 stars