Boom!Angel + Spike
Writer: Bryan Edward Hill, Artwork: Gleb Melnikov & Roman Titov, Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Dan Panosian
Page 01: We open with Lilith sitting across from Angel at his home. She asks him if the detective with the pretty hair, Kate, doesn't remind him of someone. Angel denies this, but also points out that her asking him that means that Kate obviously reminds her of someone.
Lilith urges him to think about it, pointing out Kate's traits of determined anger and a penchant for self-destruction. She tells Angel that history is a cycle that repeats. Angel intuits that she's talking about Mara.
Page 02: In voiceover Lilith tells Angel that this time, he can save her...
In the meantime, Gunn and Fred are still at Kate's home, where she is spewing green gas. The same gas that Kate saw earlier when her street contact, and boy she tried to help, was engulfed in flames soon after.
Page 03: Suddenly freind hears a strong voice telling her that he can save Lockley, if Fred will allow it to do so through her.
Fred gets a power-up, and glows. But when Charles calls her name in concern, a different voice says, 'no'. Fred's eyes have gone complete white, and addresses Gunn as 'boy'.
Page 04: Fred's fingertips touch Kate's face, and a voice commands the presence infecting Kate to depart. Fred levitates, and a power burst tosses furniture and Kate off of her feet.
Commentary: I wasn't sure if this was more Lilith interference, but I did suspect it may be Baphomet, and that W & H still has some sort of hooks in her from her brief stay with them.
Page 05: Fred gets up off her back from the floor, where she was left in a pile. Gunn asks her for details on what just happened, but Fred claims she doesn't know but she's fine, now. They check on Kate, who is not-all-that-fine, what with so many unnatural occurrances piling up on her in such a short time.
She yells at them to tell her WHAT the hell they are.
Commentary: It's a small thing, but I liked that Kate shouts what they are, rather than who they are in this circumstance.
Page 06: Back at W & H, Lilah is sitting in a circle of candles. She tells others in the room that Fred is still connected to their master, and the vessel has not yet been lost. They doubt her, but she shares that Baphomet has just shared a sense of satisfaction with her. Lilah tells them that "their midnight" approaches, and they should prepare.
So Baphomet was the power to save Kate, in order to forge a stronger connection with Fred.
Commentary: So. I'm not sure if this is a problem for me or not. I thought it was, and I had this whole paragraph typed out about how Lilith isn't warning anyone about Baphomet forging a stronger link with Fred, that could bite them all in the ass later. But on thinking it through, I'm not sure that it is the storytelling issue that I presumed it was at first.
See, my issue with Lilith - as I've explained before - is that she's a data-dump of information in order to guide Angel into solving problems and saving people. The reason why the 'mother of demons' can't spank her own children is an unsettled question -- especially since she has such power, that Spike and Angel themselves won't risk challenging her when she gets her back up. So... the question remains why she isn't able to tell any demon on Earth to cool it or else, and that's that [except the meta-reasoning that there would be no Angel title].
I can sorta-justify this with some circumstantial evidence: Lilith seems either loathe, or just unable, to directly take action under normal circumstance against other demons. This may be due to the fact that the demons she's sent Angel to fight thus far, all seem to exist in other-realms primarily [I'm pretty sure --- I should go back and double check, but you'll point out examples I've forgotten] and travel to/from Earth. This may mean that they're either not her children, or that her direct influence is limited to those who are more tied to Earth, like vampires... her children who are anchored to Earth in some way, which could also imply that she herself is anchored to Earth. This could also imply that her knowledge of things, like Baphomet, who hasn't had a physical presence on Earth, yet, is also limited.
There could also be a cosmic reason for why Lilith is all-talk, for the most part, and depends on intermediaries to work on her behalf. Perhaps as a punishment for releasing the demons onto humanity, she now has to watch the death they inflict in her name, even though she would have them all banished if only she could? Or Lilith's 'motherhood of demons' is an analogy of our parenthood. Your parents have control of you as children, but as you grow up, you rebel against them to one extent or another, in order to forge your own identity separate from them. It's possible that Lilith is in the same boat, in that her children are unruly and don't always listen to her when she's warning them to stop what they're doing. And due to some as-yet-unexplained reason, she can't simply destroy/banish them herself, but has to send a champion to do so on her behalf.
But all of this is speculation on my part, in trying to make sense of what I perceive as weak writing, when it comes to Lilith popping into and out of the narrative, and I could be way offbase in trying to justify the way she's being used.
Page 07: Sometime later, Kate is having a cup of coffee while watching Fred and Charles leave. She muses on kids fighting monsters, and doing so at a vampire's side.
In the meantime, Gunn is asking Fred about what just happened. Fred tells him that she's still connected to whatever it was that Lilah forced her to see, and that it was this otherworldly thing that saved Kate.
Page 08: This leaves Fred worried that she is somehow fulfilling a destiny to be evil, and that is why Baphomet was able to work through her. Gunn tries to shoot down this theory, offering that Spike and Angel can help against whatever is going on, but Fred offers her doubts that she can be saved. She does tell Gunn though that when she was channeling against their demonic foe, she was able to see him, and that he isn't done with the killing and has to be their focus.
She sends Gunn back to Kate's to ask her to accompany them to Angel's for her safety. But she has something else to do, which she won't divulge, to Charles' worry.
Page 09: Lilith, meanwhile, continues to prod Angel that he can save Kate, where he didn't save Mara. He calls her cruel for poking that old wound, but she denies that she's ever cruel. She tells him that she's only trying to warn him that he's splitting focus between trying to redeem the past, or saving someone else's future. He cannot do both, and must make his choice.
Angel is left confused regarding the link between Kate and Mara, but Lilith isn't willing or able to divulge more that she has shared.
Page 10: Fred has phoned up Lilah Morgan, and had her meet her at a church. Lilah express that she's glad Fred called, but that the hypocrisy of the Church irritates her. Fred tells her that people go to a church to feel a sense of safety and being loved, and she doesn't feel either of these things, right now.
Lilah assures Fred that she is loved, and by a power that is greater than that which the people sitting in places such as this one look to.
She turns attention though to why Fred called her.
Page 11: Fred insists that Lilah tell her the truth, not whatever the line is that Wolfram & Hart wants her to share. Lilah responds that she'll always get only the truth from her.
Fred offers that the power she has is evil, but Lilah counters that she doesn't like the word. She offers that concepts like demons and angels, this versus that, are all just words. She tells Fred that she's free to choose what she'll become, but that she has been chosen by Baphomet to be greater. Fred tells her about Baphomet saving someone through her, and Lilah points out that he shared this information with her already. She tells Fred that she can explain a great many things about what Baphomet wants and how she plays such an important role in it, if she's willing to listen.
Commentary: I like that this is so complicated for Fred. She's not immediately fighting against Baphomet, and I like that the tactic being worked here is seduction, rather than force by Lilah on his behalf. I also like the argument that 'good' and 'evil' are only concepts that people name, even though clearly I have to disagree when it comes to extremes. But I like that Fred isn't being presented as a Paragon of Virtue, and Lilah isn't twirling her metaphorical mustache.
I like the chemistry between the two characters as written and being developed by Bryan.
Page 12: Lilah puts her hand over Fred's and tells her that Angel is going to lose the battle against the demon her friends are facing. She shares that this demon lives off of life energy, and it can't be harmed on the physical plain.
She tells Fred that she has the power within her to save lives and to kill the demon threatening Kate, but she has to be open to learning about what she is, and what she can do. Lilah asks her what could be evil in stopping the thing that they're fighting.
Page 13: In the meantime, Angel is reflecting on his history with Mara. Angel gives a short history about how Mara had been a protector, but he re-made her into a predator. Over Kate's face, he sees a reflection of Mara.
Kate asks him why he's telling her this.
Page 14: Angel tells her that it matters to her, but Kate waves this aside as irrelevant [since Lilith hasn't shared anything with her, it's understandable that she's flummoxed by Angel's sharing this]. She points out that what she's caring about right now, is not being burned alive, and holding onto her sanity in the meantime.
Angel offers to her that if he could tell her to go home and forget everything that happened, he would. But he warns her that now that she has been touched by the supernatural, she'll always be a part of it. She says, "Fair enough", and then goes on to ask what they do next.
She's told that she isn't safe, yet, and that she'll need to stay with them until they can find a way to locate and destroy the demon. Kate makes it clear that she's not hiding from this, and she intends to be fighting on the front line.
Page 15: Kate insists to Angel that she's fighting to save herself, and he can help her do that or not, but she's not the damsel to be rescued. She tells him that she's not going to be afraid, but angry and she's going to use that anger to win. Angel tells her that fear and anger are the same thing.
While he talks to Kate, he has another flash of Mara sitting in her place. She asks Angelus who made him so weak, and what his intentions toward her are. In the present, Kate repeats her question as to what he's going to do. His reply is that he's going to fight evil with evil.
Page 16: In the meantime, Lilah is describing Hell to Fred, which she presents as a place of purity and clarity. She tells Fred that the denizens of hell are unburdened by conscience and are entirely dedicated without conflict to their natures. She offers Fred that same type of clarity.
Page 17: Lilah enthuses on how fortunate Fred is to have Baphomet's love. Fred asks about the demon they're facing, and Lilah tells her that she'll have to go to hell to stop it.
After a moment of silence, Fred asks her if she'll come back from it.
Page 18: She's told that she will, but not the same as she is now. Lilah asks her if she'd really want to -- being led around by a confused vampire? Fred is told that she can stop all of the evil in the world, because all evil serves him, and He loves her. Fred asks for instructions, and Lilah gives her a glowing dagger. She tells her that she'll just need a little blood and all of her willpower.
Commentary: I find the dynamic between Lilith-Fred-Baphomet interesting, since both Lilith and Baphomet are basically playing the same game with Fred - telling her that she's special, and that she can save people. Both could also be considered 'evil', even if Lilith is currently helping them against the demonic. I also really like Lilah's true-blue believer status, rather than the cynical person she was in Angel the Series. It's an interesting and different spin on her character that I'm enjoying.
What I'm not liking so much is Fred's apparently being led so easily down the primrose path. I'm hoping to see her revealing everything Lilah told her to Angel for advice and a plan, rather than going rogue on Lilah's say-so but we'll have to see how she handles this information, I guess.
Page 19: Back at Angel's, he hitting the bag in the basement, where Spike finds him. He teases Angel over punishing himself for the sexual tension between him and the cop, but reports that he found something.
Spike is holding a book, which he insists that Angel not ask about where it came from or how Spike got it. He's found the information that Lilah shared with Fred about the demon they're hunting. Angel asks how they kill it, and Spike tells him it's the usual: Trick it into possessing somebody, and then kill that somebody while he's in residence. Angel shoots down that plan, naturally.
Page 20: In the meantime, Kate is interrupted during her sleep in Angel's guestroom. Her visitor is Gunn, except not. He's possessed by their Feeder demon, and is holding an axe above his head. He tells Kate that the lord of demons isn't there to protect her now and tells her they can return to their screams....
Commentary: That's a great page, and a great place to leave us. Really liked this image and dialog.
The Good: I am really being taken by the chemistry between Fred and Lilah, and their dialog scenes.
I also like the way that Kate is being handled, and I think she's starting out in a far stronger position as a character than on Angel the Series, and the subsequent, earlier comic versions of her.
I like the background detail of having Lilith referred to as Mother of Demons, and having Baphomet juxtaposed against her as the Lord of Demons. It'd be nice if this is expanded on more.
The Bad: Nothing stuck in my craw.
Other Thoughts: I'm not really buying this link between Kate and Mara, unless there is going to be a reincarnation revealed. I feel like there is a stretch just to make Mara's earlier appearances less random, but I'd question whether Kate was originally supposed to have anything to do with it.
I'm not crazy about the way Fred's seduction to the dark side is being handled... it feels too easy for Team Baphomet, unless Fred winds up playing them.
I'm also not crazy about Charles apparently not telling Angel and Spike immediately about his worries over Fred the second he got Kate back to Angel's place. That should definitely have been a page.
3.50 out of 5 stars