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Angel: After the Fall #1 ... REVIEW

Angel: After the Fall #1


Plotting By: Joss Whedon & Brian Lynch, Scripting By: Brian Lynch, Illustration: Franco Urru, Coloring: Ilaria Traversi, Lettering: Robbie Robins, Editing: Chris Ryall


Cover Art: Tony Harris



Set Up: In the series ending episode of Angel, Not Fade Away, the Angel Investigations team was in some serious trouble. Angel and his allies managed to bring down an ultra-powerful group of evil known as the Black Thorn. Basically, they were the demonic version of the Hall of Doom.


Wolf, Ram & Hart were not at all pleased by this turn of events. Angel played them, signing away his right to Shanshu (become mortal as reward for his redemptive deeds) in order to get in close with the Black Thorn group. By doing so, he was able to identify their members who were responsible for much of the evil at the highest levels of government among the elite of L.A.


Now, in retaliation, the power behind the evil law firm of Wolfram & Hart has pulled all of Los Angeles into Hell itself. A new world order has asserted itself, locking the city and its inhabitants away from the rest of the world and leaving them vulnerable to the legions of devils, demons, and exotic Hellspawn.



Page 1: Appropriately, we start with Angel. He’s busy at the moment fighting a cadre of demons who are running wild throughout L.A. Right now, they’re attempting to snack on a group of refugees. Naturally, the fighting doesn’t get in the way of Angel’s monologue (-smile-):


It all started with a girl. (It’s not who you think.) I joined a corporation that was, quite literally, evil incarnate. I thought I could channel their resources into something positive. In an existence defined by bad choices, that was the worst. I didn’t change them. They changed me. Then they killed her (leading me to surmise this isn’t about Buffy, but Fred). That opened my eyes. I took a stand.



Page 2: Angel is tackled to the ground and three of the demons are standing over him, big and evil grins on their faces. Until they find a surprise! (see below)

  Angel's secret weapon.



Page 3: Angel speaks to one of the save-ees. He gives her the address where she can find help, a car to get there… and an ax. He plays the mysterious hero, hops on his transport and flies away.


He lets us know, via more monologue, that this has been going on for a few months now.



Page 4 & 5: We have a splash page here. It’s here that we’re told that Wolfram and Hart sent Los Angeles to Hell. Angel is riding his dragon over downtown L.A., and in the background we see that the buildings all have tentacles coming from them. Some are burning and smoking. From one pile of rubble, there’s a large toothed maw coming from the ground. From the top of another building, it appears that the roof has actually grown a large toothed mouth. It’s beautiful artwork, and I wish I could scan both pages, but the book spine is in the way. This, by the way, is clearly (from Angel’s monologue) the dragon that he wanted to fight in the ending scene of Not Fade Away.



Page 6: On his way back to his base, Wolfram and Hart’s legal building, Angel tells us what has happened. Little time passed before the human population figured out they weren’t just stuck in a temporary nightmare. It was about the same amount of time before the demons realized they were home. They immediately took charge, the Lords of Hell carving up Los Angeles into fiefdoms between them. He goes out ‘night after night’, although that term has little meaning, we’ll find out later (and if you read my Spike: After the Fall review, you’ll know that day and night have mixed here).



Page 7: After Angel sends his dragon down to the garage, he discovers he’s had some callers. In his words:


Burge. Lord of downtown L.A. And his son. Moron offspring of the Lord of downtown L.A.


Again, Angel seems outclassed (there is actually a good reason for this, too, but we don’t learn why he keeps getting his ass kicked here). And, again, the artwork is excellent in this issue – I especially like the close up of Burge’s ‘moron’ son. Especially charming, is the droopy saliva dripping against Angel’s chin… eww.

  Drool is always charming.



Page 8: Angel’s getting his butt kicked is interrupted by another visitor. The new visitor is a familiar man with dark hair and glasses (except as first, I didn’t recognize him… the artwork doesn’t look much like Wes). Wes’ fate is disturbing. He is “the last official representative of this branch of Wolfram & Hart”.


Apparently, his contract has enslaved Wesley upon his death, as it did Lila.



Page 9: Wes is able to talk down Burge, if not is dim-witted son. We also get a hint that Wolfram & Hart still do not want Angel dead. Wes makes this clear to Burge in this exchange:


I can also assure you, Angel’s fate isn’t up to you. We kept him around, even after a fairly alarming indiscretion. So I’m thinking you should tell your steroid-ridden hellspawn to step down before he kills Angel and ruins things for the rest of us.



Page 10: Burge’s son isn’t willing to let it go, and tries to take his anger out against Wesley. When he goes to claw him however, he finds his hand passing right through him. Wes is still dead (see AtS: Not Fade Away), but is being kept around to serve as Wolfram & Hart’s voice… as a ghost.



Page 11: Wes isn’t fully on board the demon train, however, as he expresses some sympathy for Angel’s mission to save whom he can. We cut away from Angel and Wes to follow the save-ees from a few pages back.



Page 12: The humans arrive at some sort of building with other humans and a few demons are seeking refuge. We’re re-introduced to Gwen, the electric girl from AtS.



Page 13: In addition to Gwen, we see that Nina, the Werewolf woman is also doing her part to try to protect the humans that Angel has helped. We learn here that the day/night dichotomy of regular Earth no longer applies. Nina is particularly affected as she not only sniffs one of the save-ees, but then licks her cheek!


(Nina to woman she just licked): Did I?


(the Woman): She’s tenderizing me, she’s tenderizing me, she’s tenderizing me…


(Nina): No! It’s the sun/moon situation! They’re both out at once. do you have any idea what that does to a werewolf?


(Woman): Make you hungry?!


(Nina): No!


(Woman): Makes you bi-curious?!


Now, far be it from me to point out an inconvenient fact, when it sets up such a humorous back and forth, but I’ve seen the moon and sun out at the same time here in Michigan. It may not have been 24/7, but it does happen in the mornings. Does Nina freak every time this occurs… I suspect it’s the Hell/24 hours a day thing that is actually causing the issue.



Page 14: In addition to Gwen and Nina, we find that Connor is also involved in keeping this ‘safehouse’ operating. He knows that Angel sent the latest refugees, thanks to the Wolfram & Hart parking sticker on the car they’ve showed up driving.


Elsewhere, Angel is being healed by a parasite.



Page 15: Angel and Wes share some words regarding the situation with Burge.



Page 16: Angel and Wes walk through the complex (passing the dragon resting) and discuss what Angel plans to do long term. Their relationship is… strained… by Wes’ having to ‘represent’ what W & H want. Angel cannot entirely trust him. On Wes’ behalf, he isn’t pleased either with having to play W & H’s plans, but he is also bound by contract.



Page 17: Across town, in Westwood, another demon Lord forces humans to fight to the death with one another. He uses a telepathic, air-breathing ‘fish’, also enslaved, judging by the chain. This demon Lord is a neat creation, but the telepathic fish just looks silly.



Page 18: The Lord’s fun is interrupted by a rival group attempting to kill him.



Page 19: The fish is knocked out, leaving the Lord vulnerable. But, he has his own demon crew and orders them to defend against the invaders. They don’t do a great job.



Page 20: The skeletal Lord is angry, but willing to bargain with the invaders. In the meantime, his defenders are being easily wiped out.



Page 21: We find out that the invaders are led by Gunn! Now, when we left this member of Team Angel in Not Fade Away he had been grievously injured. Illyria had told him he would be dead within ten minutes, I believe. Yet now, he’s kicking ass. I hope we’ll get more detail into this turnaround.


What’s important now is that Gunn has a very specific reason for defeating this demon Lord. And it’s not just to save the enslaved; he is specifically trying to get a glowing disk that the Lord contains within his translucent body.


Interestingly, in a panel on Page 16 – Angel is looking at a drawing which appears to be of this disc.



Page 22: Team Gunn is also interested in the Fish… and the skimpily clothed slave-girls.



Page 23: On the street in front of W & H’s building, Burge’s son is back. This time, he’s there to prove a point. As Wes watches, the demon prepares to slaughter six humans in exchange for the six demons that Angel killed earlier to save the human group he subsequently sent to Connor.


He then appears to visit the ‘white room’. Or at least, he fades out to white.



Page 24: Angel again intervenes. Now, Burge demanded of Wes that Angel not leave the building for patrolling that night as ‘punishment’ to ‘think about what he’s done’.


Angel doesn’t leave the building.



Page 25: (Burge’s son to Angel): My father told you! MY FATHER TOLD YOU!


(Angel): I know. Not allowed to leave the building.


As Angel stands on a ledge of W & H, Burge’s loud-mouthed, moronic son charges him. Angel pulls out a good-ol’-fashioned stake from a pocket inside his jacket. He throws it. Exit Burge’s loud-mouthed, moronic son.

  Bye-bye Bruge's nameless son. And, good riddance.



Page 26: The followers of Burge’s now-quiet, not as stupid son warns Angel that he has now declared war against Burge, Lord of downtown L.A.


In a slightly confusing cut, we see dead bodies of some men piled in a hallway. It appears to be inside W & H, which wouldn’t say anything good about Angel. Turns out though, it’s a completely different location… as made clear on page 27.



Page 27: A woman screams as a man bites her… obviously a vampire. The vampire turns toward our POV, and we seen it is Gunn!


Which explains why he isn’t lying dead in an alleyway, as you would have expected at from the end of Not Fade Away.



The Good: The artwork from the cover throughout the interior of the comic is excellent, with one exception, but we’ll get to that.


The storyline is great. Los Angeles becomes a literal Hell, which fits well into AtS’ meme that Earth is already a Hell. Now, it’s literally true for a corner of it.


We get to check in on characters who weren’t in that alley (Connor, Nina and Gwen) as well as getting enough information to intuit what has happened to Wes and Gunn. Gunn’s fate is a heartbreaking twist, considering it was one of his biggest fears (and after having to put down his former sister in AtS- War Zone, I believe).



The Bad: Wesley, I afraid, doesn’t look like Alexis Denisoff. It took the dialog for me to figure out who Angel was talking to.



Scoring: This was actually a relatively strong start for the series. We know exactly what has happened by the end of it. Angel sets up a major conflict with a major Lord, Wes’ involvement is left ambiguous as far as whether he’ll be more help or hindrance and the showdown between Angel and Gunn is clearly coming. While not as strongly written as Buffy: S8, #1 … it’s still quite good and isn’t as repetitive as Spike: After the Fall. I’m scoring this one as 3.75 out of 5 stars.


Tags: angel, angel s6 review, ats, comics

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