Sunday, December 23, 2007

My review of Angel's 6x02: "After The Fall Part 2"

Written by Brian Lynch
Artwork by Franco Urru

Female Bodyguard: “Nobody touches Spike, Lord of Beverley Hills and our saviour squared.”
Angel: “Saviour squared. Yep, now it’s officially hell.”

Issue 1 to this arc started well enough but I have to admit that this issue didn’t overcome me with much excitement as Angel tells Wesley about killing Burges’ son and refuses his friends’ request to help him. I guess Angel wasn’t joking when he admitted to not being sure of Wesley – now he’s showing it.

Wesley doesn’t necessarily react to having offered to help rejected but you can tell by the look on his face that he isn’t a happy bunny over it either. I like that Angel does feel bad for how he treats Wesley but under the circumstances, he might have a good reason to be abrasive.

Not only is he not certain as what Wesley’s motives are at the moment but because he slaughtered the Burges’ irritating kid, he realises that he’s also painted a target on Connor as a result. Still there’s minor fun in Angel knocking down demons as he makes his way to his son’s hideout and is greeted by Nina.

Now I like Nina as a character but I wasn’t really keen on listening to her erratic responses when Angel was asking her a simple question. I get that being in hell is fucking up her mental state and perhaps there’s a juicy plot in there for future issues to cover but right now I don’t care. Angel’s worried about the only person left in his life and he’s got good reason too.

Fortunately Connor’s amazing skills at hacking and slashing are back to their Season Four best as Angel sees his boy slaughtering demons without breaking a sweat. Yeah, it seems another demon wants to be Lord of Westwood and Connor is ending his reign before it begins.

What’s even better is that Connor’s reaction to seeing his father is of pure delight. Okay so he might be a tiny bit annoyed that Angel hasn’t been in touch recently but overall he’s trying to impress Angel with his slaying. Angel makes a note of that while admitting that he’s also keen to impress Connor. It’s nice that there is at least one really sweet moment in an arc so inherently bleak. Heck, Connor even takes it well when he finds out that he might be a target for Burges.

Of course the father and son reunion does get interrupted by Gwen. She’s zapping demons left, right and centre but she’s also found something pretty gnarly and when you’re stuck in hell, that’s something of an achievement.

Given the location they happen to be in, I’m gonna guess it’s the remains of KR’PH and his pals. The fact that Gwen then muses about their being a new player in town only proves that point when the next thing we see is Gunn and some kind of spider web. I forgot that he stole company.
The fish from last issue is Betta George and he’s not thrilled with being kidnapped by a vampire. Funny thing is his willingness to listen to Gunn in spite of not knowing whether or not his captor is worthy of being trusted. Gunn might make an excellent quip about a rotting corpse but true to form he’s not amused with his own transformation.

He gets pretty animated when George calls him a vampire and tells the telepathic fish about the many times he’s slain vampires. More importantly is his bitterness towards Angel. Gunn regrets ever trusting his former boss and even holds him responsible for his current state. Not entirely sure I would agree with that. Like everyone else, Gunn knew exactly what he was getting into when he signed up with Wolfram And Hart but at the same, there’s no way he deserved this cruel fate.

Gunn’s attempts to try and differentiate himself from other vampires comes across as denial. He’s disgusted by what he has become but at the same time, he’s eating humans to survive and even aggressively assaults George for little reason. The scorn by his team mates also suggests he might have a mutiny on his hands too.

Also we see him place the orb he stole from KR’PH placed in a room of what looks like demon remains of sorts. Gunn plotting revenge on Angel is just another sore point with this issue. Having the Eye Of Ramras is also bad seeing as it amplifies power.

Any chance that Gunn might be using that to get his soul back, boost his physical strength or on the rare off chance becoming human again? Where a Chameleon Arch when you need one? I think I’ve gone from Gunn being a vampire is unfair to Gunn being a vampire flat out sucks.

Another sore point about this issue is that Angel lies to Connor when the lad asks if he knows who’s responsible for all the carnage? Angel obviously knows its Gunn and probably feels guilty about what happened to his mate but Angel really can’t afford to keep Connor in the dark. Connor is the only real ally along with Nina and Gwen that Angel has right now. Keeping secrets will put them in harm’s way.

Gwen isn’t really as useful in the part of the issue as Angel and Connor mainly talk among themselves and she’s kind of left out. Gwen folding her arms and sulking is a good indicator that she doesn’t like being kept out of the loop. I wonder how she’ll feel when she discovers the new player in town is the same dude who took her virginity as well.

Still Angel chooses to leave both Connor and Gwen out of things because apparently dealing with things by him is the better option. In the least savage looking part of this hell on earth, a mansion and a gaggle of demonic babes reveal that Spike is living the life of luxury.

I’d love to say that I was so looking forward to Spike’s return but seeing as I found him to be mostly a hindrance in Season Five, I really wasn’t that fussed on seeing him. Spike doing his best Hugh Hefner stance and flashing his chest while women tend to him in hardly anything is a stark contrast to everything else. I supposed someone should be smelling the roses so to speak. Who better than Spike in terms of rubbing it into Angel?

Spike lazes about spewing mostly bullshit on how he has defeated most of the baddies since moving to LA and suffice to say, his ladies are lapping it up like there’s no tomorrow. There’s also going to be someone who’ll be impressed with Spike but honestly I’m finding somewhat irritating in this issue.

Angel’s also not particularly pleased with his enemy putting his own spin on things and the fact that Spike has bodyguards willing to inflict damage on Angel just reeked of annoyance. There’s a nice moment where one of Spike’s ladies shows an interest in Angel and anything that annoys Spike has to be a good thing.

Sadly while Angel might get a delightful punch it’s the presence of Illyria and her sudden devotion to Blondie Bear that see Angel on the verge of an ass kicking. Great, Spike’s appearance was annoying enough and now that Illyria has become his gushing sycophant I’m less than thrilled with seeing her again.

Also in “After The Fall Part 2”

Cover issue I got was Spike and his hoards of babes. There are two versions of the other two covers out there.

Wesley: “Do you want me to come with you?”
Angel: “To be honest, Wes … I really don’t.”
Wesley: “Right, then. I’ll stay here and haunt the fort.”

Okay can Franco Urru please stop drawing both Nina and Gwen like porn starlets? It’s distracting and not in a good way.

Angel: “Connor needs to watch his back. So Nina how have you -”
Nina: “I eat bloody meat now.”
Angel: “Oh good.”

Angel (re Connor): “After all I put him though. I mean this is literally the second time I punched his ticket to hell. Not many fathers can say that.”

Stupid question but was Angel hitting on Nina during their little scene together? I don’t think he wanted to go on a killing spree with her.

Angel: “I killed the son of a lord.”
Connor: “Good for you, seriously. Wow. Just that paints a big ass target on my head, doesn’t it?”
Angel: “Yeah. Sorry about that.”

Gwen (to Angel/Connor): “Yo. ‘Anything you can do, I can do better’ going well? Awesome. You’re going to want to come with me.”

What’s the symbol drawn around George’s bed supposed to represent?

Gunn: “Comfortable.”
Betta George: “Gotta admit, not really. The accommodation in this place suck and it smells like rotting corpse.”
Gunn: “That’s probably because of the rotting corpse.”

Gunn (to Betta George, re Angel): “See someone fancies himself a white hat because he’s got a soul. Thinks he gets in touch with the man he was, makes him good. Funny thing, though. Maybe the man he was wasn’t all that good to begin with.”

One of the doors in Gunn’s place has a rotting octopus like creature strung up. It looks like it’s protecting that room.

Gunn (to Betta George): “It’s not about the soul. I’m living proof of that.”
Vampire: “Formerly living proof.”

Gwen: “It’s a vampire or many vampires.”
Angel: “How can you be sure?”
Gwen: “A few ladies told me. Not so much with words but with their necks and horrified dead expressions.”

There’s some strange marking on the wall that doesn’t seem consistent with the ones on the floor of Betta George’s bed.

Angel (re dragon): “Just go. He’ll find me. He’s a little jumpy around anyone who isn’t me so call him by his name to let him know you’re on the up and up.”
Connor: “What’s his name?”

Connor: “That’s what you went with? I’m serious Angel. Weirder and weirder.”

The dragon’s name is Dudden as far as I can make out. That’s not the weirdest of names to call a dragon.

Spike: “In the end, the forces of darkness didn’t stand a chance against Spike. All bloody hail.”
Female Demons: “Bloody hail.”

Spike: “Oh for goodness sake. Eyes back in your head, Spider.”
Spider (re Angel): “He reeks of magic.”
Spike: “And I don’t?”

That female bodyguard looked similar to a Bond villain.

Spike (to Angel): “You’re leaving in two ways. One in a teeny, tiny little urn. Two – you know what? I can only think of the one.”

Illyria (to Angel, re Spike): “Your presence is irritating my pet. Perhaps you dismemberment will soothe him.”

There’s an interview with Gary Russell previewing the Doctor Who comics that IDW have coming up in January with this issue as well.

Meh, I was under whelmed. “After The Fall Part 2” hyped up both Spike and Illyria’s return and both of them left me feeling cold. Thank God for Gunn’s struggle as a vampire and Angel/Connor stuff, otherwise this would’ve been a total chore to read.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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