Sunday, March 02, 2008

My Review of Angel's 6x04: "After The Fall Part 4"

Written by Brian Lynch
Artwork by Franco Urru

Angel (to Wesley): “I’m alive. I’m breathing, I’m sweating. I’m aching from fights that occurred two months ago. It’s what I always wanted and it’s not because of the Shanshu, I’ve signed that destiny away. I’m free of the vampire for one reason – they know right now is when I need it the most. Only way to get out of hell. Act like nothing’s changed.”

So it’s definitely confirmed then. The last issue dangled the carrot about Angel being human and the first thing this issue has the decency to do is confirm it. We flash to the end of “Not Fade Away” to see Angel doing battle with various demons. Before I noticed the lack of Spike and Illyria, Angel focuses his attention on Gunn’s absence.

At this point it had been well speculated that Gunn would’ve died in this battle, having barely survived his earlier altercation with vampires. I always hoped that part wasn’t true but I liked that Angel is incredibly curious as to why Gunn isn’t there. It makes sense given that Angel doesn’t trust either Spike or Illyria.

Of course Angel has more problems than just demons and Gunn being gone. As he’s about to do some more heroics, there’s the realisation of his heart beating. Even worse is going back first into a car and being in serious pain. Of all the times to become human, this couldn’t have been a worse time for Angel.

Wesley shows up and apologises to Angel. Dressed in the same way we met him in Buffy’s third season, he’s there to help. Angel might be human but it doesn’t mean that everyone else has to know and with the aid of some funky spells, Angel can keep up the pretence and heal himself.

I get why Angel doesn’t want everyone to know about his transformation. The knowledge of him being human would cause demon kind to ignite further chaos, especially if they viewed Angel as not being a serious obstacle to them. After all this hell on earth works to their favour.

That being said Wesley was perfectly right in warning Angel about the fallout from using dark magic. Being human makes him vulnerable to it and there’s also the problem of how long the charade can be maintained. Demon kind might not be privy but that doesn’t mean they won’t be anytime soon either.

Wesley doesn’t believe that picking a fight with Wolfram And Hart in hell is the wisest of choices and Angel believes that by acting like nothing has happened to him is the best way of winning his vendetta with the evil law firm. Not sure how that’ll work when they are more than aware of the predicament they are.

Even Wesley being practical and telling Angel to call off the fight isn’t enough to have him change his mind. Unlike Buffy and her army of slayers, Angel really doesn’t have a lot of people he can call on to bail him out. Perhaps he should be taking heed of Wesley’s words after all.
The frustrating thing also is that Wesley knows well and proper that Angel won’t listen to him anyway. I should be glad that there’s at least no animosity between them here. Angel seems less distant with Wesley than he has been in the previous issues and then there’s the arrival of two mysterious ladies.

Like Angel, I assumed that someone was eavesdropping in their conversation but I was wrong. Wesley thinking that he was having to crossover was hilarious too. This fate has to worse than death for him, even though he’s determined to help Angel out. Wesley needn’t worry as its Angel these two women want.

They don’t waste time in grabbing him and Wesley follows the women to see why Angel is so necessary to them. The dragon also gives chase too. Could these ladies be dangerous?

Someone who definitely is dangerous is Gunn, who sees an opportunity with an empty Wolfram And Hart at his feet. With no-one there he decides to give the place a once over with his little vampire buddies. No prizes in guessing what Gunn plans on doing with the unoccupied law firm.

Spike meanwhile has his own problems to deal with. Illyria’s been acting even more erratically than usual as he has to deal with the shark demon from “Tabula Rasa”. Shark demon doesn’t take Spike serious and wants to pass on a powerful staff to help defeat Angel.

Although it’s widely speculated that Angel is going to lose the battle he dared to start, the staff is something of a backup in case Angel might actually gain the upper hand. It’s a nice idea and it’s interesting to see all the lords united in wanting to trash Angel. I was sort of hoping for some duplicity but that’s maybe later in the arc.

Though this demon is generally annoying, I do like him undermining Spike. Not having to put up with Illyria in person wasn’t a bad thing either. In lieu of her though, we get scantily clad Spider challenging Spike instead.

Spider proves to be more than a good looking girl. Aside from childishly wanting the staff from Spike, she’s perceptive enough to realise that Spike and Angel’s relationship goes beyond simple loathing of each other.

In fact Spider even goes one better by openly admitting that her tribe’s first reaction was to kill Spike on sight. Apparently it was her who vetoed the idea because she saw something in the vampire. Okay yet another excuse for shameless Spike worshipping and is it much of a shock that Spider might have a thing for Spike? Probably not.

At least in spite of her crush, the girl is ambitious. She figures getting rid of Angel and the other lords is the best thing for everyone and using Illyria is crucial. Surprisingly Spike actually seems to care about Illyria (or is it Fred) enough to not go through with her suggestion.

Even more interestingly is how vocal she is about Angel. Spider thinks Spike feels responsible for him but I’m not sure I get the same feeling. Still I quite like Spider. She’s more tolerable than Illyria and she could be a great pain for Spike if she decides to do things her way without his consent.

As for Angel and Wesley, it turns out that the mystery ladies are taking them to meet the Lord of Silver Lake. Basically it’s the demonic version of Wisteria Lane as it seems that some demons can co-exist peacefully rather than fight for supremacy. In fact it’s so peace loving that it reminds me of Caritas.

There’s a good reason behind that because the Lord of this area happens to be Lorne. So far Lorne is probably the most welcomed return we’ve had to the comic season and it’s great that he’s seemed to resolve some of his on going issues too. Setting up a neighbourhood to protect demons rather than slaying them is definitely believable for Lorne. He was never much of a fighter anyway.

That being said Lorne is willing to risk things to actually help Angel anyway. Showing him stuff in a crystal ball is one thing but perhaps giving him another warrior in Groo is the best way of helping Angel’s cause.

I’ve never been a big fan of Groo but he’s relatively harmless and his happy stance is a tonic from all the gloom and shit we’ve had so far. It does however make me want to ask – can we please have Cordelia and Fred back as well? I don’t care how contrived how it is, I just want them back. This season is lacking without them like Season Five did.

More interesting seems to be the level of mistrust between Wesley and Lorne. Wesley knows that his new status creeps people out and Lorne isn’t shy pointing out why he doesn’t feel he can trust Wesley. We still don’t know whether or not Wesley can be trusted but I still would like to think that Wesley wouldn’t willingly betray Angel this time around.

As for Gunn, with all the pain, rage and whatever else he’s feeling, he chooses to do something proactive about it. Gunn blames Wolfram And Hart for his misfortune and he makes them pay by blowing up the law firm to bits and just watches. The flipside is that Wesley then disappears and Lorne fears being blamed. Just when I thought something was going to go right for Angel, this goes and happens.

Also in “After The Fall Part 4”

The cover I bought for this issue had Angel warding off the two demon ladies who showed him Silver Lake.

Angel: “Okay next it says you’re supposed to put one hand on your hip and the other, kinda like a spout.”
Wesley: “Wait … really?”
Angel: “No. Tnuets-ne’zal gnav! Snem’ed.”

Out of all the illustration Angel seems to be improving and Lorne also looked pretty good as well. Spike and Wesley on the other hand …

Angel (to Wesley): “We agreed not to say that out loud. Fine, you said the h-word; let’s vent our feelings because we both love that.”

Pink Lady: “We came for you.”
Green Lady: “For you Angel.”
Wesley: “Well that was a short lived excitement.”

This might sound a bit stupid but why aren’t the Powers That Be making more of a conscious effort to help Angel out?

Spider (re Shark Demon): “He seemed sweet. So who gets to go up against Angel?”
Spike: “Doesn’t make a bloody difference either way. Angel beats the odds, the odds beat him.”

Spider (to Spike): “You were shockingly handsome but a tad scrawny and very much the loud mouth and your travelling companion, the lass behind door number one, she was a tad unstable.”

When Spike chopped off Spider’s head in a hallucination he was holding the scythe Buffy still has possession of.

Spike (re Illyria): “We’re not using her. Not like that. Um, Spider?”

Spider: “Hey was I just sans head? Don’t soft shoe, it felt like-”
Spike: “Go. I have to think.”

No Connor, Gwen or Nina in this issue. Plus we’ve had nothing on poor Bettina George either.

Angel: “I’m surprised he wants to see us.”
Wesley: “I don’t trust this place.”
Angel: “I do. I feel oddly content.”

Wesley: “Rain check on the hug.”
Lorne: “Roger that. Stuck in that suit for eternity. Wolfram and Hart’s cruellest act yet.”

We got see to a female version of Skip and Groo (with his Pylea look) got to ride on a black horse with wings. Pretty cool, huh?

Groo (to Angel): “Un-Lord Lorne tells me you’re going to re-die in grand final battle against evil incarnate. Let’s see if I can up an arsenal that will prolong your existence for a few moments.”

Wesley (as his disappears): “I’m not sure he cares if he walks away. Part of me thinks he doesn’t want to. If we don’t do something soon – Angel will die-”.
Lorne: “Wes? Um, Wesley? Wesley? I’m gonna be blamed for this I know it.”

The cover for next issues has Angel, Lorne, Gunn, Spike, Wesley, Groo, Illyria, Nina, Gwen, Connor, Bettina George and the Dragon. A release date wouldn’t go amiss.

When I first read “After The Fall Part 4” I didn’t like so it’s a good job that I waited a few days before I decided to review it because it’s actually better than I originally thought it would be. It still lacks oomph in places but next issue’s big battle should hopefully amend that.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

No comments: