Friday, June 13, 2008

My Review of Angel's 6x08: "After The Fall Part 8"

Written by Brian Lynch And Scott Tipton
Artwork by Tim Kane And Fabio Mantovani And Kevin Schmidt And Mirco Pierfederici

Gunn (to himself): “I remember the odds. I remember not beating them.”

The last of this good but somewhat unnecessary prelude to “After The Fall” and to be honest, things here aren’t quite as exciting as the previous two issues have been. I mean it’s apocalyptic but there doesn’t feel like we’re getting anything really new.

For instance with the Betta George plot of the story all we’ve seemed to know is that the vampires holding him hostage have been fighting slayers but beyond that, we don’t know why.

Betta tries to get his captor to spill his guts but beyond getting further threats on his life, the surly vampire doesn’t tell us anything. Three issues in I wish that we would either see Betta getting rescued or even dead because the lack of progress is something of a sore point with this issue.

Betta started off feeling important to the whole plot but now he’s just sitting there and nothing is getting advanced. Given that comic book form is a slower medium and the majority of people reading this are just Angel fans rather than comic fans, it would help to speed things up a little.

If Betta’s so important to this hell on earth plot that Gunn went to extra lengths to capture him, then it’s about time we got to see how exactly he contributed. Clearly the fish knows more than he’s letting on so how about some insight. This might be hell on earth but don’t send the readers to hell by being slow on the developments.

With last issue opening up on both Wesley and Kate’s escapades post “Not Fade Away”; Gwen is the next person to come under the microscope. As I’m fond of Gwen and given that we know she later allies herself with Connor, it’s quite nice to know what exactly the electro girl is getting up.

Once again there’s a romantic setting that looks destined to be crushed. Gwen enjoys a romantic picnic on the beach with a guy named Nate and surprisingly she’s able to touch him without killing him. Then again hell does work in mysterious ways.

After all this is the same setting that has made Angel a human, Wesley a captive ghost and Illyria pretty unstable. Gwen not being able to kill through touch is advantageous so surely because of that, it can’t last seeing as hell put Angel, Illyria and Wesley in disadvantaged positions.

Although Gwen is enjoying the idea of being able to get frisky with a bloke it does seem that Nate is a little too overexcited. Perhaps he genuinely likes or maybe he’s aware that she’s not very sexually experienced but either way he is somewhat eager to sleep with Gwen.

It even seems that Gwen’s sexual prowess is quite the news topic but despite his insistence Gwen still refuses to put out. Given how unstable her new environment is, I think Gwen is being smart. Pity that Nate continues to act a little immaturely for my taste.

Another interesting moment is the hellish feel the beach ends up getting a few minutes later. On screen it would be one of those surreal of images seeing an ocean practically resembling the inside of a volcano. There’s even a fish scorched to death at one point to emphasise the sudden transformation.

Nate seems pretty worried about what’s suddenly happening but it’s Gwen who’s more cutting in her comments. Desperate to get rid of her amorous new pal she berates him for trying to be a boy scout and then has a dig at his sexual prowess to really piss him off.

Okay so it’s pretty low blow but Gwen’s reasons for doing this are obviously there to protect Nate rather than harm him. She does seem to like him enough and if being a bitch to him is the only to keep him safe, then Gwen certainly doesn’t mind doing that. Under the circumstances, I don’t blame her.

However Nate still gets hurt when Gwen touches him and ends up fried to a crisp. Hell has been consistent in messing with certain character’s attributes so it’s no surprise that Gwen would get a sting in the tail. No one gets to catch a break in this arc, do they? Well, except maybe Lorne and Spike to a degree.

Gwen’s reasonably upset that her touch can kill once again but I’m having a hard time trying to understand what she meant when she said she earned it. If anything, I’d imagine the opposite reaction would be true. Gwen might not be pure as the driven snow but she’s certainly evil or deserving of bad shit like that to happen to her.

Despite not actually viewing Nate as a permanent love interest, Gwen’s grief for him is still pretty damn effective no less. I liked that she promised to try and fix the chaos surrounding LA by allying herself with Team Angel and seeing how she goes from that to actually Connor would’ve been nice.

It’s also interesting to get a somewhat deeper insight into Gwen as a character too. We know that she’s lonely and part of her reasons for seeing Nate was kill some of that loneliness. In her new surroundings I can’t imagine much in the way of happiness for her right now.

Meanwhile Gwen isn’t the only one in suitable turmoil. Nope, our next focus are the civilians of LA and there’s a young man who is desperate to spread the word of doom much to derision of others.

This guy wastes no real time in chiming bells and spouting stuff about the end being near. He even invades a cinema and uses the words to promote movies in order to get the point across. As plots go this one is both audacious and a little silly. In some ways it’s nice to see how the hell on earth affects ordinary people but this isn’t quite as compelling as you’d want it to be.

The guy comes across as somewhat annoying that the sceptical woman telling him not to be so negative is somewhat more sympathetic. Of course while she might think that he’s barking mad, it’s not long before he actually gives her genuine proof that he’s right to be fearful.

As the skies rain fire and the girl gets increasingly scared, it’s the guy who seems to find enjoyment out of this. For some reason that reminds me of Andrew and that is never a good thing.

With demons trashing the whole of LA left, right and centre the rest of this segment feels a tad flat. So hell is here and this guy is happy to be right? At one point it does look like he’s about to challenge some of these demons to a duel. Whether or not he actually survives, I have to admit that I don’t really care all that much.

The last focus of this issue is then Gunn. So we all know that he’s been turned into a vampire and this issue fills in some of the gaps since we saw him in “Not Fade Away” as Gunn finds himself in the hands of another vampire.

At first he thinks he’s been captured and that the vampire in question is a tad crazy but soon enough his mind begins to flash to the moment he was dying. Gunn even quips that he didn’t beat the odds. Being a vampire also ensures that to be honest.

As Angel, Spike and Illyria fought to survive, Gunn was on the way out and even Angel couldn’t encourage him to hold on for any longer. That’s when a group of vampires took Gunn and one of them ended up siring him. The question is why would one of them do that but annoyingly enough, it’s the one thing this issue fails to provide an answer for.

Gunn isn’t best thrilled with his new fate and nor is he in the mood to become friends with the very fellow who sired him. In fact there’s some good banter about these vampires who have an inside line when they’re explaining that they don’t work for Wolfram And Hart.

With Gunn being offered a position to work with these vampires (whose motives aren’t that clear), it’s actually quite funny that this lot are very reluctant to tell Gunn that it’s hell on earth. Of course Gunn is more than aware of that and when he’s not staking the guy who sired him, he’s informing the rest of the gang that he wants out of hell. I think that’s easier said than done.

Also in “After The Fall Part 8”

The cover I ended up buying for this issue was the one with Gunn and the many hands coming after him.

Betta George (to the vampire): “In the short time I poked around what passes for your mind, I saw all sorts of stuff and for the sake of surviving, I agree that air supply is totally underrat-”

It’s a bit odd that unlike the previous two issues, we got nothing on Betta George at the end of the comic.
Nate: “We’ve been kissing for three hours.”
Gwen: “And touching.”
Nate: “And touching, yes. Lotta touching.”

Gwen: “I should go.”
Nate: “No, you shouldn’t. Because you go and I don’t know when I’m going to see you again and then we can’t touch and that would suck because I’m all about-”
Gwen: “I know where you work. I’ll come there if I want to see you.”

Did anyone else think Nate was drawn a bit like Nathan Fillion for some reason?

Nate: “Somebody’s gotta do something.”
Gwen: “Totally but it ain’t you. Lots of boy scouts in this town. I’ve run across a couple of guys that are probably better at handling this than you. Also better at making out. Take the hurt and use it.”

Gwen (to dead Nate): “Yep. If it is permanent and it’s not and I can’t find another one of those thingamabobs to change me back and I will, kinda wished I had actually dated someone in the short time that I had. Not just. Yeah. And not you, not saying you. Just woulda been nice to know what it’s like. To not be alone for a little while. Woulda been nice.”

This has to be the first issue that was co-written with Brian Lynch. Scott Tipton helped out with the Gunn segment of the story.

Girl: “Why are you so negative all the time?”
Man: “I’m not. I’m positive. The end is near. Get ready. I am. I have soup and bottled water and a sword.”

Man (re Girl): “But if she’s okay and she ever does pass this way again she’ll see I used her stupid sign to lie for her and if she’d just come back, I’d be more than happy to admit it … it wasn’t entirely painful.”

The man used letters from movie titles such as Valentine, Chance, House On Haunted Hill, First Night and Catch Me If You Can – all of these movies have featured Buffy/Angel actors.

Vampire: “Just calm down Charles it’s going to be alright. We’ve been waiting to talk to you for weeks. What’s the last thing you remember?”
Gunn: “I remember … overly friendly vampire telling me to calm down. Oh, you mean before that. I remember the alley.”

Angel: “It’s gonna be alright, Gunn.”
Gunn: “Reall. Reall.”
Angel: “We’re gonna get out of this.”
Gunn: “Really not Angel.”
Angel: “Oh. Just hold on for a few minutes.”

There’s a brief preview for Issue 9 at the end of this issue. It comes out on June 26th.

Gunn (to vampire gang): “So. What’s this about an inside line? Because even before that curtain was pulled I was fully aware I was in hell and I want out.”

Does anyone know if Spike: After The Fall is canon as well as this? Is there even a point to it?

“After The Fall Part 8” has a collection of some good ideas and while it’s intriguing, this whole storyline on a whole hasn’t added as much as I hoped it would. Hopefully by next issue some actual progress will have been made.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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