Friday, July 04, 2008

My Review of Angel's 6x09: "After The Fall Part 9"

Written by Brian Lynch
Artwork by Nick Runge

Angel (re Fred/Illyria): “Do you how or why?”
Spike: “If I did, I wouldn’t be here. She’s like a schizo switchblade. Fred one moment, off her rocker demigoddess the next. I don’t think this dysfunctional family reunion is helping. If I knew Wesley was back, I would have kept her away.”

Is it me or are Angel comics like buses? You wait a month just for one and in the month of June, you wind up with two. Well in my case, its July so along with picking up Buffy’s “Time Of Your Life Part 1” and the Season 2 DVD of Torchwood, I had to snag Issue 9 of Angel’s “After The Fall” along with Issue 10 as well.

We’ve had to wait three months to get some actual answers on the awesome ending of Issue 5 and with the unnecessary but not terrible “First Night” three parter, I have to say that this comic didn’t rivet me as much as I had hoped it would.

It starts off interesting enough. Fred comes back in the middle of a bloodbath and Angel notes that her sudden reappearance also means that she’s a target for every demon who wants to rip Angel and his gang to shreds. For a minute, being dead must be a preferable option for Fred.

Fortunately she has a protector in the shape of Wesley who stands in the demons way to keep his beloved safe. However seeing as Wesley can’t physically touch, never mind kill anything, he’s not the most reliable of bodyguards. Even the fire demon scoffs at his attempts to be threatening.

Luckily Angel and Spike manage to use their sometimes ability to think alike and decide to do a little demon carnage of their own. With punches being thrown left, right and centre, its little wonder then that Fred nearly gets herself killed but she seems to have another good luck charm in the return of Groo.

With Angel and Spike attempting to figure out how or why Fred has suddenly appeared, you already get that nasty feeling that her return isn’t permanent. Angel’s nihilistic standpoint about miracles never happening is a nice way on commenting on the relentlessly bleak ‘season’ this is turning out to be.

Even though on Buffy, you’ve had a fair amount of danger, characters making incredibly poor choices and a good few deaths, we’ve also had some delightful comedic moments and the odd bit of sauciness to boot. Angel unfortunately seems to be stuck in permanent misery which even as a reader can be a grind to get through.

Gunn himself just stands there with his vampire gang watching the carnage and staking a vampire who dares to disagree with him. Maybe it’s the previous issue still fresh in my mind but I really, really loathe the writers for turning him into a vampire. If anything can be reversed, then perhaps at the end of this arc maybe Gunn can become human again.

As for Lorne’s he also pretty shocked with the sudden reappearance of Fred but there’s hardly time for him to focus on that. Instead one of the demons gets a little anxious and starts killing more and more of the humans while Gunn himself looks like he might actually join in.

Angel on the other hand takes to goading the Lords who can’t be bothered to fight. Spike’s support of Angel’s defiance gives us a fragment of comedy. In fact while Angel goes on an inspired bitch fest to his new foes, Spike gets some one liners that don’t feel altogether contrived.

Gunn meanwhile looks like he’s about to give Angel a mercy killing as the Lords decide to do him in. Then there’s the Hagan Shafts which both Gunn and Spike have vague memories during the time they worked for Wolfram And Hart. Spike explains it in more detail to an eager Connor.

Not only that but Connor seems to remember everything else he’s forgotten. He knows that Angel’s more or less responsible for everyone being in hell. However Connor wants the kind of answers that only a father can give as well as help and there’s a great moment where Angel acts pretty paternal with his son.

That’s also followed by the cooler moment where one of the demons explodes and a crowd of people give Angel an interesting name. Does this mean that things are going to get better? I certainly hope so. We need something good to happen for this lot.

However one demon’s death isn’t enough. Spike rounds up everyone else including Gwen to get stuck in with fighting every other baddie and with large tentacles appearing from out of nowhere. Spike and Gwen arguing aside, those band of ladies from earlier issues have a better use.

Spike rounds up Spider and her gang by telling them how great he is. Apparently it’s a way to get them prepared to slaughter anything in sight. On a positive note, Spider is considerably less annoying in this issue that she was in earlier ones. Funnily enough she was the only one who didn’t want to get involved with the fighting here.

As for Gunn, his contribution to this comic hasn’t been overwhelming so he just leaves and lets Angel and his warriors to get on with things. He seems to have a plan and it might involve Angel and the gang but he isn’t exactly forthcoming in disclosing whatever the hell it may be either.

The gang meanwhile end up retreating. It seems to be the closest thing to a victory they can achieve but with the Shark demon actually posing no threat, things do seem to be a little better. There’s even a glorious moment with Angel and the gang moving into a hotel.

Wesley meanwhile explains to Fred that he’s no longer a member of the living. The real sting in the tail is Fred not really being Fred. It seems that Illyria is just being erratic and we’re stuck with her for the time. That being said the final scenes between her and Wesley are some of the most poignant.

Is it surprising that Wesley might have his own plan to save everyone but at the same time, he can’t tell Angel about? Not within the slightest! Does it royally suck that after three months Fred isn’t completely back? Absolutely! Is there a chance that Wesley and Fred could reunite at some point? Well this ending gives us the mere suggestion.

Illyria admits she’s finding it harder to suppress Fred and even notes that Spike is as bad as everyone else. I want Illyria to lose, I want Fred back and to be honest I hope it happens within the next three issues. As a character we can definitely lose her, especially if it means Fred coming back.

Also in “After The Fall Part 9”

The cover I got for this issue was a knife wielding Angel beside an “I Heart LA” sign.

Angel (to himself): “In a split second, Fred is back. A split second later she’s a target. Reaching her, however seems to take an eternity.”

Surprisingly with this issue there was a detailed enough synopsis of the previous events.

Wesley: “Make one move and I’ll crush your heart.”
Fire Demon: “You can’t do that”.

Spike: “Get back.”
Fred: “Oh my God, what’s happening?”
Spike: “I have a less accurate answer to that every second of the day love.”

This Issue was released a week after the previous issue but I was sure that it was supposed to come out on June 25th.

Gunn: “Vic, man. You know I don’t love this situation. No, that’s an understatement. To say I hate it with every fibre of my being, that would be an understatement. Yet I’m willing to be the better man and overlook it because we’re working towards a common goal but then you go and doubt me?”

Hoodie Vampire (to Gunn): “Angel makes it through this. Got it. We gotta get you into yoga or something.”

There was another promo for Spike: After The Fall. To be fair, I don’t think I’ll be reviewing it.

Demon: “Enough of this! Angel was suppose to battle alone! He wants to change the rules? Dandy. New plan. Champions. Slaughter the humans.”

Angel: “Bunch of all-powerful “Lords” too scared to face off against one vampire. So you appoint champions to do your dirty work.”
Spike: “You tell’em! Just, just let us get as far enough away from you and then you tell’em.”

Spike’s mock cowardice is an interesting standpoint, given that he does actually seem to be scared of what is going down in LA.

Angel (to the Lords): “Tell me something. Do you privately thank me every day for dragging everyone to hell so you D-Listers could actually pretend to be anything other than bargain bin lackeys? Can’t you do anything, just one little tiny thing for yourselves?”
Spike: “Does anyone have a car? We could get further away from Angel if we had a very fast car.”

Connor: “So you messed up! You sent the city to hell! But now you’re back and you’re doing something about it.”
Angel: “Connor-”
Connor: “I remember everything.”

Was it me or did Spider’s little gang look all kitted out like the slayers in the Buffy Season Eight comics again?

Connor (to Angel): “But it also showed me what you did. And not just for me or your friends but for anyone that needed help. Well, look around; plenty of people need your help. Like, okay, like me for instance. I’m seeing an electric girl who I can’t really touch and I know you’ve been through that whole ‘can’t be with who you love’ thing and I kinda brought it up to Spike but his advice was more of the weird uncle variety. So I wanted to talk to you about it, because you know, you’re my damn father.”

Spike: “Yo hate to bother you but the rumble isn’t over.”
Gwen: “It’s fine. Bring it then. Do you know what happens to a champion that gets struck by lightning?”

Connor must have been talking about Buffy during his speech to Angel and the latter got referenced as a vampire slayer.

Angel: “How you’d know that?”
Spike: “Have you met me? My name is Spike.”

Gunn (to Hoodie Vampire, re Angel and the gang): “Yeah. They’re all together and that – is exactly what has to happen for me to do what I gotta do.”

Spider literally has spider legs on her back. Her real name is Maria and she’s also a product of Wiccan tampering.

Angel: “Connor, Gwen … you can bring everyone back here if you want. There’s room.”
Connor: “Kinda lame to move back in with my dad, no? You’ll get all up in my business.”

Wesley (re his body): “No, I thought, perhaps, that I needed my earthly vessel to … to break my contract with Wolfram And Hart. Rituals being what they are.”
Illyria: “You don’t have the power to do that.”
Wesley: “I don’t, no. That’s why I attempted to contact the Powers That Be.”

When Wesley mentions LA’s fashion district, there’s no denying he’s talking about Cordelia. Plus the gang look like they’re living back at the Hyperion and Connor’s with Gwen?

Illyria: “But now you’re alone. Angel doesn’t trust you. Angel shouldn’t trust you. And you want to be with her.”
Wesley: “I do very much.”
Illyria: “She’s here. I try to push her down but then I see the faces of those she loved and she fights back.”

Issue 10 of “After The Fall” is released on July 2nd, the same day as Buffy’s “Time Of Your Life Part 1”.

Arguably a better issue that the previous two, with some genuinely nice moments. After some consideration, “After The Fall Part 9” is a near favourite of mine. That being said, with three issues left in this arc, can we please get some positive stuff, such as the gang escaping hell?

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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