Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x18: "Time Of Your Life Part 3"

Written by Joss Whedon
Artwork by Karl Moline

Fray (re Buffy): “’Big picture …’ that spin’s for govvers, not slayers. Something’s skew with that girl.”
Dark Willow: “Anger won’t help. You have to understand Buffy. If you hate her she’ll be harder to kill.”

Three quarters of the way into this arc, it doesn’t feel like too much is advancing, does it? So far we know Buffy’s been thrust into a future where only one slayer now survives but she’s still clueless on how all the others perished within the space of 200 years.

Leafing through some books in Fray’s house doesn’t really help Buffy. When the clues aren’t being cryptic or ridiculous, then it’s sad for Buffy to discover that none of the race of slayers herself and Willow created have even made it into the history books.

Naturally enough this distresses Buffy and being stuck in a rather dystopian future also does little to boost her self esteem. Fray on the other hand is more concerned with a lead from Gunther on a current vampire hit so Buffy doesn’t get too much time to brood, which is good because self-pitying Buffy can be exhausting at times.

Still Fray’s appalling English is also a good thing for Buffy to concentrate. Three issues into this arc and even I feel like shaking Fray and asking her to speak properly but despite her terrible vocabulary, at least Buffy is smart enough to realise that a part of Fray’s plan involves actual slaying.

As for Willow, she’s still smarting over being duped by Saga Vasuki and decides to take a more assertive stance in order to save Buffy. Kennedy’s function in this issue is to serve as a means of support and she does this by getting Willow to try and contact the snake demon for help.

The flipside is the method that Willow has to take in order to do this. Okay while she doesn’t have to go and slaughter another deer, the idea of her and Kennedy frakking doesn’t exactly fill me with excitement under the circumstances. Maybe Saga Vasuki should consider opening up an email account instead.

Xander and Dawn are also not having a very good time of it either. With the castle going up in flames and demons after them, these two could really use some luck as well. Xander also badly times falling off Dawn’s back as well but at least it didn’t take either one of them long enough to figure out that Warren and Amy were behind this little scheme.

The one thing that slightly peeves me is that we’re not getting to see either Warren or Amy. Blowing up the castle was a good move on their part but shouldn’t we be seeing them put the rest of their plans into action. Shouldn’t Twilight and General Voll also be factoring at this point as well?

Then there’s the attack of the tree people as well. As if things weren’t bad enough for Xander and Dawn but now they have another adversaries to contend with to boot. Funnily enough this problem is taken care of far easier by Xander and Dawn simply dressing them down. Apparently tree demons (or whatever they) are the least frightening thing to find in a forest.

In the future however, the likes of Gunther has a lot worse shit to deal with when Harth makes a house call. Harth is unsurprisingly annoyed that Gunther has been helping his little sister with the big monsters and decides to take care of the Mer creature once and for all.

I quite like Gunther as a character so I’m a little sad to see him meet such a grisly death as a group of Harth’s vampires decide to feast on him. However although not a lot is seen, it does make for a nice little gory moment in the issue. Then again, there is the good possibility that Gunther might actually survive into the next issue.

As for Buffy, she might be a slayer but it still turns out that she’s a lousy driver with even Fray scared for her life. There’s a nice moment where Buffy’s notoriously bad motor skills are noted by the other slayer but for the most part, Fray’s priorities lie solely in getting the baddies.

Buffy however is more curious about the origins and that is where her and Fray openly conflicted. Buffy’s ‘big picture’ speech isn’t much to stop Fray from just attacking vampires and Buffy herself is a little too occupied with her bad driving skills to do anything to stop the volatile slayer.

One of the more interesting moments of the issue is when Fray takes a look at a victim and then faces off against Dark Willow. Just a few seconds to that, Fray was openly questioning Buffy’s ‘big picture’ speech so it only seems ripe that Dark Willow would use it as a conversation starter.

Our Willow on the other hand is having mind blowing sex. Now my definition of that would be with a hot, funny guy and not a sinister looking snake demon but as communications go, at least one of these parties is getting sated. Willow on the other hand is still annoyed for being deceived.

Saga Vasuki doesn’t seem all that bothered about Willow’s annoyance. She’s too busy with the flirty banter and seems genuinely surprised when Willow admits that she genuinely cannot get Buffy back herself. However it does seem that Saga was deceived herself so it’s not entirely her fault that Buffy is stuck in the future.

Still she does decide to help Willow out on the promise that once the rift is opened that Willow doesn’t look into it. I’m pretty sure there’s a terrific reason as to why Saga would demand such a promise but given how sketchy she comes across, I’d still want to know the real reason rather than just accepting her word at face value.

After that promise is hastily made, Willow disappears back into her own bedroom with Kennedy where it appears that the two of them also had sex around the same time. I’m sure a lot of people would envy Willow for being able to screw two women in different times/places but it does make relationship with Kennedy look questionable.

Given that Willow and Kennedy are not a massively shipped coupling, you do wonder if this is the beginning of the end for them. I’m not sure how I feel about that. The realist in me thinks we’ll never get Tara back but I’ve never hated Kennedy and I don’t like the idea of Willow having to whore herself even if it is allegedly for the greater good so to speak.

Dark Willow on the other hand is also equally hard to figure out. It’s clear that she wants to create a divide between Buffy and Fray but at the same time, her attitude towards Fray is rather friendly. She even patiently reminds Fray that she’s not a vampire and credits her with already knowing that.

However the discussion of her not being human could just be a commentary on the dark path she has revisited or a possibility that this Dark Willow might have some demonic properties about her. Another noteworthy part about this conversation is the fact that Willow notes the similarities between Fray and Buffy.

That being Dark Willow also quickly establishes that her and Harth have different ideas. Harth seemingly wants dominion whereas Dark Willow could simply be looking for revenge on Buffy. It also doesn’t help Dark Willow that she’s not running the big magic juice but she’s able to use something to convince Fray against Buffy.

Buffy meanwhile has managed to survive her lousy driving skills and even wonders about a certain van being parked but soon enough she encounters Fray’s older sister Erin. This was the girl who didn’t recognise last issue and also the one who felt like a dweeb for not knowing.

Erin’s a police officer but right now, she’s more worried about Fray’s whereabouts that in her frazzled mind she pulled a gun on Buffy. Buffy at least does the right thing by informing Erin that Fray took off during the middle of a lurk central before putting her foot in her mouth about Harth.

The best part is that both Buffy and Erin find some unsurprising common ground with each other. Both of them are able to chatter about being the law in their own ways and the both of them can relate to the annoyance of younger sisters. Mine is only six minutes younger than me (we’re twins) so it’s an amusing exchange between the two of them.

Perhaps it makes sense that Buffy would have an easier time relating to Erin that Fray. I even find Erin more sympathetic and interesting than Fray. Unfortunately for Buffy she ended up getting knocked out by Fray, who now thinks that turning on the blonde slayer will help her save the world.

It’s kind of sad that Erin had a role to play in this overall but I could see it coming upon repeat readings. The cliff hanger isn’t quite up there with Warren being revealed to be alive, Gigi about to get axe happy on Faith or poor Renee being murdered by Toru but it’s interesting enough.

Also in “Time Of Your Life Part 3”

The cover I got was with a Centaur Dawn who did seem to be drawn quite saucily or was that just me?

Buffy (to herself): “I created a race of slayers. To tip the scales, to beat back the darkness. To make the world better. But they’re not in the books. Not a mention. Nothing and the better world … turns out like this. Wow. Spoiler alert.”

Has Joss Whedon been watching Doctor Who’s “Silence In The Library”/“Forest Of The Dead”? I only say it because of a line from Dark Willow last issue and the spoiler comment.

Buffy: “Does any part of that sentence involve me beating something up?”
Fray: “Think so.”
Buffy: “Include me in.”

Willow: “Ken-Doll, do you trust me and know that I love you and I’m not a crazy person and what we do is for the greater good, cross your heart no backsies?”
Kennedy: “Duh. What we gotta do?”
Willow: “Frak.”

Given how much of an avowed Battlestar Galactica fan Joss Whedon has admitted to being, I’m surprised it’s taken him this long to reference it. It’s even more effective that it’s Willow who did as well.

Xander: “Bomb. Plus magic. Equals.”
Dawn: “Warren and Amy.”
Xander: “The Laurel and Hardy of being a dick.”
Dawn: “Man, I’d love to get those two under my hooves.”
Xander: “Amen.”

Gunther: “I was born in the gutter, boy. Not near, in. I have worked and killed and dodged or bought the laws till I control half of Haddyn and I have done it without even breathing air. Don’t think to out beast me.”
Harth: “You have it spun, Gunther. We’re of a kind. After all … lurks don’t breathe either.”

What exactly happened to Dark Willow to make her lose her magic? Did Twilight actually succeed in his aim to rid the world of magic?

Fray: “Summers, you drive like a Spaz!”
Buffy: “And that phrase stood the test of time?”

Willow: “I seem to be going.”
Saga Vasuki: “So brief a stay.”
Willow: “I’ll see you soon.”
Saga Vasuki: “Yes … do come again.”

This comic had some interesting ads in it, including one for Dragon Con 2008 which featured James Marsters.

Fray: “You wanna keep that hand?”
Dark Willow: “This is about as much magic as I can muster so don’t fret. I just need to show you something.”

Erin (re Buffy): “She just seems … Mel, what are we doing here?”
Fray: “What we do. Saving the world.”

The next issue is out on October 1st and then afterwards we’re back to a standalone one.

As this arc seems to move on, “Time Of Your Life Part 3” doesn’t offer a whole of progression. With one more issue left, we’ll need what exactly happened that turned the future into the bleak world we’ve become accustomed to.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Review of Angel's 6x12: "After The Fall Part 12"

Written by Brian Lynch
Artwork by Stephen Mooney And Nick Runge

Cordelia: “But to be fair, you’re not standing, either.”
Angel: “Oh, right. That.”
Cordelia: “Yes, that. I’m not a fan of the dramatic -”
Angel: “Ha.”
Cordelia: “- Shush, but your reaction to your own death could be a bit bigger. Like maybe a gasp? A sigh? Subtle cock of an eyebrow?”

After the crappy previous issue where yet another betrayal was revealed and Angel was inches away from death, it is amazing just how much I ended up loving this issue. Sure it’s because of a certain person but does that matter? This comic needed a boot up the backside and the best returnee brought that in style.

However before I get on with them, there’s the issue of Gwen. The end of Issue 11 looked ambiguous but the first page makes everything clear – Gunn got to her before the LA Scoobies could and ever since she’s been doing her own part to help Gunn without them knowing.

Of course Gwen hasn’t necessarily turned evil, she’s just under the belief that Gunn is out to save them all and seeing as Gunn easily believes that himself, it’s easy to see why Gwen would be so keen to buy into it as well. I’m relieved that she’s not being deliberately evil but she is being stupid.

Spike naturally enough isn’t particularly sympathetic to Gwen’s plight. Then again Spike has always been a hypocrite. Lindsay used him brilliantly so the fact that Spike doesn’t entertain the idea that Gwen might be being duped by Gunn is annoying. These comics have succeeded in making Spike more annoying than when he was in Season Five of the series.

Connor on the other hand is naturally hurt. That guy’s history with women just keeps getting more and more tragic. His anger even stems into wondering whether or not Gwen was using the ‘no-touching’ as part of her act. I did believe Gwen when she told Connor that she fell in love with him as easily as I believed that she thinks Gunn is trying to do the right.

I could ask if believing in all of this suddenly makes me stupid but I’m dreading the response to that question. It’s also believable that Gwen would help Gunn out if it meant that she could touch people without electrocuting them. On the plus side she shoots a few volts of electricity in Spike’s direction, which in my opinion one of the best things she could’ve done.

Even if she does love Connor, it’s clear that betrayal has taken its toll on him and he threatens. Physically they could both hold their own against each other, unless Gwen used her powers against Connor. Scarier however is the fact that Connor threatens to make dragon food out of Gwen.

Elsewhere in what blatantly looks like a dream sequence or out of body experience of some sort Angel is chatting away to a mystery guest. Mainly Angel focuses on the moment he became human and how imagining this person kept his sanity intact. The best news ever is that the person in question is Cordelia.

Just like the televised Season Five, the comic book Season Six has sorely been lacking without Cordelia and her reappearance is the most welcomed thing this whole season has done full stop. Apart from looking radiant, this is the same witty and wonderful Cordy we got back in “You’re Welcome”.

I just loved the way she muses about Angel’s antics since their last encounter but while it’s utterly brilliant to see Cordy again, Angel’s right to assume the worst. However he is a gent in asking about her personal well being and Cordy can’t help but be a little amused by his flustered state to seeing her. Believe me he wasn’t the only who felt a little flustered in seeing the woman again.

Cordy doesn’t say much at first but does seem to try and point out that she isn’t pulling a parlour trick. More importantly she takes an interest in Angel’s seemingly nonplussed reaction to being killed. Angel however focuses his energies on Gunn’s mental imbalance and the effect he has on people.

Like any hero that takes on human allies, there are always potential casualties. Doyle, Wesley, Gunn, Fred and Cordy have all died in the space of five seasons and four of them aren’t completely back right either. Fred’s still the annoying Illyria, Wesley’s a ghost and largely powerless, Gunn’s one angry vampire and Cordy isn’t totally herself either but could actually be more useful than everyone else right now.

The shocking part is that Angel assumes (as did I) that Cordy is here to give him strength. Unfortunately she’s actually here to take him and here I was thinking that Grim Reapers weren’t supposed to look this gorgeous. However seeing as the Powers That Be can’t operate in LA right now, Angel’s mind goes back to wondering what has brought Cordy here.

Cordelia herself mentions the three possibilities – hallucination, actual Cordy or Wolfram And Hart manifestation to stick the knife. To be honest I think it’s the first, hope it’s second one but fear it could be the third one. Either way Cordy points out the irrelevance of whatever option it might be by getting Angel to concentrate on the fact that he’s only got one fate left.

To pull us away from the brilliance of Cordy’s comeback, Fred morphs back into Illyria when she has difficulty handling Gunn reappearing and Wesley disappearing all at once. Unfortunately it’s Nina who has to bear the brunt of Illyria’s anger when the loopy hell God explodes.

Illyria’s as tedious as Spike in this issue but fortunately we don’t have to tolerate her too much either. Although Nina isn’t quite as fascinating as other characters, I did feel sorry for her here. Her attempts to empathise with Illyria’s feelings of distress just have her thrown around the place like a rag doll.

While Illyria bores me senseless where her regal talk, at least she has the courtesy of leaving without breaking Nina in half. I think in the last two issues alone we’ve had enough deaths and maiming to last us for a bit. Illyria doesn’t need to add to the body count, unless it’s to kill Gunn’s motley crew.

Meanwhile another reunion takes place when Wesley and Gunn finally face off. It’s been hard trying to keep track of characters returning and those who haven’t interacted with certain people. Wesley of course chooses to arrive as Gunn comes to the realisation that Angel might have died prematurely.

That being said I do love Wesley and Gunn’s mutual sympathy to the dire states they’ve both ended up. Although they sound sarcastic in dialogue, it has to be sincere. Being a ghost has made Wesley powerless and being a vampire for Gunn has brought out the worst in him.

Needless to say Wesley’s also pretty pissed off that Gunn killed Angel as well. I felt for Wesley as it took him a while to realise that he was unable to save him. Even Cordy’s light hearted comment about the return to stuff suits couldn’t mask the sadness of Wesley’s rage. Wesley even explodes in anger before receiving a little message from Wolfram And Hart.

For a second Gunn believed that Wesley was going to be made corporal and so did I but this is Wolfram And Hart and Wesley’s no good to them as a human. However at least the evil law firm do give Wesley some much needed information on what exactly Gunn’s real role in the scheme of things really is.

Gunn deluded himself into thinking that he was going to save LA but all along Wolfram And Hart have been using him. In fact their main focus is still on the Shanshu prophecy and less about Gunn’s ‘heroism’. Not that Gunn particularly reacts well to such news.

In fact he tries to convince Wesley that he’s being tricked yet again but its Wesley who has to remind him that the Powers That Be can’t access the hell that LA is currently residing in. Angel on the other hand just kept assuming that his prophecy was destined for Spike all along. Does this mean that Spike isn’t special enough for said prophecy because I can live with that?

Still with Gunn making a foolish attempt to physically fight Wesley, Gwen tries her damn best not to become dragon food. It also doesn’t help her case that Connor is joining in on the attack but this segues into Wesley explaining that all along Wolfram And Hart just used everyone so they could get to Angel.

Wolfram And Hart have been doing that for five televised season so it’s hardly a shock but Angel’s intrigue matched by Cordy trying to get more answers makes me wonder what else is cooked up for him.

Then there’s also Gunn getting a bit eager for decapitation and Angel receiving one almighty vision from Wesley that inspires him to let Cordy help him to pass on. Where the hell is this going to go next? What did Angel see that ended up making him change his mind about passing over?

Also in “After The Fall Part 12”

The cover for this issue I got was Connor, Cordy (or was it Gwen/Nina?) and Spike over Angel’s grave.

Connor: “I don’t understand, Gwen.”
Spike: “It’s called being betrayed by the one you love. Welcome brother, the club meets Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

The dragon got the name of Cordelia which last issue confused Betta George and this issue Gwen.

Gwen: “I love you, Connor. Wasn’t part of the original plan but there it is. He can make it back to how it was. He’ll make it so I’ll be able to touch again but I can’t let you near him.”
Connor: “You’ve said.”

Angel (re dragon): “He thinks his name … is your name. Is that weird?”
Cordelia: “Completely. But understandably I’d be disappointed if I came back and you had a boring story for me. ‘Hey Cordelia, guess what I’ve been up to. Lots and lots of Sudoku’. ‘Hey Cordelia, guess who started a movie review blog’.”

If you look at the way Cordelia is drawn it’s consistent to the way Charisma Carpenter looked during the 2004-2005 TV season on Charmed.

Cordelia (to Angel): “I can’t usually come …here. I don’t do LA and I certainly don’t do this sliver of LA. I tried, believe me, the glimpses I’ve seen of you have broken my heart – but whatever Wolfram And Hart did, its keeping the good out. But I can come now because you’re close. I’m here – and honey, I am so sorry – to make your passing easier.”

Angel: “Stop what?”
Cordelia: “Ignoring what I just told you. Death comes for you weekly, Big Guy, but this time it’s sticking.”

Cordelia seems to be wearing a fairly similar outfit to the one she wore in “You’re Welcome”. The hair of course is noticeably longer.

Illyria: “Everyone comes back just to leave! Gunn, Angel, Wesley again! Stop testing me. It’s annoying. I don’t approve.”
Nina: “I understand and I’m right there with you.”
Illyria: “I know you are but I don’t care if you’re here. I want the ones I know. Now.”
Nina: “No, I mean. You missed him and then he comes back … and now he’s gone again.”

Gunn: “Vampire.”
Wesley: “Ghost.”
Gunn: “Sucks -”
Wesley “- Truly.”

There’s a street sign named Doyle above an image of a samurai nun. Doyle also appears on a cover with Angel and Cordy for this issue. Maybe he’s coming back as well.

Cordelia: “Poor Wesley.”
Angel: “I know. He feels useless.”
Cordelia: “I was talking more about the return to the men’s warehouse wardrobe but yeah, the useless thing, totally almost or a little more than worse.”

Wesley: “This wasn’t about you. None of it was.”
Gunn: “Goddamn liar.”
Wesley: “We were all pawns. Moved accordingly … and sacrificed when needed. All so they could have Angel.”

In the series of flashbacks who was the guy that was roughing up Connor? Could it have been Hamilton?

Cordelia: “Shush I’m trying to listen.”
Angel: “‘You’re trying to listen?’ You didn’t know about this?”
Cordelia: “White hats don’t have a plant in the black hat office. If we were that sneaky, we’d be, you know, grey hats.”

Wesley (to Angel): “Speaking of visions. The senior partners been kind enough to force me to deliver one last vision. For Angel’s eyes only. Your part in the apocalypse. The Shanshu prophecy carried out, right before your eyes. It is written. It has been witnessed. It is inevitable. I’m sorry, my friend.”

I just found out that from Issue 17 onwards this series is getting the name “Aftermath”. I know Buffy Season Eight have 40 issues but how many will Angel Season Six have for definite?

Cordelia: “What did you see?”
Angel: “Cordelia? I’m ready to go.”

Once again IDW fail to tell us when the next issue is out, though wikipedia have said the end of October.

After the worst issue last week, it’s incredible that the best issue came this time with “After The Fall Part 12”. Cordelia’s return was a bloody triumphant and one can only hope that things are finally going to get back to the series I fell in love with. However how is Angel going to get out of surrendering to death?

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

My Review of Angel's 6x11: "After The Fall Part 11"

Written by Brian Lynch
Artwork by Nick Runge

Fred: “Charles! Oh Angel, isn’t it wonderful? It’s beginning to feel more and more like home every day! I mean, more recent home, not “demons run/humans are cows”. Although it’s kind of like that too.”

And this comic is kind of like everything else we’ve seen in Angel’s sixth season so far. One minute you’re getting amazing stuff and the next you’re being saddled with a less than satisfactory story.

This issue unsurprisingly enough reunites Angel and Gunn after the two of them being apart for so long. Their face to face is a good set up but this is one issue I could’ve done without reading in a way.

Angel opens the issue by trying to remind himself that he’s in hell. Something like that should be easy to remember seeing as we’re now into the eleventh issue of the comic. Of course from an emotional perspective, Angel is just trying to remind himself of this fact because he’s had to deal with a lot.

Between friends dying, losing battles and becoming human, Angel discovering that Gunn has become a member of the undead couldn’t have come at a worst time. It also doesn’t help that Gunn’s minions seem determined to make their presence both known and felt at the same time.

Gunn’s sudden reappearance also inspires Illyria to morph back into Fred. At this point I just Fred back full time so I try not to get invested when this shell just coos about the gang being reunited. I suppose there could be an element of truth but this is too twisted and not the gang that I fell in love during the series hey days.

At least some action comes in Gunn’s henchmen trying to attack Angel. Instead of keeping his allies around, Angel forces both Nina and Fred/Illyria to get on the dragon and leave. On the plus side, the dragon at least scorches Gunn’s men. It would’ve been if the dragon hadn’t done that, right?

Of course just because the vampires get scorched, it doesn’t mean they’re dead and Angel has to put his fighting skills into use to do in the rest. Gunn in a show of kindness saves Angel by dusting one of the vampires himself. I would’ve loved for this to have been a hint that Gunn didn’t hate Angel but alas no.

Instead Angel discovers that Gunn has become a vampire and he’s pretty horrified by the reveal. It’s already documented that Gunn has been transformed into the very thing he hates but it doesn’t stop Angel from raising the point yet again. It’s also similarly transparent that Angel would second guess Gunn’s emotional state.

Is it really a shock that Gunn is trying to downplay his anger regarding his current predicament? Probably not but it’s definitely the most insincere form of downplay I’ve seen as well. Still some of the jokes he tries on, particularly ones about bald heads are alright enough.

In all of his guess work, Angel figures that Wolfram And Hart have had a hand in Gunn becoming a vampire. Gunn doesn’t alleviate the blame from them but he doesn’t focus too hard on it either. Still Angel does an incredibly stupid thing in following despite knowing full well that Gunn’s emotional state is erratic at best.

The Hyperion on the other hand just sees Spike trying to find out why Connor is irritated by his father. When reading that bit, it’s hard to determine whether Spike is genuinely concerned for Connor’s wellbeing or is just trying to stir thing. We already know that Angel has issues about the two of them being partners in crime.

Connor to his credit doesn’t give Spike any soot and decides to go back and save his father from impending doom. Gwen unfortunately tries to stick her oar in by concentrating on Connor’s trademark pouting. He can pout all he likes given that this isn’t Season 4 and that here; he’s easily one of the strongest characters going.

It’s also rather funny that Connor is playful in defending himself. Instead of getting stroppy, he gently reminds Gwen of her own whining abilities while giving us a brief rundown into the first time they met. The issue of sex raises its head too with both Connor and Gwen determined to find a way to be physically intimate with each other.

However this is all fine until Nina returns with dragon and Fred in tow. Nina explains about the vamps and then tells everyone that Gunn is their leader. This generates a reasonable reaction except for Spike being unconvinced that Gunn is a big bad of sorts. Although he raises a point about hell playing tricks on people, he just comes across as being a bit of a twat here.

Wesley also pops in to drop an opinion piece. It seems he’s also blissfully unaware of Gunn’s recent changes and wants to disbelief the theory that one of his closest friends is on the side of evil now. Connor thankfully interrupts all of this just by focusing on saving his father.

He does however assume too quickly that Gwen is going to try and talk him out of going on his hero mission. Fortunately for him, Gwen simply wants to back him up and let’s face it, having a mutant girlfriend is pretty beneficial during a mega battle as well as a big old dragon.

Fred meanwhile is too distracted with the idea of everyone coming. Apart from the obvious fact that we have yet to see Cordelia, Wesley’s right – nobody has come back right. So far we’ve Ghost Wesley, Vampire Gunn, Human Angel and the split personalities of Illyria and Fred. This comic is reuniting the gang, just not in a way that make you feel good as a reader.

Gunn meanwhile now seems to have taken Angel’s mantle for the old second guessing routine. Angel doesn’t have a chance to speak as Gunn yammers about what must be going through his former friend’s mind at the present. It’s not that Gunn isn’t making a valid point but it’s also not like we’re getting anything new either.

Angel tries to keep his cool. For the time Gunn doesn’t seem to realise that he’s human and suddenly Angel has to deal with a horrifying smell as well wondering what way his altercation with Gunn is going to go. The fact that Angel is preparing himself for the worst is good. The fact that he’s defenceless on the other hand isn’t.

Being a vampire in some ways does suit with Gunn’s sense of directness though. He immediately tells Angel when his transformation took place and does a better job of not sounding bitter when Angel was otherwise engaged. Turns out that while trading up for the dragon was also the same Gunn got to become immortal and develop a dependency for blood.

Introducing the rest of Gunn’s gang is less interesting. Apart from that brutish vampire who spent a few issues beating the crap out of Betta George, the rest of them are just generic and dull. There is however another uncomfortable moment when Angel sees a photo of the gang, which is a further reminder of the dystopian world our heroes have been shoved into.

Gunn seems to have a lot to say in this issue and while it might be insightful, he’s not imparting anything that you couldn’t already have guessed. There’s no secret in the fact that Gunn’s gang hates him more than their former leader and it’s also no secret that Gunn doesn’t entirely hold Angel responsible for the way things have gone down.

The interesting part however is the mention of the visions. Gunn seems to believe that Angel speeded up the process for him to become a vampire and seeing a disgusting creature nailed to the wall. The creature is question saw that Gunn was fated to become a vampire and Gunn decided to use this to take down his former leader.

However comparing some of his actions to Angel’s seems a touch unfair. That being said the dead creature at least left Gunn some gifts to ponder over but between filling Angel in about Betta George and captive slayers; the one thing Gunn really wants is his old friend’s help.

Gunn has a desire to save Los Angeles and while he doesn’t get a chance to explicitly explain what the genius plan might be, Angel tries to talk him out of it. Proving that Angel’s initial fears towards Gunn were justified, the recently made vampire just loses it and Angel gets the savage beating he should’ve seen coming.

However while Angel is a dab hand at defending himself and slaying more of Gunn’s uninteresting gang, there’s a nasty taste left when Gunn stabs after stripping him of his glamour. So Gunn knew all along about Angel being human and worse is the pleasure he seems to take from seeing his former friend in agony.

The most confusing part of this issue though is Gwen. Gunn bragged about finding a “her” first and by the end of this issue it does look like Gwen has turned traitor when she apologises to Connor. Then again it could be a mislead. Perhaps there’s another “her” that Gunn is referring to, one that would have more of an emotional impact on Angel than just Gwen.

Also in “After The Fall Part 11”

There are five different covers for this issue but the one I scored was a sword wielding Angel with a fire breathing dragon.

Betta George: “Wait a minute. That guy’s from your head, Gunn. He’s got Spike in his head! And why the heck is the dragon names that?!”

Since I’ve last reviewed this series, two issues of Spike: After The Fall have been released. I won’t be reviewing them.

Angel: “I, um – Was it … was it Wolfram And Hart?”
Gunn: “Nah, I mean, yeah, sure, in the sense that Wolfram And Hart was partially responsible for the big bang that the vamps in question used as a distraction, but no, not directly.”

Connor: “Can we figure out a way to, please? Because -”
Gwen: “I know, I made a list. It’s long and sordid.”

The cover for Issue 12 seems to have Connor and Spike but I’m not sure if the woman is Fred or Gwen or even Nina. The artwork is still inconsistent with this range.

Nina: “How do I put this … it was Gunn. Angel saw Gunn.”
Gwen: “We did too.”

Fred: “Isn’t this exciting? Everyone’s coming back.”
Wesley: “It would appear so, only the problem is … nobody’s coming back right.”

This comic showed an ad for the Doctor Who arc “The Forgotten”. Given that said arc isn’t being imported for UK/Irish fans, I’m a bitter man over that. Still maybe I’m not missing out.

Gunn: “Man, see, that’s why you wore the Captain’s stripes for so long, you ask the good questions. “When” is easy, it was while you were trading up for the dragon.”
Angel: “Pardon?”
Gunn: “Wasn’t a riddle, Angel. In the alleyway. You were otherwise engaged.”

Gunn (re dead demon): “Many gifts actually. Then he passed on. I keep him up there for tribute.”
Angel: “Maybe you could bury him.”
Gunn: “It’s an idea or maybe just a drape over him.”

The visions we saw were of the sphere, Betta George, Wesley, Fred/Illyria and that demon Gunn had slain earlier on in the series.

Gunn: “Can’t believe I’m about to say this … Angel. Help me.”
Angel: “I will, Gunn. I -”
Gunn: “Help me to carry out what the visions want. Help me to save Los Angeles.”

Gunn (to Angel): “One of these things is not like the other. Should I turn you or feed on you? Bet you wish you could tell me what to do now, huh, old man? I kinda do, too. You know what? Gonna let you die. But you should shuffle off knowing one thing. I found her first.”

Issue 12 was released on September 4th along with Buffy’s “Time Of Your Life Part 3”. Reviews for both of them will come soon.

As issues went, this one annoyed me. The ending for “After The Fall Part 11” should have me on the edge of my seat but it didn’t. I can’t imagine that Joss Whedon or Brian Lynch would dare kill off Angel.

Rating: 5 out of 10.