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.

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