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(Review) Angel 6.02 'After The Fall'

21st December 2007 (22:38)

The thing that struck me more than anything else about After the Fall #2 was the amount of exposition it contained. Almost all the questions that were raised by the first issue - bam! - they're answered now. Although there are plenty of other questions raised for future explanation. It certainly keeps the story moving along at a fast pace, and it's a big contrast to Buffy Season 8 which seems more like the weaving of a vast tapestry with occasional clue-threads being woven into the mesh. Of course, I think part of this is the effects of 40 issues versus 12; unlike Joss, Brian doesn't have the luxury of hanging around. Personally, I don't have a problem with either approach, but I suspect the AtF approach will be more accessible to a lot of readers.

The issue starts with basically a recap of the Wesley situation from the previous issue: Angel doesn't trust him, and feels guilty about that  because his current situation is Angel's fault. Nothing new here - but it reinforces the theme of how isolated Angel is.

I was confused by the reflections in Wes's glasses until I realised it was the taillights of Angel's car. Another fun little touch was the change to the Hollywood sign...

Angel's deadpan approach to Nina - even half-asking her for a date - is funny. It makes me wonder if her hostility to him is genuine, based on her thinking he's betrayed them all, or if it's just another side-effect of werewolfism along with her bloodlust, bicuriousness, staring button eyes and unfeasibly enhanced curves. She's certainly talking to Angel perfectly reasonably by the end of their encounter.

Best joke of the issue would be the new Lord of Westwood being eaten by an allosaurus demon. And then we get Angel's first encounter with Connor - and, not entirely unpredicably but still effectively, father and son get on together perfectly well. I liked this scene - especially Connor's reaction to the news that Angel killed Burge's son.

Gwen isn't a character I'm particularly in tune with, because I've not watched the episodes she appears in quite so miuch as some of the others. Still, it's nice to see the episode has a tough, capable and competent woman in it.

The scene with Gunn is the highlight of the episode, both for his interaction with George (who is seriously cute) and the insight into his personality. We definitely have proof now - if it were still needed - that the personality of the human dictates the personality of the vampire. Gunn refusing to admit he's a vampire is a clever twist - and it seems his vampire minions are rather sarcastic about this when they're out of his earshot. Him thinking that he's still the good guy, that Angel has lost the mission, and it's up to Gunn to set things right is even more of a clever twist. And he thinks that having a soul isn't important, even as he proves it really is by beating George to a pulp and thus ruining any chance of getting his willing cooperation... something he's even fully aware of himself, yet can't stop himself. I'm actually reminded of Spike in seasons 5-6 here, in the belief that he can be a white hat even without a soul. I can't see this ending well...

Note that we get an explanation of who vamped Gunn - not Spike or Angel, but (so far as we know) some random vampires. Plus the mystic orb gets a name and a description of its powers.

Angel has apparently named his dragon "Dfddrh". I've a feeling that's not his real name, and the font was supposed to be too small to read. :-)

And now we cut to Spike and his devoted harem of demon chicks. And apparently he's now the lord of Beverley Hills. According to his story, he thinks he's been sent to Heaven as a reward for his role in the fight - although presumably this is a special demonic annex of Heaven for vampires with souls. It's not entirely clear if he genuinely believes this, or he's just spinning a line. Certainly, he's another one who thinks Angel betrayed him, by setting off the apocalypse - I suspect Spike's main complaint is that Angel promised him a fight against insurmountable odds, without mentioning that W&H would also end the world and make all the innocent humans suffer too.

I wonder if Spider is going to be an important character? She seems to have supernatural senses.

And the final reveal... seems to be a case of mistaken identity. Angel saw the runes that Gunn's vampires drew on the stadium walls, recognised the script - and jumped to the false conclusion that Illyria was responsible. Oh, and if Spike is a Lord, and he's also Illyria's pet, what does that make Illyria?

And that's it for another month...


ETA  - apologies for the lateness in replying, caused by me travelling home for Christmas, visiting various relatives, etc. And the two anonymous comments below are from me.

Comments

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 22nd December 2007 01:21 (UTC)

he proves it really is by beating George to a pulp and thus ruining any chance of getting his willing cooperation... something he's even fully aware of himself, yet can't stop himself. I'm actually reminded of Spike in seasons 5-6 here

It reminded me of that scene where Spike practices giving chocolates to mannequin!Buffy and ends up beating her over the head with the box.

Angel has apparently named his dragon "Dfddrh". I've a feeling that's not his real name, and the font was supposed to be too small to read. :-)

Someone suggested "Mandy." IMO, until we get a better name (or a reason to believe the dragon's name is an important plot point) that's what I'll be calling it.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 24th December 2007 15:36 (UTC)

But... it's a male dragon. Perhaps 'Barry' would be a better name?

And it seems to me that 'lack of a soul' (as in Spike, Gunn)= 'poor impulse control, a simple pleasure in inflicting suffering on others, and a tendency to view other people as things.'

Posted by: joe_sweden (joe_sweden)
Posted at: 2nd January 2008 16:04 (UTC)

Does that mean souls are made of ritalin? Well, lack of a soul giving you ADD and making you incapable of delayed gratification and all...

A mate of mine did an Angel/dragon shipper fic a while ago (after many beers) and it was called Mandy in that. Would be very cool if it was that name! Though, I wonder if Connor would say Angel's weird based on that, given that he knows about Angel's Mandy obsession, surely? They did sing Mandy together (well, to the tune of mandy anyway...)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 22nd December 2007 10:07 (UTC)
Duster_by_awmp

Great review.

I suspect the AtF approach will be more accessible to a lot of readers.

It definitely is for me.

According to his story, he thinks he's been sent to Heaven as a reward for his role in the fight - although presumably this is a special demonic annex of Heaven for vampires with souls. It's not entirely clear if he genuinely believes this, or he's just spinning a line.

I believe he knows he's a prisoner who can't leave and is terribly frustrated with situation - otherwise why is he so angry at Angel? I don't think Spike enjoys his position - on both shows he has been depicted as a person who doesn't give a damn about material wealth. And he clearly resents these girls and thinks only about Buffy . But, seriously, it may be his private hell - not to be able to fight the good fight.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 24th December 2007 15:40 (UTC)

It's certainly possible that this is supposed to be a personalised Hell for Spike - and I'll note that Brian Lynch has a tendency to emphasise the side of his personality that's prone to grandstanding and boasting to make the best of a bad situation.

On the other hand, it may be that Spike, as a non-W&H employee, really is being treated to a version of Paradise - because this is not his torment, but an extra-special one for Angel...

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 24th December 2007 16:22 (UTC)
Angel

On the other hand, it may be that Spike, as a non-W&H employee, really is being treated to a version of Paradise - because this is not his torment, but an extra-special one for Angel...

Or maybe W&H has put Spike into his private paradize as the ultimate insult to Angel... :)

Posted by: mrs_underhill (mrs_underhill)
Posted at: 22nd December 2007 16:30 (UTC)
Illyria says - canon!

Great review, Stormwreath. And Angel:ATF containing more exposition per issue is due not just to different format of the story: 12-issue movie vs. 40-issue season. It is due to the density of Lynch's script and Urru's art. They pack much more information into the same number of pages, and I love them for it.
I suspected it but didn't realize how much more until I worked with the transcripts for both series (I translate them into Russian for my friends). Lynch #1 transcript (the dialogue) was 2.5 longer than an average script from Buffy! So at this rate we will get 30 issue equivalent of Angel-6 vs. 40 for Buffy-8. Which is great, because you have to wait a month bertween the issues but at least with ATF you get a bigger dose. :)
And Urru's art is suited very well to this dense story. The panels are smaller, have more detail and give more info.

I don't think Angel asks Nina for a date: he can see she's barely lucid, slipping in and out of the wolf, and so he just backs away carefully, saying the equivalent of "there, there".

Kozlow eaten by the allosaurus - I grumbled about this page at first as a page spent on random demons, but I warmed up to it. :) Especially when I recognized Kozlow from Asylum.

And I don't think Spike believes in his tales, and neither do his ladies: as Spider says, it's a "food story". I think he's being bitterly sarcastic in his tale, bitter about the outcome of their fight, as his launching at Angel shows.

Posted by: mrs_underhill (mrs_underhill)
Posted at: 22nd December 2007 16:32 (UTC)
Illyria says - canon!

Arrggh, I meant "it's a good story" of course. What a silly misprint. :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 24th December 2007 15:49 (UTC)

Lynch #1 transcript (the dialogue) was 2.5 longer than an average script from Buffy!
Really? that's a lot more than I'd expect. Though I suppose there are a lot of dialogue-free action scenes in Season 8 so far which will affect the totals.

I don't think Angel asks Nina for a date
Maybe not exactly, but "Maybe we can do that some time?" does sound vaguely date-like. And I think Nina is still lucid at least half the time - both in this issue and the last she speaks rationally enough in response to conversation.

And now i'll have to re-read Asylum to look out for Kozlow... :-)

Edited at 2007-12-24 15:57 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 22nd December 2007 20:04 (UTC)
spike: after the fall 2

Great review, and count me in as another one who finds this format more accessible than season 8. Also, I don't think Spike believes his story either. His words to Angel show that he knows perfectly well he's in hell. I think we'll find out more about his situation next issue and what's going on with both him and Illyria.

Also, I don't think Angel was asking Nina for a date either. More like backing away very slowly and carefully while trying to humour her.

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 23rd December 2007 10:39 (UTC)

Looks like I’m the lone minimalist to comment. Less is more, people. Although, with Wesley, Nina, Connor and Gwen issue two doesn’t so much answer questions raised in one as continue to show us more of the same, while further developments on the Angel and Gunn fronts are achieved by the rather transparent devices of expositionary voiceover and unforced monologue. Writing-wise the best part may have been Angel and Spike’s little spat as at least there the reveals were achieved more by what they both didn’t say.

Gwen on the show was an amoral somewhat embittered thief who only helped the fang gang out of enlightened self-interest. She became a much more poignant character in Players when she picked Gunn to help her acquire a device that would allow her to be touched without electrocuting the person reaching out to her. If Gwen and vampire!Gunn are planned to interact it cold make her involvement worthwhile but so far she’s playing girl Friday to Connor for no obvious reason.

Gunn still trying to do the right thing fueled by anger at Angel is believable both in terms of his previous attitudes to vampires in general and Angel specifically. I never got the impression that he was ever as impressed by soul metaphysics as the others so it was jarring to end the scene with the joke about being living proof for that reason as well as it undercutting his big bad credentials by making him look buffoonish. (People better at reading the art than I have claimed that his beating up of George was in order to extract some eye of fish so not quite Spike and the chocolate box.)

Overall there’s some potentially juicy story being set up, it just feels as if the issue could have benefited by one more edit. Nina’s appearance was redundant as well as offensive, Gunn’s scene would have been improved by cutting the parting jest and Angel and Spike squabbling went on a little long. I also really wish they hadn’t gone with the pet reference from Illyria but that’s a personal nails on chalkboard thing.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 24th December 2007 15:56 (UTC)

dissenting opinions are always welcome. :-)

Gwen always struck me as a comic book character pure and simple: we were even shown her origin story... So it's not really surprising, I suppose, to find her featuring strongly here.

Not to mention that with Fred, Cordelia and Lilah all dead, there was a need to get more female protagonists from somewhere...

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 24th December 2007 16:45 (UTC)
Angel

Gwen always struck me as a comic book character pure and simple: we were even shown her origin

I think she was conceived as a possible regular, hence her "grand entrance" with backstory. AFAIK, Alexa Davalos wasn't available in season 5 because she had been shooting The Riddick Chronicles, so Gwen's story has been dropped. Hopefully writers had planned something juicy for her and will develop it now.

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 24th December 2007 16:40 (UTC)

If Gwen and vampire!Gunn are planned to interact it could make her involvement worthwhile

Good point.

I also really wish they hadn’t gone with the pet reference from Illyria but that’s a personal nails on chalkboard thing.

I think it wasn't made as a joke, but as a set-up for the next scene where (hopefully) we find out if Spike is Illyria's slave now.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 24th December 2007 17:53 (UTC)

I took it as simple characterisation. It's what Illyria called Spike on the show, so it's what she calls him in the comic.

Or maybe, like Beck, Illyria has picked up some of Spike's own verbal mannerisms. He called Buffy 'pet' enough times, after all...

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 26th December 2007 18:56 (UTC)

It's not being a joke doesn't actually make it any less irritating. It's partly a "little marshamllows" thing (something gets one mention on the show and it grows like a cancer in fanon). It's also that when Illyria talking about wanting Spike as her pet it implied amused contempt, while fanon and Lynch have it implying an affection for Spike that I never saw from her and would think unlikely to develop. Spike is no Wesley from her point of view, he's a lightweight.

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 25th December 2007 08:34 (UTC)

Motherfuck me blind on toast if this didn't take everything I loved about the previous issue, make it go to eleven, and me end up feeling like Buffy S8 has some *major* catching up to do if it wants to be this good.

Basically, I get the feeling like a lot of the new Buffy story is the way it is because it's a comic. But the new Angel? Feels like it could be on screen. Which kinda makes it hurt more that it isn't.

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