Written by: Bryant Dillon, Special to CC2K
After a great issue last month and the excitement of the coming ties to Dark Horse’s Buffy Season Eight, I want to say good things about issue #42 of Angel. Sadly, this issue seems to slow the pace of the story. In addition, it contains writing that feels off for certain characters, leaving this reader feeling as if IDW has given us a filler issue when they should be making the best use of their time left with Angel. Still, there are some interesting things going on and a fairly surprising cliffhanger, so, perhaps, this issue will end up being the wind up for IDW’s final punch.
Here’s a quick summary of issue #42:
In the future, Angel has come face to face with a more serene, time traveling Illyria who becomes his ally in the battle against James.
Meanwhile, back in present day Los Angeles, Connor and the gang get ready to take the offensive on James while Gunn secretly debates whether to take out Connor before he also becomes a god-like threat. It’s also revealed that Anne has a lethal demon spawn gestating inside her, courtesy of James. With the help of some demon blaster rifles on loan from Wolfram & Hart, the gang takes out a number of the demons employed by James, but soon find themselves outnumbered.
Still in the future, Angel and Illyria hunt down James, breaking into his head office. To their surprise, they discover that James has been decapitated and in his place stands his sister Rowant ready to play.
• Illyria Version 2.0! It seems that IDW is determined to bring Illyria some major revelations before they’re done with her, in both their Angel and Illyria: Haunted series. While the Illyria in Illyria: Haunted searches for a greater purpose in the deeper well, the Illyria who has joined Angel in the future is a being of patience and understanding far out of the grasp of the demon goddess we know and love. This future version of Illyria warns Angel of the perils of teaming with Wolfram & Hart and admits to actually caring for the vampire! She also carries an ominous presence, cryptically hinting that she may be aware of tragedy waiting for the hero further down the timeline. Since she does have her time-altering powers back to some extent, it’s not unlikely that she’s aware of future events, and her demeanor and change in character point to major turning points in her past. While some may be caught off guard by the abrupt advancement in her character, I think Illyria has needed something like this for a while! I’m going to give IDW the benefit of the doubt and hope that there’s a payoff for this choice by the writers.
• A Nod From The Angel Season 2 Episode, “Dear Boy”! While it’s not a huge moment in the comic, I do appreciate when the writers tie in locations we’ve seen on the show. It was a treat to have Illyria return to The Deeper Well in Illyria: Haunted, and now James goes and sets up his demon harvesting headquarters in the Thrall Demon’s old pad! Makes me want to pull out the DVDs…
• Mr Polyphemus has a new look… NOT! Remember that whole pointless bit last issue where Mr. P got an upgrade that included a sparkly new look? Well, it was just as pointless as I thought, because it’s not even present in this issue. I’m not sure if I completely missed something or if the artist just forgot and drew Mr. P with his old look, but either way, it’s bad.
• Gunn seems a bit off. While Gunn’s possible assassination of Connor is one of the more exciting elements in the comic right now, it also feels a little lame. With all that Gunn has been through with this group of people, would he really be prepared to kill Connor without discussing it with someone besides the floating ball? I know that it seems (in the below panel) that Anne also knows of Gunn’s plan, but I think that the line is supposed to belong to Mr. P and it is a lettering error. Either that or the writer didn’t care to include us in on the fact that Gunn was sharing his vendetta and that Anne really didn’t have any reservations about killing Connor. Either way, it seems like weak writing and makes the characters’ actions feel forced and cheap. Much like the panel where Gunn says that shooting down demon henchman is “like the coolest video game ever.” Ugg.
• Um… not much happens. While the death of James is a big event, it happens on the last page. Let’s just hope that this is the calm before the storm.
Despite my personal misgivings about this issue, it received a mostly positive response from the online fan base. Most readers were happy with the Rowant twist and the new version of Illyria. Here are a few other topics brought up on the net:
• We know whose headless body was on the cover of Angel #41! Alas, it was not Connor, but James. Tricky, tricky writers!
• Who is going to bite it before the finale? Readers seemed to single out Anne and Illyria as possible casualties in the coming battle. Many think that James was being truthful about Anne’s condition being irreversible and are betting that she won’t make it. As for Illyria, some felt that her cryptic comments and new found peacefulness will lead her to make a possible sacrifice for the greater good. My personal bet has been on Connor, since I feel that the loss of his son is necessary for Angel to make the decision to become Twilight. Some readers posted online that Scott Allie has made mention of Connor and Buffy finally meeting in Buffy Season Nine.
Angel will be back in a month, but, in the meantime, we can look forward to Brian Lynch’s Spike #5, which features an appearance by a certain red-headed witch! Sweet Odin!
Bryant Dillon is the President of Fanboy Comics, an independent comic book publishing company based in Los Angeles, Calif. He has produced numerous short films including Something Animal and Batman of Suburbia, and served as Legal Adviser for the film Walken on Sunshine. For more interviews, blogs, and reviews by Bryant and the FBC staff, check out the Fanboy Comics website at FanboyComics.net or sign up for the e-newsletter, The Fanboy Scoop, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.