Angel: After The Fall #1-7 (IDW Publishing)

angelheader.jpgJoss Whedon continues his unfairly cancelled vampire-detective spinoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in comic book form, showing what would have happened had there been a season 6.

 

 

22 pgs. FC; $3.99 ea.

(W: Brian Lynch; A: Franco Urru)

 

Angel: After The Fall is an addicts-only proposition. If you haven’t seen all five seasons of cult comic and television auteur Joss Whedon’s unfairly cancelled vampire-detective series, you won’t understand the storyline here, which picks up where the TV show’s apocalyptic finale left off. Thanks to choices that Angel, the titular vampire-with-a-soul, made in Season 5 of the TV series, his home base of Los Angeles has literally been sent to hell by his arch nemesis, the evil pandimensional law firm Wolfram and Hart. His close ally Wesley, killed in the series finale but bound by W&H’s postmortem employment clause, has been resurrected as an incorporeal ghost. And the City of Angels has been parceled out into territories ruled by demon Lords.

The rest of his motley crew of friends and associates (which currently includes the god-king Illyria, fellow ensouled vampire Spike, cabaret singing demon Lorne, Angel’s son Connor, and a shockingly altered Charles Gunn) is scattered across Hell-A, struggling to survive. Naturally, Angel’s none too happy about what’s happened to his city—or what’s happened to his body, but that’s another spoiler entirely—and so, using his newfound dragon sidekick, he travels throughout L.A., meeting up with other characters, kicking demon tail, and trying to find out how to put things right.

The cover to the first issue of Angel: After the Fall. Click for a larger image.Frankly, it’s amazing how well Angel translates to the comic book medium, thanks to Franco Urru’s noir-dark pencils, and Brian Lynch’s razor-sharp scripting (which is overseen by Whedon, natch.) Lynch and Urru aren’t new to these characters-their non-canonical Spike comic series, Shadow Puppets and Asylum, were rather well received by fans and critics alike, and both were hand-picked by Whedon himself to run the show here. One of Lynch’s original characters, the laid-back telepathic fish Betta George, even becomes canon in After The Fall. Lynch has a real feel for the kind of snappy patter we expect from Whedon’s characters. You’ll almost hear the actors’ voices in your head as you read, though Urru’s likenesses aren’t always up to snuff. Both writer and artist do their best work with Spike (unsurprisingly), but as the series progresses, giving each character more page time, everyone is sounding and looking more familiar. And best of all, some of the rumored plotlines Whedon was planning to use if Angel received a sixth season are being explored here in fascinating detail. (cough, Illyria, cough.)

From a continuity standpoint, everything that’s going on in Angel "Season 6" makes sense, given the apocalyptic battle we saw the gang facing in the last episode. Unlike the Buffy Season 8 series that Dark Horse is currently publishing, Angel: After The Fall is fast-paced and true to the spirit of the show. Though the team is scattered at the moment, one gets the sense that Lynch knows they need to come together, and will bring them together eventually—while over in Buffy’s comic, it seems as though the writers are ham-handedly trying to keep them apart. Still, the return of both of these cult-favorite shows, in any form, is a huge treat for any rabid fan—and it’s only going to get more delicious when Spike receives his own Lynch-penned miniseries this summer. | J. Bowers

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