Angel #38 will be the last issue bearing writer Bill Willingham’s name, and much of the issue makes it clear that his story arcs have been cut short in the need to mesh with Dark Horse’s Buffy Season Eight. Surprisingly, what typically would be a bad sign for a comic may be the best turn of events to happen in Angel!
Since the beginning of his run on Angel, Willingham’s writing has been plagued with bad fan buzz. While I’ve been tough on Willingham before, especially when it came to his writing of "Spike" and "Illyria," whose voices he never mastered, I do think he had a number of interesting ideas that were simply poorly executed (i.e.: "Spike" writing his own prophecies and his disappearing soul, “Illyria” going into heat and infecting the rest of the team with her lust, etc.). Many of Willingham’s plots seemed rooted in the Whedonverse, but came off cheesy or forced.
No matter your opinion, Willingham did help clear out most of the rubbish left over from Kelley Armstrong’s arc, and it looks like most of his story lines are headed for the same fate. Most of the plot twists are either wrapped up in this issue or brushed aside. And, an old enemy keeps popping up in IDW Angel comics (this one included) and is continues to demand our attention. Here’s a quick summary of the issue:
“Angel” and company show up to rescue "Connor" from The Sisterhood and end up in a fight, of course. Just when things are looking bad, "Connor" unintentionally releases a shiny, new super power and vaporizes the demons. After the battle, "Spike" and "Illyria" take off to their own series, and "Angel" and "Connor" share a moment on the roof top before dad passes the reigns of the family business to his son and takes a leave of absence for the time being.
Later, a man approaches "Connor" at the Hyperion and asks for "Angel." "Connor" tells him "Angel" is off for a bit, but tells him to leave his card. Of course, it reads “Wolfram & Hart.”
– IDW is continuing to synch up with Dark Horse’s Buffyverse, most notably in this issue with "Spike" exiting and mentioning under his breath how "Angel" will need his help soon. It’s a little thing and maybe I should be getting used to it by now, but I can’t stop marveling at the possibility of a full blown comic book universe incorporating all things Buffy and Angel!
-"Angel" and "Connor" have a beautiful scene on the roof top. It’s not very often that a scene reads as something that belongs on screen (more than it does on page), but this is one of those moments. You can literally hear the words coming out of the actors’ mouths. I’m not sure if the credit should go to Willingham, Tischman, or Huehner, but someone deserves a pat on the back. This scene also works really well at pushing the plot forward, as "Connor" taking over the business and "Angel" stepping back seems like the natural progression of these characters. I can easily see "Connor" manning Los Angeles while "Angel" travels the world, checking in from time to time.
-As harsh as it may be, it’s a blessing that Willingham is gone. The series finally seems focused again for the first time since After The Fall,and I’m sure that has a lot to do with the hard work of Tischman and Huehner.
-This issue was extremely short, so not a lot happened aside from "Angel” handing the company over to "Connor." Part of this has to do with the "Eddie Hope" story by Bill Williams that is still taking up a few pages every issue. Next month should be the conclusion to Williams’ story, so the problem will most likely be solved then.
-There were a lot of abrupt ends to story lines due to Willingham’s departure, but none seemed to suffer more than "Connor." In the past few months, the demon armor known as The Sisterhood claimed him as their leader, he’s been stabbed to death and brought back to life by The Sisterhood, and he’s gotten superpowers reminiscent of the glow thingy "Cordelia" used to do. I’m sure there was no real way to do this cleanly, but it all came off a bit rushed and unplanned.
In general, there wasn’t a lot of chatter online in regards to this issue. While there were a number of comments on how many readers enjoyed the scene between "Connor" and "Angel," I believe a number of readers have been disenchanted with the Angel series, and, therefore, there are less readers and less discussion. Also, in contrast to the epic events taking place in < i>Buffy, especially now that both "Angel" and "Spike" are there, it just doesn’t seem as exciting. That being said, hopefully, this is the start of a new direction for the comic book, and who can really argue with a return from Wolfram & Hart?
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer