Angel #41 Review: Our Vamps Past Plays Out In The Future

Here’s a quick summary of issue #41:
 
In current day Los Angeles, Angel Investigations struggles with the news that “Angel” might be dead. With tension building between “Gunn” and “Connor,” the vampire’s son decides it’s time to ask for some help from some old acquaintances. With “Ms. Weathermill” in tow, “Connor” approaches the newly reestablished Wolfram & Hart, who is surprisingly willing to help with the ‘kill James’ plan!
 
Meanwhile, in the future, “Angel” discovers a museum dedicated to…. well, himself as “James” and his sister “Rowant” get reacquainted with each other in an incestual fashion.  Later, when “Angel” is knocked unconscious, his assailant is revealed to be “Illyria,” and the two demon pets she recently acquired in her own mini-series.

Finally, “Gunn” discovers that “Connor’s” new demon incinerating super powers are the result of him becoming a being similar to “James.” The issue ends with “Gunn” considering to kill “Connor” before he becomes indestructible, and possibly tyrannical, like “James.”

 
The Good:

 

 
-The “Angel” Museum!  IDW has had a streak of brilliantly humorous situations for “Angel” to experience (most of them courtesy of master scribe, Brian Lynch) during his comic series run, and they hit it out of the park once again!  The specifics that were drawn into the splash page of “Angel” taking in his many exhibits really added to the effect of this one.  Keen fans should be able to spot a number of specific Angel artifacts, including “Lindsey McDonald’s” severed hand.  I can only imagine what poor soul had to dig that up from whichever dark corner it was rotting.  Ugh!

 


 
– Wolfram & Hart are back, baby!  The law firm from Hell is such a great villain, and it feels awesome to have it back in play.  It was exciting to have Wolfram & Hart rear its head in Las Vegas during Lynch’s Spike mini-series, but the evil firm has always been “Angel’s” nemesis, and it’s nice to have them home. I also have to give credit to IDW for not rushing to this too quickly.  While it might seem a waste to not deal with Wolfram & Hart until the very last arc that IDW will ever do, it added a sense of reality to the law firm’s pseudo demise following the events of Angel: After the Fall.  Having them disappear completely for such a long time made their crawl back to the top that much more satisfying for fans of the bloodsucking lawyers. And, while having team “Angel” team up with this big bad may seem old hat, I’m dying to see what glowing items of coolness were offered to “Connor” by his new legal team.
 

 

-Connections are forming to Illyria: Haunted and maybe Buffy Season Eight! While it has yet to be revealed in either Angel or Illyria: Haunted how and why “Illyria” is in the future, the fact that she is and has her demonic “pets” from her own mini-series is a sweet taste of the congruent Buffy-verse we’ll experience in Dark Horse’s Buffy Season Nine.  They’ve been doing some similar things with Lynch’s Spike mini-series, going even further by bringing Buffy’s “Willow” in as a featured character.  I’m happy that IDW got to play with this before their time with Angel was up.  While there’s no confirmation on this, the closer we get to the end of IDW’s run on Angel, the more I feel like we’ll see “Angel’s” return from the future synch up with his discussion with the “Twilight” dog in Buffy Season Eight.  If that is the case, one may want to reexamine a question many asked during Buffy Season Eight: why would “Angel” make the decision to become “Twilight” and abandon this world for a new one with “Buffy” while “Connor’ was still in the world?  Given “Gunn’s” deadly words at the end of this issue and Dark Horse Editor Scott Allie’s recent comments regarding how Season Nine would not employ all of the Angel characters, should “Angel” be fearful for his son?

The Bad:
 
-The artist flip flop.  While I’ve enjoyed almost every artist that has worked on the Angel series and have spoken up in defense of a number of them who were dealt harsh reviews by fans, I am slightly disappointed that IDW couldn’t get its ducks in a row to give us one artist for the entire final arc of their Angel run.  It’s little things like this that make the difference between good and great.  Just imagine how jarring it will be to read the final collected volume of IDW’s Angel series, only to watch the art vary between different styles. It would be as if they filmed the final season of Angel, but had one episode where everyone was played by “fill-in” actors.  Ugh.
 
– “Connor” is a bitca again… sigh.  While I was aghast at much of what Bill Willingham wrote into the Angel comic, his odd interest in “Connor” did transform the character into a fairly decent and non-annoying cast member.  “Connor” had an even stronger presence in Brian Lynch’s Angel: After the Fall.  Alas, all that has gone out of the window in this issue, and “Connor” is back to acting like a whiny, little kid!  At one point, team “Angel” is discussing the possibility that “Angel” may be dead, and what insight do we get when we pop inside “Connor’s” head?  Maybe something that shows he’s stepping up to the plate as the head of Angel Investigations?  Nope.  Instead, he thinks, “Damn it, Angel.  I wanted to be on my own, to be an adult.  But not like this.” Yeah, I guess “Angel’s” a real ass for possibly being dead and leaving you in charge, “Connor.”  It may seem stupid, character wise, but I hope “Gunn” does kill you… brat.

 

“Mr Polyphemus” has a new look… for no reason.  Apparently, he got an upgrade. And, by upgrade, I mean he decided to look less cool. Nice job, ball.

 
The Ugly:
 
Fan reaction has been mostly positive for this issue, with many loving the return of artist Stephen Mooney.  Although, the forum discussions and online reviews of Angel have become noticeably fewer in the recent mo
nths. Here are the most interesting comments and ideas I read online:
 
-“James” vs. “Buffy”? While I find it highly unlikely, one fan contemplated whether we would see “James” take on slayers in the current or future timeline.  It was even suggested that future “James” may be the one to finally take down “Buffy,” which would make it even more personal for our vampire hero.


 
– “Anne,” the double agent? Many fans were suspicious of “Anne” in this issue.  In my opinion, she was written a little off, but who knows if that was intentional.  One fan suggested that “Anne” may be an agent sent by “James” to infiltrate the team.  Another suggested, referencing the cover of the issue, that perhaps “Anne” is secretly “Rowant,” and that it is “Connor” laying at her feet.
 
IDW looks to be ending their time with Angel on a strong note, boys and girls!  Come back next month and see if “Gunn” has the stones to punk “Connor” the way that he deserves!
 
 
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer
 
 

 

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