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August 13 2008

(SPOILER) Discuss Angel: After The Fall #11. Events come to a head, will Angel and co survive?

Wow. Apart from Chapter 5, this is my favorite issue so far.

So many things I was expecting from the confrontation between Angel and Gunn, I missed some of the little details -- like the fact that Angel didn't even know going in that it *was* a confrontation. It's a small and in some ways irrelevant detail, but I like that Angel and everyone else instantly assumed Gunn was a rescue operation.

Further, Angel continues to impress me as a reenergized hero. Much of what I found heroic about Angel vanished in Season 5 and ultimately landed them all in Hell-A. Now, as a human, he's been getting it back and then some. I love that he doesn't even just want to arbitrarily kill Gunn. Hell, you can almost hear him thinking "we get out of here and Willow can curse him as long as we don't have to kill him." And most of all, I love how much braver Angel has to be to do what he does without the advantages of being a vampire. I also liked seeing reminders that Angel is actually pretty smart -- like how he decides to try to play Gunn. In the televised seasons, Angel's intellect became a little bit of a punchline at times -- he wasn't the smooth-operating liar and improv artist he was in, for example, 1.04 "I Fall To Pieces" or 2.04 "Untouched" in using fake personas. Here, we see that skill come back as he tries to con Gunn about the visions.

Angel's injuries, while pretty horrifying, are somewhat encouraging to me. I'm a staunch opponent of re-vamping Angel, and the mere fact that Gunn decides not to do it gives me hope that it won't happen -- something else will happen. Maybe Glowy-Just-Let-It-Go-Baby-Cordy with Healing Energy Action is lurking out of frame to heal human Angel. But to re-vamp him now is to either have the main villain just say "actually, on second thought I will turn you", or to have Spike do it. I already saw Josef re-vamp Mick on "Moonlight", so I'm in no hurry to see that story again.

Now to turn to Gunn -- simply awesome. This might seem like a bold statement, but in just a few appearances and this issue's long exposition, Brian Lynch has managed to make Gunn a more riveting and compelling villain than Joss himself was able to make Angelus. Yes, I know "plotted by Joss Whedon", that's not my point. I mean Gunn in "Angel: After the Fall" written by Lynch > Angelus in "Innocence", "Becoming, Part I", and "Becoming, Part II" written by Joss. That is just how impressed I am with how Gunn has developed. He has this sort of evil-but-tragic energy that I think we've only seen anything like with Darla in Season 2 of "Angel". But this is much grander in scale because while Darla was basically evil and loving it again, Gunn really does think he can be the hero. He kills Slayers, he kills women he rescues, but he disconnects that completely from what he does in pursuit of his grand plan. And what a cool idea to give him the visions (if that's what they are)! It has echoes of Harth in "Fray", but is much more A) useful as powers go and B) poignant, since it's something that connects to Angel through both Cordy and Doyle.

General observations -- I loved all the "B" plot stuff at the Hyperion. I love Gwonnor, they are so great. I love Nina still being into Angel and totally love Angel/Nina. I love that everybody implicitly knows they shouldn't tell Spike about Angel being human.

Only complaint, though. The last page is completely incomprehensible to me. Brian, help me out -- is Gwen reacting to something we're not going to see or understand until Chapter 12, or am I just missing something in the visual information that explains what's wrong with her? I mean, I see lightning (possibly hitting the dragon?), some energy happening around her hands, she's crying, Connor's worried about her... did I miss it, or has whatever it is not happened yet? I usually don't have that problem parsing out the action. Maybe it's just me.

EDIT: Revisiting the possibility of re-vamping Angel, I wonder about the stab wound he took. I think deconstructing the way in which someone can be sired in the Buffyverse would be a bad idea -- it would take the mythic quality out of it, reduce vampirism to the sort of "infection" you see in (IMO lesser) mythologies like "Blade", "Twilight", etc.

But, Angel's broadsword was coated in the blood of one of Gunn's henchvamps (or Gunn himself, still not clear on that). And then Gunn has all those wounds reopen, which ostensibly would drain Angel of his blood. So, it would have happened out of order, and without any biting involved, but I could see this being a narrative "in" to re-vamping him.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2008-08-13 16:26 ]

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2008-08-13 18:17 ]
I don't have my issue yet so I don't know what happened but Darla said that siring a vampire was mythic. I'd hate to think they're going to re-sire Angel by accident.

Looking forward to reading, since it sounds really good. I love Gunn's storyline. I'm glad to hear that Angel didn't kill him, even though part of me is stomping my foot at that. Angel had Lindsey killed for what he might do but he lets Gunn live? Well....humph.
King: Gwen betrayed Connor and co. When Gunn said "I found her first," he was referring to Gwen, who attacks Connor, Spike, and the Dragon just as they're about to rush in to stop Gunn.
Well, that makes instant sense in her reaction... not sure it makes any sense with regard to her motivation. I mean, she's desperate to get out, we saw that, but who isn't? Why would she assume Gunn can actually pull it off? Must Gwonnor be pulled apart so?

I was actually puzzling over "I found her first" in the car, but at least it fits, since we did get some Gwensposition about how she and Connor met.
I think we'll be getting major flashbackery, considering that. Also, I think that's why Brian included Gwen's "First Night" story, so he'd be able to use that sorrow as a catalyst to sell the betrayal angle, which could so work if written the right way. And considering how nearly perfect this issue was, I can't see how it could be written any other way. :]
Wow, we are getting so much excitement with these three very different comics. Is it terrible that I'm enjoying Gunn's and Angel's pain even as I feel for them both? I can't wait for next month's issue #12!
I have my copy now and all I can say is WOAH!!

This issue delivered BIG TIME!!!!

It delivered on the Gunn/Angel confrontation and it delivered on twists,surprises and revelations.

Gunn using visions for evil purposes is a great call back to Doyle and Cordy.Gunn is such a twisted vamp.He honestly thinks he's the good guy and is going to save L.A.Again the Angel/Gunn showdown was perfect in my book.Angel's reaction to Gunn being a vamp.I could feel it and really imagine DB playing that scene in my head.

And Gunn's reaction to Angel being human and how he got around the glamour?All I can say is ouch,ouch,ouch!

Basically,un-doing all the magics Angel used to heal himself.So not only is the glamour gone revealing to Gunn that Angel is human.But all the magical healing done to the injuries Angel received since becoming human were undone from the broken spine to the broken hands,arms and legs.Every single injury.Again,I have to say ouch.I don't think Angel has ever been as helpless as he was in this moment.

I really don't get a shippy vibe from Angel/Nina.Yes,Nina has been protective of Angel since learning he was human but I don't get a romantic vibe particularly from him.I don't think he's interested in her in that way anymore even if she's still a little infatuated with him.Nina really came off to me as rebound girl for him in season 5 and I think she knew it too. After the episode "Power Play" I think Angel only sees her as a friend.

I'm glad we finally learn how Connor and Gwen met/hooked up.It makes what happens later in the issue have a whole new spin for me.

Speaking of which,the last page revelation.If I'm taking it right,it's a shock but at the same time,makes so much sense when you think about it.

Gwen being the betrayer and in league with Gunn makes sense because we saw her First Night story and it showed us what happened to her.I can see how that could make her desperate.If Gunn has a way to get her and L.A. out of hell,she'll take it.

It makes sense as well because it's Gunn.Remember,the last time we saw Gwen before ATF was in the season 4 epsiode,"Players."She teamed up with Gunn and they bonded and she even lost her virginity to him when she got the device that let her touch.Gwen and Gunn have a connection that was established on the series and vampire Gunn could of easily played on that.If Gwen was desperate,she could of rationalized siding with Gunn,being convinced that even though he's a vamp now,he's still Gunn and believing he could save everyone.
Hell,Gunn himself thinks he's still the same guy and is controling the demon when that is clearly not the case.

This is a neat way to call back to there past together from Players.

This is pure speculation on my part but I don't think Gwen has acted in malice.I think she believes Gunn is the best option to save everyone and if that means that she had to play team Angel to save L.A. and herself then she probably felt she had to.

I think the wildcard for her was Connor.We find out earlier in the issue how Connor and Gwen met and hooked up.I don't think that was a coincidental meeting.I think Gunn basically set up and had Gwen meet Connor to begin his plans and Gwen made it look like Connor and Nina stumbled upon her.I think at the start it was just a job for her.To use Connor to get close to the gang as it were but at some point I think she generally fell for him like he did for her and that wasn't an act.That's why I think Connor is the wildcard for Gwen.I think she really does love him which to me shows on that last page.She hates betraying him but she is doing what she feels she has to.I bet this will come into play over the next few issues and she'll realize that siding with Gunn was the wrong move.I also wouldn't be surprised if at the end of this thing,she sacrifices herself to rectify her mistakes.I'm calling it right now.This is the beginning of the end for Gwen and she will be killed by the end of ATF most likely heroically redeeming herself in everyone's eyes and especially in Connor's.

And Connor,poor guy really is getting kick in the nuts.Between Gwen's betrayal and then when he learns what has happened to his dad in this issue?Next issue is going to be a rough one for him.

I loved this issue.I think it went up to my favorite issue so far in ATF.Just so much payoff in this issue and even more twists and questions raised.
Is there only one more issue, or is this becoming an actual series? And if so, what is Joss' involvement post issue 12?
No,there is five more issues left.The other day Brian mentioned there might be a seventeeth issue but that wasn't decided yet.I guess it depends on if issue 16 runs too long.

From,my understanding Joss's involvment is the same all the way through to the end of ATF as it was on the first 12 issues.He broke the overall storyline of ATF with Brian and the major points of the arcs for the characters.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2008-08-14 00:49 ]
I loved the issue, also. My only complaint was one I had back when we first learned that Angel was human again... that being that there's no way a regular joe could take that much punishment and still live, and it's only amplified now that he's received EVERY wound healed by magic while he was in hell. It was barely believable for me to see Buffy getting gored and rising back up after that, and she's a Slayer.

Still, I did love all the tension and Gunn's reveals and Spike continuing to be a bad dude. Good catch with the Players rewind, Buffyfantic, I'd forgotten about that.
Okay, I have to ask. Why are there typos in every issue?
Okay, I have to ask. Why are there typos in every issue?

That bothers me, as well.

I tend to overlook small typos in fanfiction because the writers aren't professionals with editors to catch those mistakes. On the other hand, I've seen plenty of beta'd and unbeta'd fics that had no misspelled words whatsoever.

So, yeah. That really bothers me.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2008-08-14 04:44 ]
it's a fun game, duh. Everyone the spots the typos and sends in a self addressed stamped envelope to IDW Publishing at 555 Loosen Up Avenue, We're Only Human-ville, California, 91411.

Thanks to everyone who dug the issue, I am a fan of how this one came out. I hope we didn't disappoint with the big reunion. This issue was definitely one of those times when the characters took over and kinda nudged the plans in a different direction. Love when that happens.
We're Only Human-ville

Ha! Good one, Brian. But seriously, dude. Didn't you know that the minute you began this series that you attained a sort of iconic statis and are therefore at the mercy of critical Angel-worshipping fans? :)

Also, I'm about half-through issue # 11. I think you're doing an exemplary job with these characters. Well done, sir. I am impressed.
Best issue thus far. And that's saying a lot because this series has delivered from the start. I wish Brian would have had a chance to write an episode of the show because he captures the characters voices, both internal and external, perfectly.

I have to agree with KingOfCretins about the last panel being confusing in terms of the art. I wasn't sure what was going on at first. It took a full minute and a half for me to realize Gwen's betrayal. But once I got Powerful stuff. And its funny how most (myself included) never saw that coming. Out of every Angel character, Gunn arguably had the most involvement with Gwen during season 4. So in retrospect, an initial alliance between them makes perfect sense. He probably promised her she'd be able to touch again somehow if she sided with him against Angel and friends, maybe even using his visions to manipulate her with such a likely false promise. I only hope she doesn't kill the dragon. Whatever his name is.

I really enjoyed Angel's time as a human...but I think its time to return to his vamp roots. I agree with what someone posted on a previous thread in that a major part of Angel's identity is him being a vampire. I think what hell needs now is a little Angelus. That would be fun! Gunn might even have to team with Spike and everybody just to re-ensoul him. Imagine the possibilities....

The typos don't bother me because (1) the story is so damn good and (2) I aren't the best at spelling myself (Used a dictionary to write this post). :) Can't wait for the next issue! Keep doin your thing Brian!

[ edited by jay swif on 2008-08-14 05:49 ]
So...and I do feel very slow for asking, but what actually happens on the final page and a half, then? So Gwen betrays them, Is that Gunn or Connor on the second last panel of the last page? On the first panel of the last page, are the three all jumping off the dragon, or did Gwen somehow do that? What is up with the dragon in the last panel?
Well, KingOfCretins, there is no way I would say that Vampire!Gunn is better than Angelus, especially because Angelus is pretty much my favorite villain of all time. But Gunn is certainly up there.

This was indeed a great issue, and once I re-read it, it might end up my favorite. Way to go, Brian!
You guys are making my heart feel all sorts of good.
William, it took Pat clarifying but then it made sense to -- Gwen is attacking them. All that lightning is her doing. Connor's noticing it on the 2nd panel of that page, and in the last panel, she may have even hit the Dragon with it.

I think I realized why it confused me. This would probably be my first real "I wish the art had been different" complaint, but I think that if the energy effect on Gwen's hands was more obviously electric -- like crackling blue-white -- it would be clearer that she'd turned on them without having to think about it (which apparently a lot of people and not just me have had to do).

Really, a lot more makes sense -- her appearing in "First Night"; her appearing in "First Night" with Gunn; the exposition earlier in the book about her and Connor meeting* ("it seemed extraneous at the time"). I still struggle with the "why" though -- I'll be interesting in learning what kind of sales pitch Gunn made, how he convinced her that he in particular, can get them out. That seems to have been her desperate need in "First Night", to get out so LISA would work again.

It's a bummer from a Gwonnor standpoint (especially as the first Gwonnor 'shipper), but she really does seem to love him, to want to be with him. Maybe that'll keep her from being able to go through with this all the way. Creepy random thought -- Gwen's drug is physical contact and affection, which is something VampGunn can give her that Connor can't right now. Traitor Gwen is bad enough, hope it's not Traitor Cheater Gwen :(

*They technically met in "Long Day's Journey", but perhaps they didn't realize it right away when they met in Hell-A.
Brian's heart feels good! Quick! Let's dive into that level of "good" and see what we can derive from it. I hope not too "good", though. May need to dust you, just in case. *pokes with stake* I am under the assumption that a person who writes souled-vampires/no-soul-vampires/re-ensouled vampires/humans-who-used-to-be-vampires so well must they, themselves, be a vampires. Just as Joss in some way must be a strong, female character. :)

Loving your work, Brian! Keep it up! Can't wait for the next issue!

Also, shout-out to KoC. I always enjoy your analysis of the A:ATF comics. It gets me excited for when my comics arrive in the mail. You'd think I'd be spoiled, but for some miraculous reasoning beyond me, I always seem to forget what was discussed and am always floored by what I read and see on the shiny comic page.

A:ATF makes me smile. A lot.
OK, thanks KoC. That does make sense. I think that the art is especially confusing here. And the medium shots of Connor, Spike and Gwen on the second last page confuse me a lot. They're still on the dragon, right? But they're sitting in a completely different order than when the dragon took off? Call it nitpicking if you will, the art here is actually genuinely hard for me to follow--which is the same problem I have with the pervasive typos in this line, which I find distracting. I can "loosen up" and whatnot, and I respect that it's difficult to put out a monthly comic, but it's not as if I'm deliberately looking for problems with the art and text. These are real distractions.

I wasn't as floored by this issue as others were (sorry Brian) but it might improve with repeat readings. I don't really dig the way Fred is being written; it must be confusing coming back and forth from Illyria, but she seems a bit too brain-addled and simple-minded: "Isn't it exciting? Everyone's coming back!" Fred was optimistic, but her lines are ignoring her essential intelligence. Some of Angel's internal monologue feels a bit unnecessary from a dramatic standpoint; some of the jokes don't quite land. As to the central Gunn/Angel conflict of the issue--I like some of the concepts and some of the subtle details (Gunn pasting his own face onto Angel's in the "family photo") but I'm not quite sure yet how I feel about the presentation. It's a very complicated psychological portrait Brian et al. are drawing, and there are times when individual strokes don't quite feel right; his monomaniacal obsession with Angel's opinion of him makes some sense (he did die for him, after all) but does feel like an oversimplification. But then--the demon does have a tendency of magnifying certain unhealthy personality traits when it cuts off the healthy ones, and so I might have to reread this; it might change my mind.

As for Gwen's betrayal: I was so confused as to what happened that I haven't had time to process it. But it does make a lot of sense given Gunn and Gwen's history.
Wow, my head is spinning right now. I didn’t get the issue yesterday because I was too tired to make the drive to the comic book store, and I’m really kicking myself in the ass about that. I’ve only read it once, so I’m sure I missed some things. I’ve got to go reread Gwen “First Night” story. She has always been an interesting character to me because she can’t have any physical contact with anyone. That would have to have serious consequences on her development as an adult. Not to mention she fried that one kid when she was little. It makes sense she would have a special relationship with Gunn because he was her first, but to be honest, she really always seemed to be someone who looked out for herself first. She might honestly feel something for Connor, but obviously it’s not enough to stop her from betraying that gang. She’s a tragic figure, and Connor is going to be crushed.

I think Angel needs to rely more on his wits now more than ever. He’s not the (almost) unstoppable ass-kicker he used to be. The conversation between him and Gunn reminded me of a conversation between two friends where one was way too drunk to drive but swears he’s in control. Angel has been there and understands that he’s not in control, but he doesn’t have the power to stop Gunn.

Brian *pats on the back* you’re doing an amazing job! Thank you.
Is it September yet?

Slightly off topic. If it wasn’t for the Angel and Buffy comics, I never would have discovered graphic novels and comics. So far I’ve read Frank Miller’s Batman books, “Y The Last Man” and just about everything from Alan Moore. And of course “Everybody’s Dead” and the “Astonishing X-Men.”
This was a great issue. I loved the interplay between Gunn and Angel. Exactly what I was hoping for! Although, I didn't understand the last page until I got here. I think that could have been made clearer. I was completely lost. I thought Gwen somehow saw Angel's body, and was really upset or something. By the Angel dead? Cause...ow. That did not look pretty. I can see him being turned, and would love to see Angelus in Hell-A, but I don't think there are enough issues left to do that story justice AND get them out of hell. Unless it is Angelus and not Angel that gets them out. Hey, THAT'D be cool. Angelus vs. the forces of Wolfram and Hart, random demons, and Gunn's Gang. Jeez, that would be a great story. But I'm sure Brian has something much cooler planned.

Wow. Looking at this post. Does that qualify as a caffeine-induced rant?
Wasn't Angelus in Hell-A already done in Season 4?
Yeah, Korkster, but not "Hell"-A. That was just plain old Los Angeles.
Sorry Brian, but I agree with hacksaway and menomegirl. We're paying $3.99 for this book, and professionally, it should be free of typos and grammatical errors. It's the equivalent of buying some precious gem with a flaw in it---it's just not right.

That being said, typos and errors have inspired me to become a copy editor, so thanks for the career help, IDW! :-D
I had to click onto the archive to find this... I'm always late to the party! *pout* Why isn't this linked on the main page like usual?

I liked this issue. I especially like how Gunn was working so hard to win Angel at the same time we are seeing in his mind how he doesn't believe himself. I think he knows he's bad, really bad, soulless vamp but in a way he's trying to pretend that he was like Angel so when he found out Angel is not a vampire any more that hit hard on the illusion (not to mention Gunn's long hate of vamps, his hard time trusting Angel, then Gunn becomes the vamp and Angel the human - talk about role-play).

I really can't wait to see how Spike and Connor kick Gwen's charged butt and save Angel. I doubt they'd kill off Gunn (at least not until the end of the series) but the two of them together against a newly turned Gunn? We know how that's gonna end, even if he'd sucked on some vision juice.

Will magic be involved in saving Angel or will Spike totally mess up that already messed up family tree? (the second one is doubtful at least without soulful magics to aid the re-turning ;)
Why isn't this linked on the main page like usual?

Bad memory. I'll bung it on now.
Ha, Simon. You go through the effort of side-baring this, and now no one has anything else to add. :)

I would like to disagree to this:

Yeah, Korkster, but not "Hell"-A. That was just plain old Los Angeles.

That wasn't plain old Los Angeles. The sun was covered, Cordelia was evil, a big dumb rock dude was killing off orb-guys, and Lilah was working with the Angel team. Definitely not an ordinary day in LA.
Finally read it last night, but have only read it once so far. And didn't know what the hell happened at the end until I read this thread.

I think I'm still having trouble adjusting to the comic book format - I tend to have to read several times before I can even follow the plot. Betty and Veronica never gave me this much trouble back in the early 1970s when I last read comic books!
Maybe it's the whole redemption of souls that fattens up & confuzzles the pages. If I remember correctly, Betty & Veronica were happy being soulless demons. Therefore, thinner & clearer pages were had.
I've got to say this - as I saw the last panel, for a second I heard the first few bars of the theme tune in my head.

Maybe it's because I'm a theatre sound technician and spend most of my waking hours matching music to text, but this doesn't just read like the programmes, it feels like them too.

This was awesome. The nuances of the Gunn/Angel role reversals are going to take many re-reads to fully appreciate. (tiny issue with the art, but nothing that can't be overcome by re-reading.) I thought that Gunn nicked that photo for rememberance's sake, because the part of him that still thought he was in control of the demon wanted a link to the past; to see it on the wall with his face taped over Angel's gave me a lumpy throat for a second.
I always find myself getting lost when reading ATF. Like theres something about the structuring that loses me all the time, like the boxes of inner monologue and bubbles of dialogue mixing me up. And the shot of spike, gwen and connor on the dragons back on pg 8 I think, the bubble points to Gwen but its clearly Spikes dialogue.
The art is a bit all over the shop for me as well, whats with the last two boxes on the second last did some random surrealist artist take over for two boxes...why is Connor's hair blue? And the box with Angel stabbing Gunn in the side with a sword, whats with Angels face, he looks like he just heard something really really funny, the whole 5 seasons of Angel I never saw DB make a face like that its bizarre and throws me off. And that first box of gwen on page 6...who in fugly hell is that supposed to be! Looks like Julia Roberts but with more shovel to the face!

I dunno...its hard to put my finger on what exactly it is about ATF that has me not enjoying it very much...its all very blah to me... le sigh.
Took me a bit to figure out that ending. And the cover for #12 looks awesome!

I agree that the moments when Fred comes back are unsatisfactory, but then again, it's not actually Fred, is it? It's more like Illyria's memories of Fred. Or something. Anyway, it would account for some of her dialog. I mean, if that was really Fred, wouldn't she be using her super-physics/chemistry brain power to try and figure out how to stay Fred, or get rid of Illyria?

Anyone else notice that Angel addressed the dragon as "Dragon?" Perhaps THAT is the dragon's name? I hope not. I'm still holding out for "Mandy."

I think I'm still having trouble adjusting to the comic book format - I tend to have to read several times before I can even follow the plot. Betty and Veronica never gave me this much trouble back in the early 1970s when I last read comic books!"

Good for you for sticking with it. I'm afraid I gave up and cancelled my Angel sub because I have no idea what's going on in any of the issues, no matter how often I read them. I don't have that problem with Season 8.
I'm afraid I'm in the minority camp who has no idea what the hell is going on in this series. I accidentally missed out issue #11 and skipped straight to #12. I'm so used to being confused that I didn't even realised I had missed one (!) 'til I saw the covers.

Just got #11 today and yet again I'm disappointed. I'm just finding this comic way too random (both the art and the script). It bears almost no resemblance in my mind to the TV series, and in my opinion is in a different (lower) league to Buffy: Season 8 which is rocking my socks off. The plot, pacing and dialogue are really off. I'm sorry to say that I can't even feel a trace of Joss's presence in this work, though I know he is in there. I'm never harsh just for the sake of it - but I want to give an honest review of how I found it.

Yet I find myself extremely loathe to stop getting it - because it is canon. I have to know what happens in this 'verse, but I am really not digging it :(

Spike: After the Fall has impressed me a little bit more so far.

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