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February 11 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss Angel: After The Fall #17. All good things...

This concluding chapter of "Angel: After the Fall" was a moderately paced and introspective piece that causes one not just to reflect on the miniseries, but the "Angel" franchise as a whole.

This is probably the best script Lynch has given us, and all the characterization felt cleaner than at any point previously -- it was never weak, but here is where, at last, it felt just like watching an episode of the show.

The central feature is definitely the apparent conclusion to Angel and Spike as enemies who just tolerate each other. A lot of this work was done when they united to try to save Fred in Season 5, but here we actually have reached real mutual respect. I, for one, am happened that this happened with no direction mention of Buffy, although I was very pleased that it's implied that they're both just sort of over fighting about her (perhaps they both have written it off?). Spike gets a great line -- "even emo albums have a few peppy songs".

Angel and Nina appear not to have changed much, which is ironic when juxtaposed with what Angel's saying in that scene -- she is still clearly nuts about him and he is ambivalent toward her but happy to have her company.

I really liked the switch from Angel thinking about facing Gunn to Burge yelling at him. Gunn is Angel's Klingon Bastard, but Angel is Burge's.

The library name was very nice.

Question -- am I correct in assuming that it's not that Gwen *can't* be touched now (LISA should be working again)? She can be touched, just didn't feel like being touched by Nate?

Was Angel leaving the card for Lorne as well as Gunn? A peace offering of sorts, an apology for what he made Lorne do?

This issue really took "Angel" back to a very Season 1 feel for me -- it was again up for grabs that Angel was a good guy trying to do good but always living with the fear of being far more dangerous. In Season 1, he walked a fine line, according to Wes, and repeatedly reminded Cordy and Wes that they had to be ready to kill him if needed. Spike saying that calls back to that time. At the same time, the conversation raising the question that Spike still might *be* the guy (I'm not sure if either of them actually think that, though) takes us back to that "To Shanshu in L.A." time when we were only just learning about this and didn't know the details.

The last page was the best of the series for me -- Angel walking away. Down the street, not down an alley. Not toward a foggy, steamy dark, but toward lights and the connection to humanity that Doyle showed up to make sure he had. But with the same determination and sense of purpose. Only weakness would have been a callback to "I'm game" might have been nice.

There is an argument to be made, without disrespecting the fun of this series, that "Angel" should have stopped with "Not Fade Away". And I don't know if I disagree completely. But, as soon as Season 8 was announced, the ending of "Not Fade Away" was already broken. Had IDW done nothing at all, not made "Angel: After the Fall", the fact of Season 8 would have required SOME resolution of what happened after "Not Fade Away". So, to ask "should they have just stopped?" isn't an important question. To borrow from the issue itself, it's not a question of what "mistakes" are made (if for this purpose one were to think that any Buffyverse continuation after "Not Fade Away" was a mistake), but rather of what the writers and artists and Joss do about them. In this case, having been able to bring "Angel" full circle to the uncomplicated story of a vampire with a past of known evil and a future with more possible evil trying to do good, we can say that "Angel: After the Fall" atones quite well for daring to succeed "Not Fade Away". Angel, Spike, Illyria, Nina, Connor, Gwen and the others are all richer, more interesting characters for having been in this story. That is the measure of success in adding to the Buffyverse.
Wow, the art is so beautiful in this issue! Urru + Mantovani = Win

Wonderful coda and I love how the conversation between Angel and Spike confirmed what I'd believed and argued for a while - that the shanshu was still in play and possesses an uncertain outcome.

Nina actually got a nice scene (finally! it makes her lack of involvement in most of AtF easier to swallow) and Urru drew her beautifully - her best likeness yet. A nice setup to her future (and hopefully more developed) involvement in Aftermath. Gwen's appearance was all too brief and no Connor, so that seems to be saved for Aftermath as well.

I loved the touch of the LA Public Library wing being dedicated to Wes and Fred, but one small complaint and it's really minor. It should read Burkle Wyndam-Pryce, not Burkle Wyndam-Price. But it's a wonderful tribute to them and so very symbolic and sentimental for Angel to be researching in Wes and Fred's library. Trying to recapture his glory days and the mission. Aw.

Loved the "untrunk me" gag and the "Welcome to Silverlake: We Even Stayed Pleasant In Hell" - Bwah! And poor Angel getting hit on by the lady at the records office offering to help him with the "demon foul play" - i.e. hot monkey sex. Apparently, research is now the euphemism for sex...which plays rather nicely into Nina researching with Angel in this issue. And hey, if you think about it - Wes and Fred had been 'researching' for years, so their relationship was more involved than we fans realized.

Great continuity with Angel visiting Gunn in the hospital and the new Angel Investigations card. The one thing it actually adds from the scene it echoes in Underneath is Angel actually has the mission here. And so he's really in a position to teach and help Gunn with atoning, a less hollow offer than the one in Season 5 where Angel is the most compromised of all.

I loved the silent smile by Lorne looking at the business card, but dang for a guy who loves to talk Lorne sure hasn't gotten to deal with any of his issues with Angel. The character development of Lorne dealing with murdering Lindsey seems to be doomed to sit on the dusty writer's room floor. Very disappointing.

I think it ended on a perfect note with the "But for now...I'm here to help" as Angel walks down a lonely street. But one minor complaint that actually resembles another goof I found annoying in the series. I'm quibbling with the "My name is Angel" line which reminds me of the cringe-worthy "I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys" line from You're Welcome. It just smacks too much of ego, something that runs counter to the shame, guilt and desire for redemption that motivates Angel to act. It's the type of statement that works for Groo, but just never sits right when I hear it in Angel's voice. When Angel said it in You're Welcome, it felt like more the writers' voices coming out and it feels the same way here. When I read the final lines of the issue and remove the "My name is Angel" I think it flows better and it's nigh perfect pitch. But hey, personal opinion. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of people who are going to counter that opinion after my post. ;)

A very satisfying, beautiful and poignant end to the series. Strength for strength in writing and art.

ETA: King, regarding Gwen I think it's that she doesn't want to be touched nor feels that she deserves to be touched after what she did in After the Fall. Human connection is the greatest reward to Gwen and she seems to feel very guilty for what she did to Connor. So she deems herself unworthy of what she most desires. Angel needs to forward his card to her STAT. The girl needs some help atoning.

[ edited by Emmie on 2009-02-11 19:54 ]
I won't be able to get my copy until tomorrow but sounds like a good coda.
Angel's always had an ego, much as he wish he didn't. So that line doesn't bother me. It catches his ambivalence.

This was a decent ending, given what the book was trying to do. I'm in the camp that thinks that it would have been better to leave it at NFA. But if fans insist on a continuation, and IDW can make money from one, resetting back to season 1 is probably the best bet. (And I think that's a good way of reading the ending here). It just doesn't seem likely that one could find writers capable of doing a continuation that did justice to the complexity of the show, if any real continuation was even possible. (I think it reads best as a Shakespearian tragedy, and there's no point in resurrecting a few of the bodies at the end of Act 5 to carry on to an Act 6.)

OTOH, I'm not interested in watching a vanilla do-over of a great series (with the added handicap of already being down a few characters). And since I can't both count this as "canon" AND continue to think that the series was great, I'm gonna have to go with "the series was great, and this just isn't canon". It was all entertaining as fanfic though. *Very* strong in the things that fanfic is good for and completely lacking in the things fanfic lacks.

[ edited by Maggie on 2009-02-11 20:53 ]
Heads up to everyone.Brian pointed out that there are two errors in this issue and one could cause a lot of confusion.He clears it up on the IDW board.

This might be a good idea to add to the header.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-02-11 21:12 ]
Oh I loved every single thing about issue #17, both covers are wonderful, real collectors' items, and I started crying several times (and that isn't just because I'm a pitiful softy, but because it was really moving). This entire series is a treasure, a really wonderful addition to the Angel series; huge thanks to Brian Lynch and Franco Urru!
I'm still catching up on the angel series, so I haven't started After the Fall yet, but I am looking forward to it. Now off to watch the last 2 episodes in season 5, and after that I will defentitely look into this awesome series.
I'm rereading the issue and I think the "My name is Angel" line works better for me if I look at it as if Angel were re-introducing himself to the audience. Almost like something he would say as he's rescuing someone and handing them his card - "My name is Angel...I'm here to help."
Which is actually what he had just done at the hospital.

I still think we needed an "I'm game", there, though.
After the Fall ended Angel the way I always hoped the series would end, and I'm grateful for that. If there's never another "official" Angel story again, they've ended it as good as it can be ended, in my mind.

Thanks for the fun series, everyone involved.
"I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys" is pretty awesome, because it's Angel accepting what Cordelia's been telling him -- he's a hero. He regains that.
I thought that IDW was going to ruin the ending of this by leaving something hanging, or creating a new plot thread that must be followed up later or something, but they didn't really do that here. I respect them for that. Everything is wrapped up succinctly enough. Angel is back to the constant, unending fight for redemption, helping the helpless, saving souls. Being the hero. He had lost this during season 5.

I like how there are 2 leaving points here. If you liked NFA as an ending, and didn't like ATF, that's okay, because NFA was an ending, and you don't have to continue if you don't want to. They do the same thing here, leaving on a strong ending. This way, if someone doesn't end up liking Aftermath, they don't have to acknowledge its existence. This makes me feel a lot more open to reading Aftermath.

Ultimately, I think the important realization that we have known all along, was only just realized by Angel here. A man isn't measured by the mistakes he's made. He's measured by what he does about them. This realization is what really makes the series worthwhile for me, and it represents a complete 360 from where Angel was in season 5.
Was going to write what I thought but then I read what Emmie posted and I agree with her 100%.

Especially this: I loved the silent smile by Lorne looking at the business card, but dang for a guy who loves to talk Lorne sure hasn't gotten to deal with any of his issues with Angel. The character development of Lorne dealing with murdering Lindsey seems to be doomed to sit on the dusty writer's room floor. Very disappointing.

And she's not the only one who loathed the "I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys." line.
I loved everything about this issue, just like all the ones that came before it. Mr. Lynch did the series justice. Kept the characters in character. This was just awesome. All of it.
I've linked to this on the side bar so people can chat about it with ease. I have to admit I think Brian and IDW should be proud of what they have achieved here. It's been a good storyline and it got the fandom talking. So a double win.
I have my copy now.I really need to re-read it again but I greatly enjoyed it.
It's been a good storyline and it got the fandom talking.

Not to be mean, but, um...what does the fandom do other than talk?

Picture a kind of half-smiley here.
Not talk. A lot of forums were becoming wastelands with only the diehards posting. AFT and Buffy season 8 brought in new fans (who watched the shows for the first time on DVD) posting on message boards, blogs etc. You could argue that's they are the third generation of the online Buffyverse fandom. First being those who started to watch Buffy from the start and the second group of fans who started to watch Buffy at around season 5 or 6.
I'm one of those who joined the online fandom because of the comics. I'd been a fan since Season 1 aired, but the comics got me to join the discussion. :)
Just one small question. I thought Angel being responsible for the 'downfall of man' was just something Wolfram & Hart put into his head. Is there a reason why he, Spike, etc. are assuming it to be true?
Illyria time-slipping Angel to the future, where he had already killed thousands of people was pretty much confirmation that it is still possible.
If Hell-A is simply a rip in the fabric of the timeline, how is Illyria allowed to time-slip?
I loved this and how it all came to play. I love how Spike and Angel acknowledged each other – in their heads and George outed them lol

I am disappointed though on the lack of Lorne – Lorne was one of the few left at the end of S5 with the best fodder for development and angst. But, maybe his silence rather than his pre-comic outgoing personality is telling as well.

Thanks for the lovely stories you gave us, Brian. We’ll be here waiting for more :)
This issue made me excited for Aftermath. I can't wait to *really* get into the meat and potatoes of what happened after NFA.

I do hope this is the last we've seen of Nina. She was good cannon fodder, which is why I'm surprised she made it to the end.

Suppose Gunn will linger in a coma until Brian returns to the series. I got the same impression about Wesley. Either W&H will return to LA with Ghost Wes, or Ghost Wes will find another way to return. Or maybe Wes and Fred really are gone, the same way Cordelia is gone (i.e., very dead but with "very special" appearances when circumstances call for it). I'm actually okay with Wes and Fred being gone for good.

Illyria, however, is another story! Perhaps one that will be told in the Spike series.

As for Lorne, if After the Fall had been televised, I think he would have been a "special guest star" rather than a series regular. I can see that happening throughout the future of Angel comics.

Anyway, I'm counting the "return to LA" as the official "outing" of vamps and supernatural creatures in the Buffyverse. My take? The people of LA kept it localized for a while, but eventually more and more info leaked out--Harmony's Andy Dick-killin' being the "big one".

P.S. Now that the Buffy and Angel comic timelines are clear, I'm going to throw Angel out there as a contender for Twilight
I liked it, but is just felt a little empty and throw away after the events from the series finale until it. And it just sort of left us back at square one with Angel; new friends and fighting bad guys again. Sure, we all know that in Whedon reality land Angel's life just keeps going and he makes friends and they die and he keeps fighting bad guys, but here in real life when you give us something like this, you expect some kind of closure.

And man am I tired of that fish.
So Angel is destined to turn on the good guys and cause the end of the world, because of the way W&H reworked the Shanshu? Hmm ... does this mean Buffy would be called in to stop him? I smell a great movie script coming out of the end of After the Fall and Season 8.
The comments here are relatively scarce, so I'm assuming Dollhouse kind of overshadowed what is possibly the very last word on any of these characters.

This was a very strong conclusion, and by God, did the ending make me teary-eyed. My favorite part was Lorne looking at that card and just smiling. Nothing was actually said, but it spoke volumes.

Thanks, Joss and Brian, for giving us another wonderful story, and if it's the last we ever get, I've really appreciated the entire journey.
Don't worry, UnpluggedCrazy, the story continues in Angel #18!
Who were the people on the big splash page proposing? Someone said it was Jim and Pam, but that show doesn't even take place in LA.
Jeremy (from S:AtF) and his girlfriend
He was the guy Illyria killed, right?
I smell a great movie script coming out of the end of After the Fall and Season 8.

Hey, someone should ask Joss if he's working on this script ;-)
Wasn't the first issue of Aftermath supposed to be released this month, as well as #17?
Well, I finally read this issue a couple of days ago. And while there's a good chance this comment may never be seen, I just really wanted to say how much I enjoyed the final issues of After the Fall.

Among the many nice points of this issue in particular: I'm loving Angel's status as celebrity hero (and also that he's not the only one acknowledged). All of the characterization was spot on, and nice moments ranged from Illyria defending (while also somewhat threatening) Charles to Spike and Angel's conversation to Nina actually not seeming pointless. It hadn't occurred to me that the demon lords would, of course, be back - some good milage from them here. And the Groo and his Cordys scene was sweetly cute.

And the name of the library wing - ! Uhh. No wonder even Spike admitted to being moved. Just perfect.

Thank you very much for this series, Brian Lynch, and Joss Whedon and all of the artists and other talented people at IDW who helped bring it to us!

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