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March 18 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss Angel #19. This is the second part of Kelley Armstrong's 'Aftermath' arc.

Since I'm usually the first to post a review of any of these on this thread, I'll go ahead and say I'm not going to be able to pick this up until tomorrow.
Fair enough, this will be linked on the sidebar in case this entry gets bumped off the front page by tomorrow.
Huge spoilers for this issue ahead!

Of the good:

The feel of this arc continues to be much more episodic and brisk. The tone is light and the humor is still there and very in step with the type of comedic turns we used to see in the series proper. There's assassination is wrapped up really quickly in this issue but in a clever way that definitely aids in bringing the new character, Dez, very quickly into the fold. Meanwhile, the mystery behind the humans turned magic monsters continues to slowly unfold and our mystical maybe Oracle benefactor's motivations continue to be highly questionable.

I absolutely am in love with Desdemona (Dez). Kelley knows her way around Were characters and it really shows. Dez is quick-witted, sexy, strong willed, and complex. Her inability to control her transformations and behavior while in her were-cat form I think will play out very nicely in the issues to come.

Beer Bad:

I was excited about the return of Electro Gwen but something about her behavior this issue rang false for me. She's far too pleading, she follows Connor around like a lost puppy, and she's just generally pathetic. I mean I get that she screwed up and has to grovel a bit but this is kind of ridiculous and stretches the boundaries of believability for me. What happened to this powerful woman? Plus there's a point where she says she can't remember the last time she read a book (with regard to researching Dez and what she is) and it's like really? She used to be a thief of rare items and artifacts, remember? She would have had to do at least a modicum of research, wouldn't she? It's as though they are suggesting she's kind of dumb and unlearned and, uh, no. She's not. She's obviously intelligent. Maybe this is the hard core feminist in me but it bothers me when we take our strong female characters and turn them into pedantic, whiny, needy, little girls.


The art. Egads, my eyes. Will any of our characters ever look like themselves? Is it so much to ask? It didn't bother me at first but I can tell it's going to severely grate on my nerves with each passing issue if this doesn't improve at least a little.

I'm officially pretending that this Kate is a completely different Kate from the one in the series. Why? BECAUSE SHE IS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM THE KATE IN THE SERIES.

And just to wrap up: A message from Cordelia? I mean, honestly! I already knew this was coming but I just wish her name wouldn't be dropped so out of hand like this. She was kind of my favorite and she died in that awesome 100th episode and I just wish we could leave her alone. I hope this means we won't actually see her. She'll just be *sigh* getting her higher being on.

And those are my thoughts. I give it three and a half stakes out of five. Just throwing a random rating out there because I can.

[ edited by project bitsy on 2009-03-18 20:29 ]

[ edited by project bitsy on 2009-03-18 20:35 ]
I have my copy.I liked the first issue but I think this issue was better.It had more meat to it and more character development.

First of all Gwen enters the issue here and Connor is very harsh with her.He doesn't want to have anything to do with her.Connor even accuses Gwen of stalking him.She offers her help on the current case with Dez and stuff but Connor refuses it.But Kate accepts it.

My impression is that Angel understands why Gwen did what she did and regrets it but he knows how much it hurt Connor and so has to side with his son and his feelings.

Even though Gwen was wrong to back Gunn in ATF,I really do feel sorry for her in this issue.I think Kate does too because Kate goes to bat for her as it were.

Kate gives Gwen some good advice.She tells her that she betrayed Connor and even though she regrets it,it's going to take time for Connor to get over that.

What's interesting is at first Gwen seems jealous of Kate and the close connection she's developed with Connor.I think Gwen thinks Kate is trying to steal Connor from her but by the end of the issue when Kate really goes to bat for and convinces Angel and Connor to accept her help,Connor very reluctantly,I think Gwen really appreciates it.She thanks Kate.

As I said before,Dez has a real Catwoman vibe to her.She really does also remind me of early season 4 Gwen who also had a Catwoman vibe back then too.Angel doesn't trust her nor do Kate,Gwen and Connor and think she has an ulterior motive but they do agree to work with her .And I do think there is more to Dez because later in the issue she attacks one of those supercharged guys who are nuts from hell in cat form and freaks out when she reverts back to human because it seems in cat form she's losing control of herself.Based on this and a scene earlier in the issue,I think she's having trouble controling her changes into the cat and retaining her human mind.That's speculation though.

The Warrior Angel character is introduced at the end of the issue in the hospital Angel and Kate visit.They are taking the guy Dez caught to this hospital and the Warrior Angel who is a patient approaches Angel.He spouts angelic wings and tells Angel that he has a messege for him from Cordelia.

project bitsy,I agree with you about Cordy.It's getting way past much although if it's just a messege from her than that's slightly better than another full on appearence again.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-03-18 20:40 ]
Wasn't the warrior angel the same guy that visited Angel in #18? He had the same face and hair.
Good question and, to be completely honest, I have no idea.
I'd have to go back and check.
Just did. It's not the same guy. Very, very similar (some, including me, would say too much so). The eye color and the eyebrow color are different though and the angel has a more defined, square jawline. Dave Ross needs to step up his game in a hurry.
Yeah,I just checked too and they are different guys but it's easy how they could be mistaken as the same guy.
I didn't like the first issue by any means, and I thought this one was even worse. It just feels bogus. Armstrong doesn't seem to understand any of the characters, and her new character Dez feels like she's from a different series altogether. Which actually fits, since all of the characters feel like they're from a different series altogether. The dialogue has no snap to it, the story flow is clumsy (and the story itself boring), and the art...yeah, it's pretty horrid.

Without getting too much into something we all hate to discuss, from everything I've read, Aftermath is no longer the official continuation of this story. Even if it were, that doesn't change the fact that it's a really bad book. The non-canon Blood and Trenches is excellent, and I'll keep reading that. If one day Joss has something to say about Aftermath in this regard, I'll come back and catch up. But for now, I'm gonna drop it.
If Cordelia is a Higher Being in truth now and for now, there's no way we won't be hearing from her at odd times.
After a few looks, i think the art isn't so much bad as inconsistent.
The pages we saw for the preview are much better looking than the middle of the book.

The leopard looks great each time she is seen.

And lastly the larger art problem seems to be the colorist(s). Those are some curiously colored people.
If Cordelia is a Higher Being in truth now and for now, there's no way we won't be hearing from her at odd times.

Because Higher Beings always like to talk directly to Angel rather than sending emissaries to work their will on Earth? Last time Cordy was a Higher Being in AtS S4, she couldn't talk to Angel. *shakes head*
After a few looks, i think the art isn't so much bad as inconsistent.
The pages we saw for the preview are much better looking than the middle of the book.

For me it's not that the art is 'bad'. It's just that noone looks like they should. Angel is some generic musclebound comic superhero with spiky hair and there's no tattoo. And the other established characters are generic as well.

I'm really disappointed in this series so far. I've said on another board that I really miss Joss's involvement in the story. (This has nothing to do with canon vs non-canon). It's just that I think some oversight from Joss (or some other Angelverse expert) would improve the characterizations.
I agree with UnpluggedCrazy: Blood and Trenches got off to an interesting start, but Armstrong's continuation of Angel: After the Fall doesn't seem to even be in the ball park. However my local comic book store owner is getting them for me and I won't let him down... I'll continue to read them, without considering them canon (please forgive me using the dreaded 'c' word).
I don't think the new direction is bad, it's just different than what we recently experienced with Brian. It feels like we just went from Graduation Day to The Freshman. Entirely different vibes.

I really really like the introduction of Dez and I find myself enjoying Kate a lot more than I ever did in the live series. It's great having Connor there and I think his reaction to Gwen is pretty spot on, from what I would expect it to be so soon after the betrayal.

Cordelia has a message for Angel...I can't wait to hear it. We have all the main players on the table now, from what I understand, so the next issue should move the storyline along.

It would have been tough to set up a whole different setting and introduce a couple of new characters to get us going. I think KA is doing as well as anyone else could have done, under the cirmumstances.
We have yet to get into ground that, for my money, is somehow false or out of touch with "Angel" as a series. I've been rewatching the early seasons and had forgotten just how completely better than all the others Season 2 was, and how good Season 1 was as well. "Aftermath" has a feel that, right now, reminds me of late Season 1 and early Season 2.

Characterization -- I am starting to agree with the criticisms of Kate, but there's an important thing to note on that subject. Yes, "Aftermath" Kate isn't cynical (even at her best) the way Kate was in Season 1, she isn't severe and brooding. But... isn't Kate's characterization, post-"Epiphany" and post-Hell-A at least somewhat up for grabs? It's plausible that she'd come out a much more cheerful person, more of an idealist. I think "First Night" overlooked the fact that by the end of "Epiphany", Kate was very attenuated in her agreement with Angel, because it was Kate that pointed out that Angel's central conclusion that there was nobody watching out for them may be wrong, because she never invited him into her apartment. In "First Night", Kate appears to have instead adopted completely Angel's more nihilistic reasoning for being a hero, in contradiction to where "Epiphany" left her. If the only inconsistent thing, then, in how Kate is presented post-"Epiphany", meaning how she's presented in "First Night", is that she appears to be more of an idealist, that's actually more authentic to where she was left during the televised seasons. But it's still a genuine concern that her personality has appeared to change a great deal.

Angel's characterization in Issue #19 seems okay to me, he is protective of Connor, awkward around relationship drama, annoyed by the shapeshifting chippy.

GWONNOR -- I actually like how this is presented in this issue. As much as I wanted Connor to more or less instantly understand Gwen's desperation, it's understandable that he wouldn't, and I think it's really unsupported to say he's back to "whiny" Connor -- he is Dumped and Betrayed Connor. In his own way, he's like Oz telling Willow she needs to give him time back in Season 3. And I do like Gwen's clinginess, because that seems perfectly like how she'd act, since she's had no real intimacy in her relationships, nobody really love her that way, she doesn't want to lose it. I'd love some confirmation that LISA works again, though -- I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't.

Des -- I'm not feeling it yet. It's not that she's not an interesting character, but I just don't know if, in a five issue arc, I care enough about the issues of this woman who I've just heard of are that interesting to spend time on. She's not a Mary Sue, but she is in danger of it. When people made that complaint about Mara Jade, at least there was an entire trilogy in which she could get facetime and so could the established characters. But "Aftermath" is so short, and we got about half of one issue all about this person.

Art -- I usually don't spend time on art in these books, and I think a lot of the typical complaints about the art are misplaced. Comic art is not an exercise in mastering a specific "likeness" of a character or a specific artistic style that will satisfy every reader. The *main* job of a penciller, vis a vis likenesses, is just to make sure that every character is distinguishible from every other. Kate is always Kate and not Gwen; Angel is always Angel and not Connor. The art in this book, in "Angel: After the Fall", and in Season 8 has done this very well.

What I do complain about, though, is when the art (and the script) fail to clarify the action enough to understand the plot. Worst example? The kiss of true love in "Buffy" and the staging of the room where the kiss took place making it impossible to even guess that the actual kisser was in the room, let alone in position to kiss Buffy.

In this issue, the last few pages are a tangle for the plot in the art. We see the guy -- a patient? Orderly? -- walk toward Angel to greet him. Then, in a wideview, we see that guy being led away. At the same time, a doctor is talking to Kate and his voice is inexplicably fading off. Then we see Angel staring in no established direction. Then we see the warrior angel talking to him. In short, I came away completely mystified as to whether it was the patient/orderly guy who was the angel (who had ostensibly just been led away but is now suddenly standing in front of Angel?) or if the doctor had turned into the angel (and that's why his voice trailed off). That's not good. That shouldn't be confusing, it should be clear on the first reading. That's half on the script and half on the penciller.

Plot -- I'm still thoroughly disinterested in the demon lords and hope they are a B-plot. So far, though, the story hasn't moved very far in two issues. Only three more for the entire story arc.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-03-19 19:11 ]
Didn't make me laugh out loud, like the last ish did (which was a first for IDW's Angel run) but I'm still reading.

Final reveal: I'd been sort of expecting one of those guys to turn up ever since Angel got his own show, but since they never did on TV I figured we'd gotten away without them.
I really wish they'd find another artist. Angel looked the colour of the Incredible Hulk in the dark at the beginning. >:(

[ edited by Scruffy on 2009-03-20 07:54 ]
Imagine if Stephen Mooney were doing art on this? It would definitely get a much better grade in my book. He knows the characters well enough to make the somewhat stitled conversations probably seem less stitled with character expression and positioning.
I'm not bothered by the artwork, it seems like normal comic book art to me. Not outstanding but competent and allows the story to flow.
Scruffy, the art job is divided into three parts in comics (usually).
What you mentioned specifically is the colorists job.
And I like that part, but i see what you mean.
I actually thought Kate looked more like Kate this issue. The ending didn't make it seem like Cordy would appear---I think that dude will just deliver her message.

So far, this arc is a LOT different from the tv series and After the Fall, but it's interesting, so I'm sticking with it. Could use a few more familiar faces though. Lorne maybe?
Finally read it last night.

Darn, I really thought that was an African-American woman who turned into a melanistic leopard.

Jokes about suing Joss because he stole the character I marry to Oz in my fics totally aside (see, I can be srious,) I'm disappointed at another non-non-white in the Buffyverse "innertheon."
Not sure I'm digging the Aftermath arc ... kinda bland ... I like Kate being back ... but I need more Spike, more Lorne, more Gunn, more Illyria ... and more ghost Wesley ... more Cordy too ...

its like Angel minus the personality ...

not digging the were-kitty either ... Dezdemona??? that's her name? for real?

i hope this story goes somewhere worthwhile, cuz it's kinda dragging
I'm disappointed at another non-non-white in the Buffyverse "innertheon."

What's that supposed to mean?
How is a were-leopard "white'?
menomegirl , espalier ; The Buffyverse has changed to the extent there are a lot more persons of color in it now than early on but, when I first saw Dez in issue 18 (and, yeah, okay, the lights were off) I thought she was black and I was disappointed to find out she wasn't. And I figure she's going to be improtant to the story for a good long while.

MikeyB: I got the impression GhostWesley is now gone completely.

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2009-03-23 22:09 ]
I get that there is a lot of room for creative license in comic art, but that being said, when Dez pointed the stake at Angel's chest, the only thing that came to mind was "why's the governator in Angel's room?"

I am really disappointed in the majority of the artwork in Angel. I do understand that this is a different medium and it's supposed to serve a different purpose, but a lot of us who read this never read comics before, and its hard to reconcile the actors/actresses with the exaggerated bodies that come out on the pages.

I'm not demanding that there be life-like portraits; I'm simply saying that the giant breasts, tiny waists, and ridiculous muscles have got to go. Spending a wee bit of time shaping the facial features would also be appreciated.
I'm a much bigger fan of the art in least I can tell who's who without needing them to name-drop.

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