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May 07 2010

(SPOILER) CBR's Behind Buffy Season 8: "The Power of Love". Brad Meltzer talks about Buffy #35 with CBR.

If that's the trash he produces when he DOESN'T have to go in for deep explanations, the novels must be so wet you could nuke snipe off of them . . .
I've gotta stop clicking in the comics threads.....sigh.....
bluegrrl you're free to express negative opinions about the comic here but not to make nasty comments about the writer being interviewed. Consider yourself warned.
I still find it hard to believe that Angel was in-character; and, to hear it from the writer that he WAS leaves me disappointed.
luv4whedon, we still don't know how Angel came across these Twilight powers. I like to imagine that a lot must have went down to really influence Angel's behavior and thought processes. Season 8 isn't over yet.
Hopefully we'll find out what went down, I think the readers definitely need some context.
I really enjoyed the Twilight arc..... but reading these Meltzer interviews, I really feel like he doesn't get what Buffy is.
I agree with you, Cazador. I loved the Twilight arc, but seeing Meltzer's answers to his questions...I dunno, it seems like his answers are pretty vain, or missing the target, if that makes any sense. His Twitter interview was snarky and less informative, while I'm seeing all of these plugs and mentionings of his work on other comic book titles, and I really don't understand what the book for his son is all about. Apparently he's the one who asked for comic book homage covers for his arc, which I felt were unnecessary. Buffy has superpowers, so besides having a superhero/comic book joke every 3 lines, the alternative covers look like uninspired rip-offs?


But I really liked the Twilight arc, so all is forgiven.
When Brad talks about the "completely beautiful explanation of how the entire Buffyverse works", I'm very confused. I've read the entire arc/series and I have not seen an explanation at all. Is it that, every generation, one slayer and one vampire fall in love?
Or two vampires...
Color me baffled. The writer entitles his story "The Power of Love" knowing that it references a title to an '80s cheese love ballad and takes the trouble to underscore the reference -- "How can you not?" -- in a panel reference. But it appears that the story itself isn't to be taken as cheese, even tho' Buffy responds to one of Angel's lines as 'cheesey' . . . yet the story itself is supposed to be an enlargement of the 'destiny' theme in early Buffy, and not, it seems, ironically.

Was it deadpan satire a la 'the Stoic Comedians'? meta-mockery? sincere tribute?

I think of the Emperor's response to the pantomime ballet in 'Amadeus' -- he's forbidden ballet music in his theatres, so the dancers practice performing without accompaniment. The Emperor comes in to watch the practice.

EMPEROR [doubtfull]: Is it -- modern?
COURTIER: You have forbidden ballet music in operas at court sire.
EMPEROR: I know, but . . . look at them!
Is not having a clue about BTVS and It's characters a common trait when it comes to folks writing this series, because this article comes across as yet another example of a bloke who hasn't a clue imo.

I'm stunned that he thinks Angel's in character here for one. It's like AtS never happened.

So, so, depressing on so many levels.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2010-05-08 08:04 ]
I know I'm not the only one who can't hear the words "Huey Lewis" without immediately flashing to Patrick Bateman chopping people up with an axe.

Good times.
Meltzer said this: " I love as a reader when it all makes sense."

What about when it doesn't?
Never have I been so glad that I simply can't take comics seriously.
'Nuff said.
Wow, I didn't get any of that from the interview. That's weird.

Remember that Meltzer almost definitely had nothing to do with Angel's characterization. He just wrote these 4 issues. Angel/Twilight is something that affects all of season 8, so it's not like the writer of these 4 issues came up with all of this. He just had the task of writing the critical moment.

Maybe if he had been a bigger fan of the show he could have found a way to spin it that kept Angel in character, instead of this guy who was so very clearly not Angel (Angel would never accept the end of the world for any reason, period, and he definitely would never try to make it happen).

But he's not, he's a comic book writer with probably some affection for the show but not obsessively so. He was given some parameters and I think he probably did his best with them.
I haven't read this last comic yet but I think we won't really learn how Angel got his Twilight on. Not in the Buffy series. We will have to assume whatever we want until it's tackled in the Angel comics. I'm sure we will get some hints but no full out answer.

I do think perhaps Meltzer watched Buffy but not ATS. I can see how the Angel of this comic could be the Angel from what we have seen on Buffy.

Perhaps at the end of the day-at this time in Angel's life the only one he cares about is Buffy...Why can't be a good thing.
O.o He really thought that Angel was even remotely in character? Or that that thing made sense?

I weep for the standards of the Buffy franchise.
Well, I recall that the 'exec producer' of this s8 is supposed to know Angel's character, isn't he? And I doubt any of the writers of arcs are allowed to go too far off the reservation.
baxter, the arc is over now, there's nothing more to expect from it. Angel was completely ridiculous. Not just slightly off but totally OOC.
I have not the faintest idea why Joss chose to let him be trashed and mutilated like that, but he has.

Maybe he's no longer interested and really thinks all Angel ever was, was some lame sparklepire.
I could see how Meltzer might have written Angel like that having only seen BtVS and not AtS. Still (comma/my comma button is missing) you would think that someone would clue him in.
I thought Metzlerís point about Angelís (kind of) immortality giving him a different perspective was valid although it hadnít occurred to me before. Angel knows that one day heís going to have to watch Connor die. Most parents donít have that. It's something they more or less dropped on the show after BtVS S3 when Angel took the mayor's point about what an immortal in love with a mortal would mean for the immortal pretty much to heart. With hindsight it's pretty explicitly in Angel's "all things must end" statement just before Buffy Daffy Ducks her way out. Itís also foreshadowed by the "all mortals die" comment Twilight made about the troops in Retreat and if it's in more than one arc I guess it's official. Detached immortal perspective also applies to future Willow in Jossís TOYL arc and to time-displaced Buffy. She's not part of Fray's world in which all the people she fights for are long dead and she gets all Angel and big picture like while sheís there.
Is anybody considering that the reason he bought into the "Twilight" thing is that Connor is dead? And that that would kind of be the last straw for him? He lost Doyle, Wesley, Fred, Cordelia....hell even Darla...and then to finally lose his son might make him more susceptible to destiny?

Or, to borrow from stormwreath's LJ review of the issue, more susceptible to the pull of what seems like a really screwed up religious/faith/cult thing.

Especially if he's told that by doing so, he can be with Buffy forever, her being the only thing he has left. Which is why he might not care much for the world at this point. Even Angel, champion though he may be, can get beat down so much to a point where he just says, "F**k this."

Buffy says she's fighting for her family. That they're down there in the world.....but Angel doesn't have a family anymore. They're all gone.

I don't know if that's the case, but it seems pretty plausible to me. If we're going to find out why, my bet is that Spike is going to be the one to spill.

I just really wish people were speculating more rather than just trashing. Am I alone here?

[ edited by pat32082 on 2010-05-08 18:36 ]
I can't speak for anyone else, but the intensity of my love for the Buffyverse, is what is making this so difficult to swallow. It's really upsetting. I loathe it with the equivalence that I loved it before.

I keep hoping it will get better but it only gets worse. I hope that the boink fest was the bottom but I'm scared it will go even lower. After seeing what they did to the character of Angel, the favorite, I am terrified of what they will do to MY favorite, Spike.
pat32082- this would be something that we have utterly no indication about, and to introduce in Buffy when the ATS comic still exists seems irreconcilable as well as truly bad writing.

xane, I'm with you.
Of course we don't. And why would we when it's a Buffy-focused comic? But the Angel comic, as far as I know, hasn't caught up to S8 yet, so that story could be being told in the future. People are just screaming that Angel's out-of-character without actually trying to think of what may have caused him to get where he's at right now.

Al I'm doing is putting forth a suggestion to have an actual discussion about, but, I'll just go back to lurking now.
I would like to find something to be positive about. Speculate away!
How will season 8 lead into season 9? And bear in mind we'll be having the Twilight debate again in two yers time, when the motion comics come out (and then a year after that when the DVD is released).
@pat32082. I'm definitely wanting to see the whole story before judging things. But it is frustrating to be left with so many questions right before a four month hiatus. And I think a lot of the remarks here need to be read in light of Meltzers's interview -- which suggest that he doesn't think anything needs explaining at all. If this just is all the story we'll get on the subject of how Angel got to this place, a lot of the critiques are fully justified.

I also don't see the strategy of waiting for IDW to explain it. IDW has explicitly said they aren't going to let season 8 dictate to them what they need to do with Angel's character. The two stories just are separate. I think we should think of them as divorced universes.
I found Angel's appearance in "Chosen" made no sense when considering the events at the end of Angel season 4. This was never explained and I wouldn't hold my breath for any explanation in the comics of Angel's attitude either. Connor is of no interest to Angel when he's dealing with Buffy. As to whether the back story here will be dealt with on the IDW comics, that seems unlikely seeing as IDW say they've not been told anything about the developments in Buffy season 8. So unless Joss is planning to get involved again with the IDW story I suspect that any 'explanation' will come from the writers trying to make their story fit with where the character appears to be rather than explaining a fully thought out back-story.
Well I don't think what Meltzer thinks matters, re: what needs explaining and what doesn't. In the context of the Buffyverse, Meltzer was just another writer hired to tell Joss' story. The same way David Fury was or Jane or Doug. They can all have their opinions, but only Joss' counts.

What matters is what Joss does with the final arc. If he doesn't at least hint at or strongly imply what Angel's reasons were (because I do think it's something that IDW will address), I'll be as disappointed as the rest of you as far as Angel's character is concerned. But this ain't over yet.

He may not, but I find it hard to believe that Joss, who's planned this story for years now, didn't know the reactions he was going to get, and that he'd have to tell why. Meltzer got the "Big Picture Why." Joss gets the personal--which is how it should be. It makes sense that he gets the last arc, because if I were Joss, I'd want to be the one who has that task.

But other than the Angel development (leaving aside my earlier speculation), this has always felt like Buffy to me, even when it meandered. Then again, I'm one of those people who doesn't think the series went to sh*t after Season 5, and thinks there's been a progression from there to here, so...

helcat: Connor is of no interest to Angel when he's dealing with Buffy? Uh, based on what?
What is the "completely beautiful explanation of how the entire Buffyverse works"? I still don't get it. Does anyone? Please explain if you do!
Riker, I believe he was referring to the "true nature of the universe" as in the Slayer line and its purpose in waiting for the one Slayer to end all Slayers, bring the world into a new reality, etc.
Pat32082 - I am refering to Angel as he appeared in "End of Days" and "Chosen". This Angel seemed bereft of every development that had occured since season 3 Buffy.
pat32082: You say "He may not, but I find it hard to believe that Joss, who's planned this story for years now, didn't know the reactions he was going to get, and that he'd have to tell why."

Well, he has had it wrong before. He surely had it wrong when he killed Tara, of course- and later had to admit to that. So I do think he might not read the audience right here- when more than half of the comments in this thread are negative, that is saying something, since this is the one place where he is going to always be given the most positive reading. An analogy here would be the fact that Lindelof and Cuse have said they will not answer every mystery when Lost ends in a few weeks- which almost certainly means that there are going to be disappointed fans.

In the absence of evidence, we have a lot of people offering up explanations for where the story is (which is certainly okay, don't get me wrong- it is good to speculate), but truth is, none of us here know anything about where it is going, and whether it will make sense or whether we will like what happens. And it is possible it won't make sense, and we won't like it. And wishing and rationalizing won't change that.

(By the way, my own belief, based on nothing, is that this is leading to Dawn's death in order to close the possibly open door that is leading to this new universe- but that's me. And thus S9 is about her coming back.)
It's just a little embarassing that the show I have been proudly promoting to anyone who would listen for the last ten years, has been essentially reduced to a twilight wanna be. I'll admit it, I feel like a chump.
People are just screaming that Angel's out-of-character without actually trying to think of what may have caused him to get where he's at right now.


A couple problems with that, though. 1) Angel is published by IDW and they're not collaborating with Dark Horse (as far as I know). The editors of each have mentioned that they don't want to step on each other's toes, but, that's all.

(Again, as far as I know-- someone correct me if I'm wrong).

#2) Wanting to destroy the world is outside of his character no matter what, IMHO. If we are going to get that story, I think it'll have to come form Dark Horse, and with 5 issues left, maybe we will (and it'll be compelling), but, somehow I don't think so. Hoping to be proven wrong on this one.
People are just screaming that Angel's out-of-character without actually trying to think of what may have caused him to get where he's at right now.

It's out of character until Dark Horse shows, not tells, the story of how Angel came to this point. It requires actual characterization. Imagine if you jumped from Angel hugging baby Connor in Season 3 to tossing Connor across the room in Deep Down or Fred tazing Connor. Without the context to understand what's happening, you are not grounded in the character's POV. It's bad storytelling, straight-up.

How many people, very reasonable fans, have said that Angel's behavior makes him seem insane? I believe even Simon has said multiple times that Angel's acting "insane". If he seems "insane" to the fans who love and have faith in Whedon's work, then clearly there's a problem with the story. Because faithful and good characterization doesn't make uber fans of the Whedonverse think "oh hey, he's still acting insane."

Season 8 is metaphor and mystery heavy, but extremely weak in characterization and world building. Just go read Jeanty's interview to see how the General lacks characterization. Also, remember General Voll? Why did he disappear and get replaced by this cypher-General who even Jeanty says has effectively no characterization dedicated to him? Even humanity isn't getting adequate characterization with the "Vampires In Public/Slayers Hated" storyline. Angel gets no logical build-up or explanation for his actions in the text. Xander and Dawn are apparently dating but you wouldn't know it even though the best time to go for drama in a relationship is mid-apocalypse--people in a crisis reveal themselves, but apparently this means that Xander and Dawn don't really give a crap about each other unlike in Retreat when Espenson wrote Dawn always at Xander's side and even catching him when he fell on some rocks; this reinforces the appearance that Xander/Dawn was only meant to serve as something to make Buffy go boo-hoo at how alone she is.

I could go on.
If he seems "insane" to the fans who love and have faith in Whedon's work, then clearly there's a problem with the story.


He does seem insane but then I could argue that the Universe or as of yet undislosed circumstances drove him that way. I would imagine that finding out that you have a Destiny would drive the most stable person slightly demented. And when you're also a vampire who got his human soul back without wanting it, well you're not going to be the most level headed person on the playing field. In the Buffyverse, Angel and Buffy were forced into their roles. That's got to play havoc with their minds.
Emmie, I think a better comparison would be from going To Shanshu in LA to the lawyer massacre, but other wise I'm very much with you on your points, especially the great 'How to redeem a hero' essay from the issue discussion.
Well, he has had it wrong before. He surely had it wrong when he killed Tara, of course- and later had to admit to that. So I do think he might not read the audience right here- when more than half of the comments in this thread are negative, that is saying something, since this is the one place where he is going to always be given the most positive reading


The vibe in the early issues was good & when people were saying 'wtf? Giantdawn???' I loved Dawn dwarfing Buffy & Xander in the great role reversal. It was amazing that Joss & the other writers managed such good material -- I'm not a fan of "Retreat" but I think it was defensible.

When I read comments by typically moderate, temperate, patient readers, I realized that for once I wasn't in the minority. Theories abound but until Joss decides to break silence, it looks very much like he got caught up in one of those remote-cast collaborations that seem really crazy & interesting at the time but which usually go into the "cull bits for later use" file rather than actually get to the completion stage. It doesn't appear as if any of this was run through any kind of filter. Most people do have a taste-smell tester friend who's willing to tell you why you shouldn't do something, even if you decide you're still going to go through with it.

The most positive thing to be said about #35 is that Buffy does blow off Destiny, but her credibility has been shot to Mcboogerville. Tho' she seems a bit less OOC, it feels too sock-puppet-ish -- you hear the writer's voice, his feeligns, rather than Buffy's, much less Angel's.
If, let's say, Brian Lynch, were to write a detailed 4 issue arc at IDW based on how Angel got to the point he is at in season 8, wouldn't that satisfy the readers? Some may like it, some may not, but it would certainly fill in a lot of blanks. All that is missing is backstory. Just because it hasn't come yet doesn't mean Angel is damaged goods as far as his character is concerned.

Oh, and, Brian, if you're reading this feel free to pitch that idea to IDW. Miss you in the Angel pages. :)
I'm really sad that I've become an active member of the site when I'm getting increasingly disenchanted with the way things are going....oh how I wish I could be on here raving about the latest episode of the shows! Instead I feel myself bitching much too often, so must try to resist.

What I will say is that Meltzer's talk of Angel's 'perspective' (as opposed to the universe's influence) seems to negate ANY growth the character made on his own show (a show that started with the Powers sending him Doyle to avoid him looking at things in too 'big picture' a way). As someone who's entrance to this world was via AtS, I find that troubling.

So, to try and be positive.....I would LOVE to see the story of how Angel got to where we see him in S8 as told by Brian Lynch as jay swif suggests. Who's with us!?

I would have loved it even more if the story of Angel's fall from grace could have involved characters from his show too....hell, despite him being my favourite, I would even have accepted him being bumped off if there was a moving story in which Connor, Spike and Buffy had to take him down after he succumbed to his predestined role in the Apocalypse....and it turned out Connor was his Shanshu. Woulda been a tragic epic!

[ edited by Alex_Jamieson on 2010-05-09 00:26 ]
There's another problem with the absence of background to explain Angel's otherwise seemingly insane or OOC behavior: and that's that Buffy doesn't have that background either, and we're missing the panel where she stares at him and asks him just when it is that he went batsh*t insane. Meltzer just told us why there's no such panel: he doesn't think there's anything off about Angel.

We can (and I still do) hope that Joss has something to say about how Angel got to this place. But I'm really worried were never going to explain how it is that Buffy either didn't notice or didn't care that Angel is nuts. Hope springs eternal; I'm still on board with the comics. A lot of interesting stuff is happening. But when people complain about some of the writing, I've got nothing I can say that sounds to me like a credible defense.
Maybe it's the fact that I'm a moral/political philosophy student professionally, but what's really infuriated me about the most recent developments with Angel is that he's been turned from one of the verse's most morally sophisticated thinkers to...well, a comic book villain. And I think, based on his comments in this interview, Meltzer shares some of the blame. This will be a bit long - it's a hard case to prove, and I apologize in advance. I also apologize for typos and incoherent sentences - I had much less time than I would have liked to write this.

Angel's line from "Epiphany" ("If nothing we do matters, then the only thing that matters is what we do") is in my view the most intellectually profound insight ever uttered by a character on the show. The idea that in the absence of some greater notion of meaning, all that matters is our actions and the world around has been the core of secular ethical theory since at least Hobbes, and arguably since the Greeks. The implications of it are sweeping, complex, and hotly debated (though normally in different terms than the ones I'm using here).

Angel's actions throughout his show (though it started in Buffy too, at least back to a conversation about evil in "Gingerbread") have reflected him have to deal with such ethical quandaries. The decision to fight Jasmine and to kill Drogyn are two particularly clear instances. In the first, he destroyed a world where everyone's material needs were provided for in the name of human agency - it is more important for people to be able to make free decisions and choose their own life paths than for people to stop fighting. The second reflected a consequentialism (the idea that the right thing to do is the thing that best maximizes a particular outcome - more people being alive, overall happiness, etc.) that's always underlied Angel's moral thinking - if you need to kill one to achieve a more important end (in this case, holding off the apocalypse and yet again demonstrating the human capacity for free action "for one shining moment, we can show them they don't own us"), then that's morally necessary.

But wait - doesn't that "the ends justify the means" thinking lead naturally to Twilight? Some people on this site have argued that. But it's wrong. The moral core of consequentialism is that all people are moral equals - I shouldn't save my friend instead of thousands of other people because he's my friend. Instead, all people are morally valuable, and equally so. Every death is a tragedy, so we should try to prevent as many as possible. Consequentialism is about concern for persons (and, depending on some other views, animals too).

And there's the problem - Twangel (I refuse to call this comic thing Angel) doesn't care about people. He thinks that all people should be sacrificed to bring about some process of evolution. But a consequentialist of the sort Angel was on the shows would say "screw that - what matters morally are people. The fact that something is natural doesn't make it an end we should bring about." Consequentialism cares about the effects of actions on living things. No consequentialist would see Twilight as a good thing because it's part of a natural plan, as Twangel seems to think.

The real kicker here is that Angel's consequentialism wasn't about happiness - it was about freedom. Killing Jasmine was good because it made everybody free - and freedom is morally important. Killing Drogyn was good because it made people free from the harm caused by the Senior Partners' plans, and because it demonstrated the human capacity for free action. Since he dropped being a hermit, and started fighting evil, Angel has always cared most about saving human lives, and ensuring those people were able to live those lives freely.

For Twangel to be Angel, he would have had to give up on this entirely. Stop caring about people - what we do doesn't matter. Stop caring about freedom - destiny, not choice, is what should guide us. Stop caring about his mission - Buffy and destiny have replaced saving lives.

Without the huge and frankly pathetic copout they seem to be setting up of "Twilight has mindcontrolled Angel, so it wasn't him," they'd need some pretty in-depth backstory to explain what happened to Angel. Like, at least the equivalent of a whole season on T.V. Even some significant progress will be hard to do in the last few issues given all of the other stuff (Spike! Bangel sex! Demons! Ending Twilight! THE ENTIRE REST OF THE CHARACTERS BESIDES BUFFY AND THE VAMPIRES!) that has to be dealt with. In other words, we're supposed to believe Angel has turned on everything he's ever stood for, without anything more than AT MOST part of a few upcoming issues. This is horrific.


I lay part of this at Meltzer's doorsteps because of this response:

How hard is it to split your empathy for each character's point of view while writing them? Buffy has so much history with the Scoobies and her family and reasons for going back, but it seems with Angel who's lived so long alone and through so many lives you want to put yourself in his shoes to a certain extent so you can make his half of the argument that much stronger on the page.

I can say very clearly, there's not a question of who I agree with. Buffy sings in this issue because I so firmly believe what she's saying in every panel. I really do. I just can't view anything as more important than those ties we have with our family and friends. It's at the core of everything I am as a person. So yes, it is absolutely more difficult for me as a writer to get into that mental mode where you see Angel and what he sees. I think it's a similar thing whenever you write that "immortal." There has to be this cerebral/emotional distance you see in that character. When Brian [Bendis] writes Christian Walker in "Powers" or even in something like "Highlander," it's not just that it's cool to be quiet. I really think to have gone through that much death and that much horror and that much loss of loved ones, there has to be a disconnect from yourself and reality. Otherwise you'd go insane. And that's not something I ever want to be able to relate to, but I certainly try hard. What's also important here is that Angel is not being cold or uncaring. He just has a different view here because of his own experiences. There is a real fine point on that.


But Angel would never defend the position Meltzer attributes to him in the show. Saying there's a greater good that's sometimes more important than our family ties or personal connections is NOT the same thing as saying "I believe first and foremost in destiny as our guide to life." That Meltzer can't seem to see this conceptual space, and then sets up as Angel as defending a position that no sane person possibly could (his "half of the argument," if you can call it that), explains a lot about why so many of us have seen the characterization as being off here.

But ultimately, the buck's gotta stop with Joss. He wrote himself into this corner, and I can't see a way out of it. Of course, I'm not Joss, and given how much I love Buffy, Angel, Firefly, etc., I hope he can pull something out. But at this point, given how unreflective of the show the comics have been (culminating in the tour-de-force of wretchedness of the Twilight arc), I'm really pessimistic. And that makes me want to drink like Spike and Angel on the way back from the Old Ones' tomb. At least that might remind me of the characters I love.

[ edited by goingtowork on 2010-05-09 05:03 ]
That Meltzer response makes me think perhaps Angel has seen even more loss then we are aware of...

There are many sane people who believe similar to what Angel talks about in the panel's I've read of this comic. To be ascended into a higher plane where our actions on earth have taken us where we either can believe our friends and family are safe or left to be destroyed sure sounds like many views of religion Heaven, or Rapture or what the ones left living tell each other after a loved one has died. And not saying Buffy was sane in season 6 but it even sounds like Buffy's thinking when she was dead.

Now this line of thinking does seem off from Angel during his series but I'll wait to fully judge until after reading Joss's arc.
There are many sane people who believe similar to what Angel talks about in the panel's I've read of this comic. To be ascended into a higher plane where our actions on earth have taken us where we either can believe our friends and family are safe or left to be destroyed sure sounds like many views of religion Heaven, or Rapture or what the ones left living tell each other after a loved one has died. And not saying Buffy was sane in season 6 but it even sounds like Buffy's thinking when she was dead.


Buffy's death was sacrificial, so her feelings of bliss & being complete were appropriate to her gift. Angel is delusional if he thinks he merits the ascent after choosing what he evidently thought was the lesser of two evils. He was supposedly achieving bliss in this Higher Plane, so did the Higher Plane neutralize it, or was it a metaphysical quaalude introduced into his system that kept his soul, however gaga, in place?
Excellent post, goingtowork.
Consequentialism is an outgrowth of utilitarianism, and there is no way I can see Angel deciding that the best way to maximize either happiness or good would be to allow the complete destruction of the entire known universe, killing at least 6 billion people, in order for (a) him and Buffy to be happy, and (b) allow for the development of a new universe, with all its unknown quantities.

My thought is that if the story about why Angel feels like this is revealed only in these last issues, and there is no way to see the logical growth that led to this- which right now, having reread the comic I do not- that's just really troubling.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2010-05-09 15:48 ]
Great mini-essay, goingtowork. You should save it; maybe you can use parts of it some time if you ever have to write an essay on moralism in popular culture or something.

Angel's line from "Epiphany" ("If nothing we do matters, then the only thing that matters is what we do") is in my view the most intellectually profound insight ever uttered by a character on the show.


Agree, and I always loved that line. Angel was always a character who seemed to spend a lot of time thinking about what was right, more so than any other character in the Buffyverse.

I still don't blame Meltzer, though. He's a hired gun, good at what he does, which is write entertaining comics. It's not his job to watch 8 seasons of TV and understand Angel on that level. Just like an actor or a writer on a weekly TV show, his job is to take the outline and mold it into something that everyone can work with, but it's the director and producer's job to correct him if he goes astray.
Agreed, dispatch. And if the director/producer was sufficiently involved to oversee coital positions and dialogue I find it strange that blatant misrepresentation of character slipped through. But I guess there will be a deus-ex-machina explanation (the monks made him do it?) coming in the final arc.
@Maggie I think what Buffy mostly noticed about Angel was that he was sad. At the end of #33 she seems to have accepted that he didnít orchestrate the hate on Slayers, it was already there (and because she changed the world). His whole pitch from then on is about how they (he) canít be happy, not just isnít, canít. Sheís always responded to that sadness in him even when it makes him do dumb stuff like stay up till sunrise in an exposed area.

@going to work
Maybe it's the fact that I'm a moral/political philosophy student professionally, but what's really infuriated me about the most recent developments with Angel is that he's been turned from one of the verse's most morally sophisticated thinkers to...well, a comic book villain.
Angel occasionally comes up with sound philosophical statements but they donít add up to form a consistent philosophy. In S2 he has his ďNothing we do matters..Ē epiphany but instead of sticking to the small acts of kindness he spends s3 working towards become a champion and in S4 heís all ďWe live as though the world were as it should be.Ē

The real kicker here is that Angel's consequentialism wasn't about happiness - it was about freedom. Killing Jasmine was good because it made everybody free - and freedom is morally important. Killing Drogyn was good because it made people free from the harm caused by the Senior Partners' plans, and because it demonstrated the human capacity for free action. Since he dropped being a hermit, and started fighting evil, Angel has always cared most about saving human lives, and ensuring those people were able to live those lives freely.
Angelís a complicated guy. He ends world peace in favour of free will but in the very next episode makes a deal with W&H to take that freedom away from Connor and anyone else who remembers him so Connor can be happy. Two aspects of Angel you havenít mentioned are his fatalism, his tendency to trust in higher powers, prophecies and destiny and his pessimism. In Power Play he describes the world as a eternal machine controlled by the Senior Partners that mankind will always be too weak to destroy. The best he can hope to achieve is his one shining moment of defiance but this world canít be changed, it canít be saved from its long slow slide towards entropy and degradation.

Twilight offers a way out from all that, a fresh start, a new world, ďAfter all these centuries---No more fighting---no more failing---No more dying.Ē Itís not only new itís destiny, itís meant to be, itís the world as it should be that heroes are supposed to live in, where a humanity can evolve free of the Senior Partners machinations and sooner or later itís going to happen anyway.

I donít think Angel is entirely himself in #35 but I can see how he of all the characters would be tempted by what Twilight promises. He doesnít have the ties to the old world, the lower plane that Buffy does. He has the abstraction of humanity but all his friends have died, Doyle, Cordelia, Fred, Wesley, Gunn. He saw Connor die in AtF. It's been reset but the memory is real and for Angel memories often seem to be more real that what's going on around him. They haunt him constantly.
I am worried about what they will do with Spike. I hope it is at least better than they are currently treating him at IDW. Outside of Bryan Lynch's writing, Spike seems to have nothing to contribute outside of comic relief. He has come too far to be treated in such a way. I really like the Spike preview cover as it shows a serious expression, IDW would have him sitting in the corner with a dunce cap for lodging spit balls at the teacher...breaks my heart.... And by the way, are we going to get a (hopefully tearful) reunion between Buffy and Spike, or are we supposed to assume that she knows he's back? I hope she doesn't know as I have been waiting a long time for them to be back together and it would be a real disappointment to be cheated out of an emotional reunion. Buffy and Spike have really been drug through the mud together and it would be so wonderful to have something positive happen between them.
My thought is that if the story about why Angel feels like this is revealed only in these last issues, and there is no way to see the logical growth that led to this- which right now, having reread the comic I do not- that's just really troubling.


If a story still has unresolved issues, it's probably the best course not to comment until those matters have played out. This interview leaves the impression that, whatever remains to be revealed, Angel's stance was his, full stop, with no hints "more to come" or "wait and see". Evasive as they sound, as they are, it lets speculation run over the dam rather than have it build & build behind it.

Even in #32 & #33, the only character voice that sounded like the character belonged to Giles. All the main players sounded like a separate voice, the writer's voice. I'd never read anything written by BM & at first I just wrote it down to the comics' references already being used freely, beginning with the Action Comics tribute cover (Joss holding his head in panic seems prophetic in retrospect); but the panels where BM feels that Buffy is singing sound to me more like karaoke -- he hadn't gotten out of Buffy's way enough. You'd want someone with a strong authorial voice elsewhere in comics or in novels, but not with Buffy. If ever there was a case for the Invisible Poet (well, scripter), Buffy is it.
I don't expect Angel to have the same characterization on Buffy that he does on Angel. He didn't on the shows. You have to do a lot of fan-wanking to see him as the same person in Chosen that he is in Angel season four.

Personally, I don't much care for Buffy's Angel, but I love Angel's Angel.
Agreed with redeem147 that Angel has seemed out of character in his later guest appearances on Buffy, although part of that might've been the fact that he was taken out of the context of, say, a season four, and dropped into an entirely different story, without much reference to the circumstances he's left.

The Angel we see in #35, on the other hand, has been a part of Buffy's story for quite awhile - since before the beginning of Buffy season 8 in fact - as Twilight. Apparently, he has left his crew in LA behind to do the super villain spiel; something that doesn't make much sense in and of itself either.

So I do really agree with most that he seemed out of character in #35, when compared to the Angel we've known - and loved - since he turned up in Buffy's first season. I also feel issues 34 and 35 have been among the weakest things we've seen on Buffy, probably ever, not because Meltzer is a bad writer (in fact, I absolutely loved the beginning of his Twilight arc), but because the story simply isn't that strong - and that 'fault' probably lies with Joss more than anyone else.

The fact that Meltzer seems to be approaching Angel as a 'standard' immortal, comparing him to Highlander, etcetera, reads to me like he's using a standard type instead of taking a look at the character he's actually writing and explains part of why he was acting out of character here (but like others have said, one can't expect the comic book guest writer to approach Buffy season 8 as anything other than another comic book writing gig; it's not up to him to have everything fit in with established continuity perfectly or have consistent characterization; if someone signs up to write Superman, I suspect they don't read and analyze the entire run either, after all ;)).

But Angel's been out of character since way before issues 34 and 35 (its just now we know that he's Angel). He's left everyone behind and became Twilight, which isn't something the Angel we know would do (unless he had an - as yet unclear - very good reason). He's also still being driven by this mystical glowy force (which, by the way, as a concept I'm not loving, just like the new reality and it being brought about by a bit of sex - we've had some weird and loopy stuff on Buffy in its time, but this is right up there with kittens as stakes in a game of poker - simply a cheesy bridge too far; and whereas the kittens were a forgettable minor point, this is a major mythology rewrite). So I expect that - despite the fact that this interview reads like Meltzer seems to think Angel was in character - he's not supposed to be completely himself.

But, in closing, I also feel it's too soon to make a definitive judgment on what's happening. Because it's not just Angel, either. Sure, Buffy seems more like herself in #35 (although still not completely either), but there's still the unresolved 'not herself'-ishness of issue #34 as well. I fully expect this to get addressed in future issues (I'll be disappointed if it doesn't) and I also hope that Joss manages to tie this story together in a satisfying way.

So here's hoping, because - despite its ups and downs - I've been enjoying season 8 so far. But the last two issues have been a bit much and have been lacking in believable story and characterization and are - quite frankly - unworthy of the high standard I've come to expect from Buffy and Joss, even in my least favorite seasons or episodes. Which is sad.

I really hope the final arc by Joss makes things better - so far, he has still consistently delivered in this comic and I have faith that with him writing it directly, he can still turn things around. I'm fine with not liking the story or choices from time to time - I have before, on the show - it just sucks if it's also not up to the basic standards of quality we've come to expect.
In his interviews, both before and after, BM sounded like he was quite familiar with the requirements for writing Buffy -- "The fans understand these tropes", he loved the chance to explore the bigger story involved in the history -- so it sounds as if he came at the story as a fan of the show himself, rather than as a hired hand. I went into #32 with a good will & #33 the same -- even at the end of #33, I thought there would be a sort of gigantic romantic quickie, in keeping with the many exaggerations that seemed connecting the issues, whether it was the ironic Dawn-saga taking her through the fable mutations, or Dracula-Xander, or the 'cartoon ep', all of which seemed to be relieving the more traumatic business. Buffy having superduperpowers seemed more in this line. Instead, the Good Joss was spirited away into the Black Lodge (Twin Peaks fans here, surely) . . . maybe he'll bring the Good Dale back when he returns . . .
Instead, the Good Joss was spirited away into the Black Lodge (Twin Peaks fans here, surely) . . . maybe he'll bring the Good Dale back when he returns . . .

That's the best explanation I've heard thus far.

And the owls are not what they seem.
@goingtowork:

Bravo! You just clearly stated (in that long post) all of my concerns about this recent arc in a way that was persuasive and NOT reactionary and abrasive. It's nice to read the well-written opinions of people who are better able to state my ideas than I am.
Hayes' post certainly provided some food for thought, after I thought I was pretty convinced by goingtowork's post (also equally well-written and compelling).

I could see Angel just saying "fuck it all, I've lived through 200+ years of mostly misery, I deserve to be happy with Buffy, I feel little to no connection with humanity given that all the humans I was close to are dead, let 'em deal with the fallout without me and Buffy, there're plenty of other slayers, wiccans, and other do-gooders who might be able to save 'em from the world-upset, but it's really not my concern anymore." If Connor is dead.

I would be open to seeing that story play out, if well-written. Buffy and Angel can't both remain (and end up) shiny and fulfilled in their hero roles. It wouldn't be "off" for one of them to go dark permanently, or just apathetic, depending on how you look at it (okay, maybe it'd be off for Buffy, but with Angel...well, Season 2 of his series, anyone? Guy does depress easily, and for good reason a lot of the time).

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