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Angel : After the Fall, issues #2-#5

Note: Again, this is just me trying to figure out if I've correctly interpreted what is going on in the comics. It's getting easier to follow, but the abbreviated nature of the genre still makes me scratch my head over certain panels.

I have also decided that posting these summaries in my LJ for the After the Fall series is as far as I'm going to go. Too much contradiction between comic book series and fan debate over canon for my canon-stickler tastes. So this will not be going onto ATPo.

Angel: After the Fall, issue #2

The issue begins with Angel heading off to Santa Monica to see his son. He killed the demon lord Burge's son, which in Burge's mind, meant Angel had "declared war." And that makes Angel's son a plausible target for revenge.

At the safe house in Santa Monica, Angel runs into Nina. They are no longer together, most likely as a result of Angel breaking it off with her towards the end of season 5 for her own protection. Nina informs Angel that Connor has gone to Westwood. The lord of that fiefdom, Kr'ph, was killed the night before. And, as can be expected, a power vacuum has been created. So Angel heads over there and finds the former Destroyer of Quortoth taking on some of the contenders for the new lord of Westwood. Angel lets Connor know that Burge might come after him.

Angel and Connor have an awkward alliance. Angel sends humans to Connor's safe house, Connor gladly gives them refuge, but the two of them have not been spending a lot of time together. Angel, of course, feels predictably guilty for "sending his son to hell for a second time." Connor just kind of wonders why he doesn't see Dad more often. Angel simply says he was recovering from injuries for a long while.

Gwen Raiden, another of Connor's partners at the safe house, ventures in on father and son battling the would-be lords. She tells them they need to look at the scene of Kr'ph's remains. "There's a new player in town, boys," she says. "And he's out for blood."

This is of course a segue to Gunn's lair, where he is now holding the ex-lord of Westwood's pet fish prisoner. Gunn assures "George" the fish that he is one of the good guys.

Gunn being a vampire is an interesting turn of events. One incensed reader of the comics wrote in complaining about this heroic street fighter who grew up saving the folks in his neighborhood from vampires and then lost his sister to vampires, being forced by canon (if indeed, the comics are canon) to become a vampire. The response to this fan's complaint was cryptic, but I got the impression that turning Gunn into his own worst nightmare was sort of the point of Joss's Season 6. These characters have been sent to hell, and not only that, their own personal hells.

Gunn, proud vampire-fighter, is now a vampire. Wesley, who fought tooth and nail to rescue himself from his former stiff-button Watcher persona and the childhood power issues it embodied, is now forced to wear a suit and be at the beck-and-call of a large paternalistic organization. And Angel is wracked each and every moment with knowing that he is the indirect cause of everyone's hellish existence.

Our heroes are in hell, both literally and very personally.

Despite being turned and being, one presumes, soulless, Gunn fancies himself still a hero. And not just a hero, the hero. He blames Angel for his situation--being a vampire and being in hell. Despite the fact that Angel had a soul, and therefore, more humanity than most vampires, the human Angel once was was never that great a guy to begin with, and Gunn doesn't trust that Angel can save them from their current situation, because, as a man, Angel was weak, and he carried that with him even as a souled vampire.

Still, if Gunn is actually soulless (and his slaughter of those slaves in issue #1 would indicate this), we have to wonder if he is only fooling himself about what is truly driving him.

The scene segues back to Westwood. Angel believes Kr'ph was targeted because someone wanted the Eye of Ramras, a talisman which amplifies its owner's power. Gwen believes Kr'ph was killed by vampires. Angel sees a message written in primordial Sanskrit, and in blood. He believes he knows the vampire responsible, and heads to the fiefdom of Beverly Hills, where he finds Spike surrounded by a court of bathing beauties (lame, I'm just sayin').

Angel and Spike are definitely not on good terms these days. Like Gunn and Angel himself, Spike blames Angel for their hellish situation, and all Angel sees is Spike hanging around in a demonic fiefdom court, albeit the court of Illyria. The death of Kr'ph for possession of the Eye has the handiwork of Illyria written all over it, which in Angel's mind, makes Spike the prime suspect for killing Kr'ph's slaves.

So, by the end of issue #2, we find our team, once united in a common cause, completely divided by territory and suspicion. Which is probably just what the Senior Partners wanted.

Angel: After the Fall, issue #3
The issue opens with Angel battling Illyria, who has found him visiting her little fiefdom. He wants a word with her, because he believes she may be responsible for killing the demon lord Kr'ph and stealing the Eye of Ramras. During the fight, Illyria has him at her mercy, pinned to the wall with swords in his hands. Then she hesitates. We see Angel, apparently from Illyria's point of view, as a Smile Time puppet, as an infant.

Angel wonders if there is anything of Fred left in her. If so, it might be a weakness, something he can use to get the upper hand.

Spike comes in and sees them like this, and asks Illyria to stop.

Just then, Angel's dragon friend crashes Spike and Illyria's fortress hideaway. Spike is angry with Angel for compromising his home, but not for the reason Angel assumes--because Spike has somehow found a place to hide from the hellish circumstances of L.A. where the blood flows free and he is surrounded by adoring admirers.

This is a front, as Connor explains when he appears just as suddenly. Spike has been using his position as the apparent sidekick of the lord of Beverly Hills to do exactly what Angel has been doing--saving humans and sending them to safety in Santa Monica.

This dismays Angel, not only because Spike has been doing it longer and more successfully, but because his son has become pals with Spike behind his back. But Angel has been a bit out of the loop for a reason--after L.A. was sent to hell, he was unconscious for quite a while, recovering from injuries. His friends adjusted to life in hell without him. He is the late-comer on the scene.

Angel now believes Spike and Illyria were framed for the death of the lord of Westwood by somebody else, and he is determined to find out who.

The scene changes to a meeting of the lords of the various fiefdoms. The building where they are meeting has been cursed with "a power countermand," probably like the spell on Lorne's old club, Caritas, that prevents them from doing violence to each other. They note that the lord of Silver Lake is not there, nor is the lord of Beverly Hills (Illyria). They are meeting to discuss the death of Burgh's (the lord of downtown L.A.) son. Burgh wants to kill Angel. The others warn him that Wolfram and Hart won't allow this. This limit to their power, along with the power countermand, would indicate they are only serving as lords of L.A. at the sufferance of the Senior Partners, and have no absolute power there.

Just then, Angel and Wesley appear. Wesley, the apparent liaison of the Senior Partners, tells them they are free to kill Angel (although if he is actually speaking for the Partners, or going against them, is not clear). Angel says if he wins, he gets to be lord of L.A.--all of it. They agree to meet in two days to do battle, Angel against the appointed champions of each of the lords.

A lot is at stake here, because, we then learn, Angel awoke from his injuries, and has been roaming L.A. saving people, as a mere human being. He is no longer a vampire.

Angel: After the Fall, issue #4

The issue begins in the alley at the end of Not Fade Away. Angel is fighting demons in the pouring rain. In mid-fight, he is teleported to a rooftop and L.A. is cast into hell. He leaps off the building to return to the fight, and in the process breaks his back.

Because he's only human.

Wesley appears to find him like that, already dressed in the suit he is now condemned to wear in his ghostly state.

In issue #2, Spike made a comment that during the battle in the alley, Gunn had "become a four-course buffet." Spike believes Gunn died in the alley. All Angel remembers is Gunn being dragged away, but not much more than that.

Like Wesley's ghostly purgatory and Gunn's vampire state, hell, for Angel, has been personalized,. His hell is to be human without the Shanshu. He believes he is human because the Senior Partners wanted to strip him of his power. Angel's only advantage is that no one knows he is human except he and Wesley. The two of them have been using a glamour to make it appear that Angel is still a vampire, and dwindling magicks to heal his battle wounds. Angel does not want the Partners to win the advantage of making him human, so he is trying to behave as if he is not human.

But now he is supposed to fight the demon lords of L.A., or at least their appointed champions. As Wesley advises Angel of the folly of this in his room at Wolfram and Hart, the Transuding Furies appear.

The scene cuts to Gunn, who is standing atop a building across from the Wolfram and Hart office building. He sees Angel drive away.

Meanwhile, two of the lords of L.A. visit the lord of Beverly Hills. They have a weapon to give Illyria's appointed champion in the battle against Angel that they hope will give them an advantage--a Hagun Shaft. There are only eight in existence, and each of the lords of L.A. now has one. They were created by and for an immortal out of the primordial fire so he could end his own existence should the world become tiresome. A Hagun Shafter turns an immortal's insides out.

One of Spike's lady companions, Spider, suggests to Spike that he kill Angel. This will win him the fear and respect of the demon lords, and make their lives easier in hell. She also hints that he could use Illyria's power towards some even more ambitious end, but Spike rejects both these suggestions. He will neither kill Angel nor use Illyria.

The Furies take Angel and Wesley to Silver Lake, where, we learn, Lorne is the reigning lord. In this fiefdom, life is protected, and therefore, pretty good. Lorne went through a dark period after Fred's death. This was only intensified when Angel asked him to kill Lindsey McDonald. Lorne decided he couldn't follow Angel any longer, and turned his back on him. But since then, Lorne found a new life and hope in his little corner of hell, protecting people. So he is willing to let Angel back into his life again.

Lorne tells Angel that he has been approached by the other lords about sending a champion to fight Angel, and warns him about the Hagun Shaft. Officially, Lorne cannot give the appearance of taking Angel's side in the fight. But he has managed to track down the Groosalug (who appeared briefly and cryptically in issue #3 with Illyria) to help Angel.

Lorne is more nervous with having Wesley, the liaison of the Senior Partners, in his little hamlet, then he is having Angel there. But Wesley tells Lorne it isn't Wolfram and Hart he should be afraid of. There are even greater evils working in this hellish place that the Partners cannot control.

The scene cuts to Gunn and a few of his men, standing outside Wolfram and Hart. They have just been inside the building, and come out with nothing more than a photograph of happier times--Angel, Fred, Cordelia, Gunn, and Wesley holding baby Connor. But they left something behind--a bomb. The building explodes.

Back in Silver Lake, Wesley fades away before Lorne's eyes.

Angel: After the Fall, issue #5

The issue opens with Wesley standing in a white space being interrogated by a disembodied voice. Wesley tries to convince his interrogator that everything is under control. They show him the bombed-out Wolfram and Hart building, and blame him for the encouragement he has given Angel that lead him to pick a fight with the demon lords of L.A.

Angel's healing magicks were destroyed along with the Wolfram and Hart building. Only the glamour that makes him appear to be a vampire remains. Its talismanic source is hidden inside Angel.

Over in Beverly Hills, we learn that Spike's lady companions have decided to go through with their plan to kill the lords of L.A. and assume control. They expect Spike to kill Angel; Spike would rather make a strategic retreat. Illyria tells him he must carry out the ladies' plan.

In Santa Monica, Connor, Nina, and Gwen are gearing up for the fallout of Angel's battle. They don't expect it to be good for the humans of HelL.A. Suddenly, someone appears behind them.

The people and demons of the city gather downtown to watch the battle. They are warned to stay out of the way of what the lords expect to be Angel's slaughter. One of the lords grabs a man off the street to demonstrate what will happen to anyone if they interfere, but at that moment, Angel makes his entrance and saves the hapless victim. Angered, the lord tells everyone present that Angel is responsible for them being in hell in the first place. Angel admits that this is true.

Among the people hearing his confession is Gunn. Angel also makes known that if he wins, the people will be free of their demon overlords. Angel is attacked by one of the champions. He starts fighting.

Wesley reappears in Silver Lake and tells Lorne's spy-minion to get word out to his friends--they must come together again if there is any hope for Angel. The Furies tell Wesley that Lorne is already on the case--Lorne decided to gather all of Angel's allies together to help him. One by one, he went to each of them, and now Connor, Gwen, Nina, Spike, and the Groosalug have all joined the fight. The other lords see Lorne helping Angel as well. The Groosalug frees Angel's dragon to join in the fight.

Even Illyria appears, although whose side she's on is anyone's guess, since she seems only to fight for the sake of fighting. She and Spike are stopped short by the sight of Wesley, however, whom they both thought was dead. Which he is, of course. The sight of Wesley turns Illyria into Fred.

The only one of Angel's allies not joining in is Gunn, but he seems to know something about how the fight is going to go.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2010 12:32 am (UTC)
I am really enjoying your write-up. And personally, I do coonsdier this to be canon (although not the issues that came after "After the Fall". Not only do they not have Joss' guidance, but they seem incredibly ooc.
Jan. 20th, 2010 01:49 am (UTC)
Already planned to skip those. Some stuff in After the Fall seems OOC to me, but I'm going with it for now.

Thanks for reading! I will post on the "First Night" issues probably next weekend.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )