Sunday, December 23, 2007

My review of Angel's 6x02: "After The Fall Part 2"

Written by Brian Lynch
Artwork by Franco Urru

Female Bodyguard: “Nobody touches Spike, Lord of Beverley Hills and our saviour squared.”
Angel: “Saviour squared. Yep, now it’s officially hell.”

Issue 1 to this arc started well enough but I have to admit that this issue didn’t overcome me with much excitement as Angel tells Wesley about killing Burges’ son and refuses his friends’ request to help him. I guess Angel wasn’t joking when he admitted to not being sure of Wesley – now he’s showing it.

Wesley doesn’t necessarily react to having offered to help rejected but you can tell by the look on his face that he isn’t a happy bunny over it either. I like that Angel does feel bad for how he treats Wesley but under the circumstances, he might have a good reason to be abrasive.

Not only is he not certain as what Wesley’s motives are at the moment but because he slaughtered the Burges’ irritating kid, he realises that he’s also painted a target on Connor as a result. Still there’s minor fun in Angel knocking down demons as he makes his way to his son’s hideout and is greeted by Nina.

Now I like Nina as a character but I wasn’t really keen on listening to her erratic responses when Angel was asking her a simple question. I get that being in hell is fucking up her mental state and perhaps there’s a juicy plot in there for future issues to cover but right now I don’t care. Angel’s worried about the only person left in his life and he’s got good reason too.

Fortunately Connor’s amazing skills at hacking and slashing are back to their Season Four best as Angel sees his boy slaughtering demons without breaking a sweat. Yeah, it seems another demon wants to be Lord of Westwood and Connor is ending his reign before it begins.

What’s even better is that Connor’s reaction to seeing his father is of pure delight. Okay so he might be a tiny bit annoyed that Angel hasn’t been in touch recently but overall he’s trying to impress Angel with his slaying. Angel makes a note of that while admitting that he’s also keen to impress Connor. It’s nice that there is at least one really sweet moment in an arc so inherently bleak. Heck, Connor even takes it well when he finds out that he might be a target for Burges.

Of course the father and son reunion does get interrupted by Gwen. She’s zapping demons left, right and centre but she’s also found something pretty gnarly and when you’re stuck in hell, that’s something of an achievement.

Given the location they happen to be in, I’m gonna guess it’s the remains of KR’PH and his pals. The fact that Gwen then muses about their being a new player in town only proves that point when the next thing we see is Gunn and some kind of spider web. I forgot that he stole company.
The fish from last issue is Betta George and he’s not thrilled with being kidnapped by a vampire. Funny thing is his willingness to listen to Gunn in spite of not knowing whether or not his captor is worthy of being trusted. Gunn might make an excellent quip about a rotting corpse but true to form he’s not amused with his own transformation.

He gets pretty animated when George calls him a vampire and tells the telepathic fish about the many times he’s slain vampires. More importantly is his bitterness towards Angel. Gunn regrets ever trusting his former boss and even holds him responsible for his current state. Not entirely sure I would agree with that. Like everyone else, Gunn knew exactly what he was getting into when he signed up with Wolfram And Hart but at the same, there’s no way he deserved this cruel fate.

Gunn’s attempts to try and differentiate himself from other vampires comes across as denial. He’s disgusted by what he has become but at the same time, he’s eating humans to survive and even aggressively assaults George for little reason. The scorn by his team mates also suggests he might have a mutiny on his hands too.

Also we see him place the orb he stole from KR’PH placed in a room of what looks like demon remains of sorts. Gunn plotting revenge on Angel is just another sore point with this issue. Having the Eye Of Ramras is also bad seeing as it amplifies power.

Any chance that Gunn might be using that to get his soul back, boost his physical strength or on the rare off chance becoming human again? Where a Chameleon Arch when you need one? I think I’ve gone from Gunn being a vampire is unfair to Gunn being a vampire flat out sucks.

Another sore point about this issue is that Angel lies to Connor when the lad asks if he knows who’s responsible for all the carnage? Angel obviously knows its Gunn and probably feels guilty about what happened to his mate but Angel really can’t afford to keep Connor in the dark. Connor is the only real ally along with Nina and Gwen that Angel has right now. Keeping secrets will put them in harm’s way.

Gwen isn’t really as useful in the part of the issue as Angel and Connor mainly talk among themselves and she’s kind of left out. Gwen folding her arms and sulking is a good indicator that she doesn’t like being kept out of the loop. I wonder how she’ll feel when she discovers the new player in town is the same dude who took her virginity as well.

Still Angel chooses to leave both Connor and Gwen out of things because apparently dealing with things by him is the better option. In the least savage looking part of this hell on earth, a mansion and a gaggle of demonic babes reveal that Spike is living the life of luxury.

I’d love to say that I was so looking forward to Spike’s return but seeing as I found him to be mostly a hindrance in Season Five, I really wasn’t that fussed on seeing him. Spike doing his best Hugh Hefner stance and flashing his chest while women tend to him in hardly anything is a stark contrast to everything else. I supposed someone should be smelling the roses so to speak. Who better than Spike in terms of rubbing it into Angel?

Spike lazes about spewing mostly bullshit on how he has defeated most of the baddies since moving to LA and suffice to say, his ladies are lapping it up like there’s no tomorrow. There’s also going to be someone who’ll be impressed with Spike but honestly I’m finding somewhat irritating in this issue.

Angel’s also not particularly pleased with his enemy putting his own spin on things and the fact that Spike has bodyguards willing to inflict damage on Angel just reeked of annoyance. There’s a nice moment where one of Spike’s ladies shows an interest in Angel and anything that annoys Spike has to be a good thing.

Sadly while Angel might get a delightful punch it’s the presence of Illyria and her sudden devotion to Blondie Bear that see Angel on the verge of an ass kicking. Great, Spike’s appearance was annoying enough and now that Illyria has become his gushing sycophant I’m less than thrilled with seeing her again.

Also in “After The Fall Part 2”

Cover issue I got was Spike and his hoards of babes. There are two versions of the other two covers out there.

Wesley: “Do you want me to come with you?”
Angel: “To be honest, Wes … I really don’t.”
Wesley: “Right, then. I’ll stay here and haunt the fort.”

Okay can Franco Urru please stop drawing both Nina and Gwen like porn starlets? It’s distracting and not in a good way.

Angel: “Connor needs to watch his back. So Nina how have you -”
Nina: “I eat bloody meat now.”
Angel: “Oh good.”

Angel (re Connor): “After all I put him though. I mean this is literally the second time I punched his ticket to hell. Not many fathers can say that.”

Stupid question but was Angel hitting on Nina during their little scene together? I don’t think he wanted to go on a killing spree with her.

Angel: “I killed the son of a lord.”
Connor: “Good for you, seriously. Wow. Just that paints a big ass target on my head, doesn’t it?”
Angel: “Yeah. Sorry about that.”

Gwen (to Angel/Connor): “Yo. ‘Anything you can do, I can do better’ going well? Awesome. You’re going to want to come with me.”

What’s the symbol drawn around George’s bed supposed to represent?

Gunn: “Comfortable.”
Betta George: “Gotta admit, not really. The accommodation in this place suck and it smells like rotting corpse.”
Gunn: “That’s probably because of the rotting corpse.”

Gunn (to Betta George, re Angel): “See someone fancies himself a white hat because he’s got a soul. Thinks he gets in touch with the man he was, makes him good. Funny thing, though. Maybe the man he was wasn’t all that good to begin with.”

One of the doors in Gunn’s place has a rotting octopus like creature strung up. It looks like it’s protecting that room.

Gunn (to Betta George): “It’s not about the soul. I’m living proof of that.”
Vampire: “Formerly living proof.”

Gwen: “It’s a vampire or many vampires.”
Angel: “How can you be sure?”
Gwen: “A few ladies told me. Not so much with words but with their necks and horrified dead expressions.”

There’s some strange marking on the wall that doesn’t seem consistent with the ones on the floor of Betta George’s bed.

Angel (re dragon): “Just go. He’ll find me. He’s a little jumpy around anyone who isn’t me so call him by his name to let him know you’re on the up and up.”
Connor: “What’s his name?”

Connor: “That’s what you went with? I’m serious Angel. Weirder and weirder.”

The dragon’s name is Dudden as far as I can make out. That’s not the weirdest of names to call a dragon.

Spike: “In the end, the forces of darkness didn’t stand a chance against Spike. All bloody hail.”
Female Demons: “Bloody hail.”

Spike: “Oh for goodness sake. Eyes back in your head, Spider.”
Spider (re Angel): “He reeks of magic.”
Spike: “And I don’t?”

That female bodyguard looked similar to a Bond villain.

Spike (to Angel): “You’re leaving in two ways. One in a teeny, tiny little urn. Two – you know what? I can only think of the one.”

Illyria (to Angel, re Spike): “Your presence is irritating my pet. Perhaps you dismemberment will soothe him.”

There’s an interview with Gary Russell previewing the Doctor Who comics that IDW have coming up in January with this issue as well.

Meh, I was under whelmed. “After The Fall Part 2” hyped up both Spike and Illyria’s return and both of them left me feeling cold. Thank God for Gunn’s struggle as a vampire and Angel/Connor stuff, otherwise this would’ve been a total chore to read.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

My Review Of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x09: "No Future For You Part 4"

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Faith (to herself, remembering The Mayor): “Everybody thinks he was like, exploiting me or whatever, but that’s not how it felt. So I totally get how chicks can get mixed up in the wrong crap. Even today, it’s still hard to look back at my time with that guy and feel anything but loved.”

Clearly someone loves “Graduation Day Part 1” a lot because this issue opens up with the evil but loving Faith/Mayor Wilkins team. It’s nicely stated that Richard saw Faith as the daughter he never had and despite her knowing he was a corrupt she still can’t bring herself to hate him.

I know the girl’s got Daddy issues that would make a writer like Brian K. Vaughan proud (due to the fact he scripts for Lost) but his grasp on Faith’s never ending yearning to be loved and accepted is really effective. It’s also the very thing that both she and Gigi have in common despite their friendship now being over.

Gigi doesn’t take being lied to easily and with an asshole like Roden egging her on, she’s only too happy to put her skills with an axe to good use. Funny thing is that Gigi does continue the romanticised/gay overtone with her and Faith by mentioning bathtub. Faith on the other hand tells her to get over it. Perhaps not the smartest to say to an axe wielding slayer but I already know who I want to win this fight.

Unfortunately for the time being it’s Gigi making the right moves even if she still can’t actually behead Faith with that axe of her. Faith does try to explain that she never lied about the stuff that mattered and you can tell she’s being sincere with that claim of her. Gigi responds by smacking her in the face with bottom of the axe.

Also realising that Faith is far from British, Gigi then enquires about her real origins. Faith didn’t get a chance to explain before Gigi comes to the conclusion she’s American but the coolest is seeing Faith kick Gigi from the balcony into the conservatory with just one swift kick. On screen that would’ve just looked amazing. In fact this is the kind of fight scenes that worked perfectly on the televised series.

The best thing about Faith here is that she decides to take advantage of the situation by simply explaining she’s from Boston. Gigi still doesn’t give a flying fuck and makes with the axe attack once again. I know that Gigi is going to lose this battle and her snobbery towards Faith’s lowly stature is quite an annoying thing to listen to. I get it Gigi you’re rich. That doesn’t mean Faith is beneath you. After all you did seem to have the hots for her before Buffy spoiled the party.

Faith still tries to reason with Gigi even though you know the girl ain’t for turning. Faith betrayed her and Gigi is determined to end her life as a result. More interesting is that Faith then tries to warn Gigi about Roden. Now only an idiot would think he has genuine affection for the spoiled slayer so Gigi is then pretty stupid when she all too quickly jumps to the guy’s defence.

The issue of Faith not having many friends has been looked at from time to time. We know that some of that has to do with her turning people who care about her away and other times, her inability to have a genuine connection with another person, but isn’t Gigi one to talk on the matter?

She told Faith last issue that her parents kept her from interacting with people her own age due to home schooling and it’s not like she gets on with her own rich crowd either. Part of the reason why Gigi doesn’t have pals is down to the fact she’s an intolerable bitch when push comes to shove.

It’s also amazing for a girl who also in the previous issue bragged about being able to manipulate men she isn’t able to see that Roden is using her. If he was genuinely worried then surely he would be helping Gigi in taking out Faith and not just watching instead? Well that’s what you think.

Also when it comes to thinking, I’m glad Giles hasn’t given up on trying to get to Faith even if with the help of Trafalgar he’s still failing to get past the force field protecting Gigi’s estate. Trafalgar is a fun enough character but man doesn’t he give up just a little bit too quickly as well?

As if Giles didn’t have that for a hindrance, he then has to deal with Buffy’s childish behaviour when she berates him for working with Faith. Okay Buffy has every right in the world to be mad at Giles for not telling her about Gigi and Roden. On that score Giles should’ve kept her informed but yelling at him because he’s working with Faith makes her sound like a spoiled bitch to put it mildly.

I said it in my last and I will say it, if this situation had involved either Angel or Spike, Buffy would only happily oblige to give them the benefit of the doubt but because it’s Faith she has to go off on one. Maybe Giles should’ve apologised for not keeping her in the loop but Buffy should know by now that he’s always got her back.

Perhaps yelling at Buffy for not taking Faith with her and effectively telling her to mind her own business wasn’t his best move but Buffy’s hatred for Faith has well and truly worn thin. If she can forgive both Spike and Angel for the shit they’ve put her through then she needs to start forgiving Faith as well.

Willow is quick to enquire about the friction between Buffy and Giles and Buffy at least has the practical sense to tell Willow to help Giles but she doesn’t exactly mask her hurt in regards to feeling left out. Xander is his level headed best by trying to get Buffy to figure that maybe Giles needs the alone time but Buffy seems too pissed off to be convinced of that.

Meanwhile Faith and Gigi are still beating the ever holy shit out of one another and Gigi even finds the time to complain about Faith ruining her mum’s Rose bush. Yeah Gigi, I’m sure Faith really cares about a lame Rose bush when you’re trying to kill her and not listening to a word of sense.

Faith doesn’t give up on slamming Roden’s name and I for one am only glad of it. Still Gigi is stupid and refuses to believe that Roden doesn’t care for her and nearly kills Faith with some garden shears. Luckily Gigi is a crap shot and Faith manages to catch them instead of getting slaughtered by them.

The same can’t be said for Gigi who finally meets her death but not before she spouts more self-entitled nonsense about being a worthy slayer. Oh Gigi you dumb bitch, you’re only one out of nearly 2000 slayers world wide and you’re probably not even the most strongest, smartest or even corrupt of them either.

Faith then does everyone a massive favour and kicks Gigi straight into the axe but sadly, Faith had only intended to knock the girl out and not do her in. Faith’s reaction is out of disgust and sadness and even Gigi before snuffing coolly recognises the outcome of her fate. I almost a “Last Of The Time Lords” The Doctor/The Master type of scene except what I see here is kind of better.

Roden isn’t one to miss an opportunity and instead of healing Gigi, he’s quick to offer to help Faith rid the world of Buffy and to point out that his former charge was a means to an end. Showing Faith the book with the Twilight inspires her to whack him across the face with. Clearly the girl isn’t for conversion.

However one thing that is noteworthy is how rather sexist Roden seems to be. He berates Faith for a twenty something slayer who is still alive and even has a go at Giles about his determination to wipe out every slayer in existence. Look we all know what happens to sexist creeps on this show. If you’re Warren you get flayed by Willow and if you’re Caleb you get sliced in half by Buffy. So what cool comeuppance can be waiting for Roden?

With Giles in the mix and Faith released from her stone prison, I can tell you one thing – garden shears won’t end Roden. Giles does make a good effort with them but Roden is impervious to being stabbed in the back. Perhaps in a literal sense it’s something that has happened to him on a regular basis.

However Giles using one of Roden’s mystical fields by putting it inside the devious warlock does the trick as Roden’s head literally explodes. There are times when I can forget Giles’ dark side. This act of ingenuity more than serves as a great reminder. It’s kind of sad that both Gigi and Roden have been killed because they’ve been amazing villains but hats off to the superb ending both of them had. I also dig the fact that Faith puts her hand on Giles’ shoulder and tells him they should leave.

There’s the thing. In the last two issues I was disappointed with the lack of Giles and Faith interacting with each other after the wonderful moments they had at the start of this arc. Their last scene here more than makes up for it. Faith has fulfilled her obligation and Giles keeps his end of the bargain by giving her a passport, cash and a plane ticket only for Faith to have a turn around.

She might not relish bloodshed with the same lust when we met her back in “Faith, Hope And Trick” but seeing Gigi die has made her realise that there will be other bad slayers out there. Instead of wanting to kill them, Faith comes up with the idea of trying to rehabilitate before they go over the deep end.

What’s even better is that not only does Giles fully support the idea he also wants a piece of the action and suggests a partnership with Faith to which she agrees. Both of them note that Buffy might not be thrilled but the hell with Buffy; this is one of the best plot developments going. I love that Giles is putting himself in a mentoring position with Faith. The more positive influences that girl has around her the better, right?

Last but not least if this issue wasn’t amazing enough, we’ve finally got a bigger idea of Twilight. Instead of it being an organisation, it’s actually a person. Better than that it’s the same one who was spying on Buffy during the castle raid in the first issue. Even better than is his explanation to Lieutenant Molter is that he was using Gigi and Roden as pawns and is delighting in the friction between Buffy and Giles. This guy wants to end magic and it looks like he could possibly succeed.

Also in “No Future For You Part 4”

Covers for this issue included a naked Faith burning her dress (I got that one) and Steed/Peel drawing of Faith and Giles.

Genevieve: “You’re not even English are you? Where is that horrid accent from anyway? New York?”
Faith: “Ouch. That hurts. For the record I’m a Boston girl. You know like the tea party.”

Those statues in the conservatory looked like they were of Greek women. Gigi’s mum certainly has extravagant tastes.

Genevieve: “I should have listened to Roden.”
Faith: “Who, Lucky Charms? If you want someone to be pissed at, try him. Trust me, Dude is gonna be the death of you.”
Genevieve: “He may push me but Roden’s also my best mate. Something I doubt you’ve ever had.”

Giles: “You can’t give up Trafalgar.”
Trafalgar: “Tell that to my last hundred wives. I’m sorry but it’s gonna take arts darker than mine to get you to the other side.”

Why did Buffy have that phone exchange with all of the slayers around there? Was she trying to shame Giles in a way?

Willow: “Is … is everything okay, Buffy?”
Buffy: “Do what you can for him.”
Xander: “Er, maybe the boss just needs some alone time.”
Buffy: “What other kind is there?”

Genevieve (re Roden): “He knows I can handle myself. He trusts me. He adores me.”
Faith: “Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. But either way, part of you knows something ain’t right cause you’ve never deserved to be loved by anyone.”

There’s a promo in this issue for cover artist Jo Chen’s upcoming The Other Side. Premise wise it sounds pretty interesting.

Faith (to Genevieve): “If you’re so sick of the bad dreams, then wake the fuck up.”

Faith: “I never meant -”
Genevieve: “Yeah but it’s like the song goes.”

I wonder if Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word is the song Gigi is alluding to. I’m interested in finding out.

Faith (taking the book): “Thanks but I ain’t much of a reader.”
Roden: “Keep it anyway, luv. I already know how it ends.”

Roden: “You desperate old git. Did you honestly just try to use one of my own containment spells against me? I can break out of any mystic field ever enchanted.”
Giles: “I know. That’s why I put one in you. Burst.”

This issue was at least twenty four pages long. Apparently the next issue “Anywhere But Here” will be twenty five pages.

Giles: “I’m afraid I wouldn’t know. Buffy and I aren’t on speaking terms at the moment.”
Faith: “Then I guess we’re on our own, huh?”
Giles: “It would appear so.”

Molter: “How can you see a victory when Buffy’s narrow ass lives to fight another day?”
Twilight: “Let her have her day, Lieutenant. Night falls soon enough.”

No Dawn in this issue, which isn’t too bad as she factors in a big role in the next issue.

This arc started off so well and “No Future For You Part 4” ensured that it ended so brilliantly. In fact this entire arc could rival some of the best episodes in sci-fi and fantasy television and definitely even certain Buffy episodes. That being said, I bet not have to wait a long time to see Faith and Giles and I’m so psyched about this Twilight arc now more than ever.

Rating: 10 out of 10.