In Review: Angel: Season 11 #12

A disappointing conclusion with detrimental visuals.

The covers: A final pair of covers for this final issue of this series. The Regular cover is by Scott Fischer and it’s once again outstanding. In a gigantic skull cup, Fred holds some of the demonic plant’s tendrils that were attacking in the last issue so that tank top wearing Angel may cleave them with the axe he’s swinging. Around the pair other spiky and toothy vines seek to do them harm. The characters look photorealistic and the peril this pair is in is great. The coloring on this is also superb with the violets in the background making the imagery in the foreground pop. Fischer consistently made this series’s covers beautiful. The Variant cover by Stephanie Hans has Angel in the bottom center of the illustration with black tendrils coming off him and wafting upwards. Behind him and on the left is Illyria, who looks to be pondering something. Opposite her is Fred, who is looking downward as if also in deep thought. Looking at both women’s eyes, one could argue that both are the goddess, however the character on the right has brown hair, so she must be Fred. If this is true, why are Fred’s eyes so black? This frontpiece is a good tease of what’s to be found within. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Variant A

The story: Picking up from last issue, writer Corinna Bechko has Fred in peril as one of the monstrous plant’s vines has grabbed her and is hoisting her upside down. Before Angel can swing an axe to save her, another fanged vine lunges at him. He barely grabs the appendage in time. Meanwhile, the streets are in chaos as vines and the zombie insects are exacting a toll on the citizens. Angel is able to swing his weapon to cleave the vine, causing Fred to begin a fatal fall, face first, to the pavement. Another vine swoops in and grabs her by her suspenders which snap. This gives Angel enough time to catch her. One of the plant’s enormous mouths swallows the suspenders and begins to turn gray. The creature then surprisingly implodes, leaving a pile of ash. This reaction spurs the characters to realize there is a way to defeat the monsters and they do so, but not before explaining it thoroughly. Bechko’s solution is good, putting some good emotional pressure on Angel to end their troubles with a personal sacrifice. The story needs a sacrifice that ties into the previous issues and Bechko nails it perfectly. It’s after the creatures are overcome that things get a little murky. Angel has a conversation first with Illyria and then with Fred. What’s said makes sense, though boils down to a “What have you learned, Dorothy?” conclusion. Both Fred and Angel have learned something from the events of this series, but it’s wrapped up too quickly. This is in the spirit of the television series, which had to conclude things in less than hour; I expected more from Fred in the end. Angel winds up emotionally how fans would expect, but Fred’s response let me down. Naturally not too much change can happen to these characters if they are to appear in future stories, however some character growth from Fred would have been appreciated. After all, she was really angry last issue and that ire has evaporated. Overall grade: B+

The art: Geraldo Borges is not serving this finale well. The characters do resemble the actors who played them on television, though they’re very sketchy. That summarizes much of the visuals: sketchy. Look at the bottom panel on the first page: the vines, the debris, the people, the citizens are rough. Lines don’t connect on objects or characters. The first panel on Page 2 has Fred with a vertical slit for a nose and an uncompleted mouth. She looks better in the close-up at the bottom of the page, but why is Angel’s face blacked out? The third panel on 3 has the debris in the foreground a rough assemblage of lines, while the city in the background gets incredible loose going from left to right, with the city ultimately disappearing in the panel. The top of 7 returns to blacked out faces. Shouldn’t the reader see the emotional intensity on the characters’ faces in this moment? I feel cheated. A turn of the page shows some jagged work done on Angel on 9. He looks great on the final panel opposite of him on 8. This heavily jagged Angel returns on 11. This visual cheat is cheating the reader of the emotional impact on the character. The double-paged splash on 12 and 13 is too empty for this climatic moment. More time should have put into these pages to give it the powerful ending it deserved. When the characters have their talk as they walk, Fred looks the best, with Angel remotely resembling David Boreanaz. The backgrounds on these pages continue to be loosely constructed, with the thrid panel on 20 terrible; plus the characters are just not good. The visuals for this concluding chapter were extremely disappointing. Overall grade: D+

The colors: Michelle Madsen does what she can to punch up panels with her colors, such as the beautiful bright colors in action sequences, like the second and third panels on the first page. However, there is so much of this book that contains grays or faded colors, I thought that much of this book was occurring at night. It’s only when the sky is shown do blues appear and confirm this tale is supposed to be happening during the day. Pages 12 and 13 are a dreary experience with the monotone browns. That said, what could Madsen truly do with the pages she was given? Illyria’s fleeting appearances do provide some opportunities to punch up the pages with her beautiful eerie eyes and her gorgeous hair and clothing. The coloring isn’t great, but Maden’s choices were extremely limited. Overall grade: C-

The letters: One place I can’t complain is the lettering of this book by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. Yells, the story’s title, sounds, dialogue, screams, and the book’s final two words comprise their duties on this issue. The sounds are the strongest contributions to this installment, with SLISH, HUSSSSSSS, and HZZ being my favorites. The final six pages have quite a bit of dialogue and this pair places it perfectly without stepping on the art or taking away from the story’s tone. Overall grade: A  

The final line: A disappointing conclusion that could have gone for another issue to properly wrap up the story for the characters, while the art is extremely rough. Really, really rough. This series started strong and ended on a low note. The visuals are such a detriment to this finale. Overall grade: C

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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