In Review: Angel: Season 11 #10

The hero considers changing the timeline, while another changes their relationship.

The covers: Another pair to pick up if you’re the ultimate fan and have to have both. The Regular cover is, again, another outstanding cover by Scott Fischer. Angel is wearing a red tank top and he’s behind the face of a clock with Roman numerals. The hands of the clock have the two faces of Angel upon them: the minute hand is his vampire face, while the hour hand has his human visage. The ends of both hands have pierced the character’s own hands, which he holds up in supplication as blood streams from his wounds. The clock is upside down, with the numbers eleven to one white and the others crimson. In the background is the profile of Fred who looks heartbroken. Every month Fischer packs an incredible amount of imagery into his covers that have the reader really looking at each element to decipher their meaning. This is incredible. The Variant cover is by Geraldo Borges and Michelle Madsen and is a key, if not the key, moment in Angel’s past. He’s lurking around the corner from Darla and Liam, with the former just transformed into vampire face to change the Irishman into one of the undead. Naturally, Angel looks a little intense at being so near the moment that would change his life. Nice look of intensity on the protagonist’s face, but he’s a little too shaded. The colors also blend into each too much, making the entire image too dark. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Variant C+

The story: Talk about a painful beginning! Angel is speaking with an unseen character who’s berating him for his wayward deeds. This off panel character continues to say, “You always act the faithful son when you need something. Well, no more. I’m on to your games…You’re a disgrace to your family. That’s what you are.” Corinna Bechko is putting Angel through the worst possible hell as his father lays into him. The protagonist, realizing he can’t say anything to please the man turns to leave until a voice cries out for him. It’s his sister Kathy. Overjoyed to see his sister, Angel speaks with her, but she’s quickly pulled back by their father. “I’ll not have you corrupting her, Liam. She’s a good child. The Lord knows I deserve to have one turn out as I intended.” You know a writer has a got a strong handle on the characters when they know what buttons to push. The pair’s exit moves into a flashback when Angel was much younger and his relationship was much better with his father. My guts were hammered and it’s only been four pages! A time travelling friend arrives to complicate things further for Angel as he contemplates an action that could change the timeline. It’s an issue that all good stories of this genre must address: should the past be changed to avoid future woes? If so, what would the new timeline be? After this conversation, Angel makes a choice, but someone intercedes with horrific results. The fallout is painful, though expected. What’s not expected are the final two pages — WOW! That’s the shocker of the issue! Talk about going in a new direction? Bechko is snapping me around emotionally like a rubber band and my heart can’t take any more. However, I’m eagerly awaiting the next issue to see what happens next! Overall grade: A

The art: Geraldo Borges begins this issue with four panels showing Angel’s reaction to his father’s blistering comments: horizontal, equal sized panels showing only the character’s face. This is an excellent way to draw the reader into the story, with the lead character’s emotional distress. The first panel that appears on the next page shows Angel looking at his father, with them physically distant as well as emotionally. When he turns to see his sister, Borges has all of the anger melt from Angel and the reader joins this character in the joy he has at seeing Kathy. Borges nicely has the beautiful, youthful Kathy in the third panel countered by the hardened, ancient face of father in the fifth panel, which is the panel under the third. A nice way to show contrasting characters. The top of Page 4 is beautiful and sad, and the flashback that follows it is wonderful for its tranquility and warmth. The chase that begins on 11 is outstanding. There are only a few sparse words of dialogue, allowing Borges to create considerable tension with his visuals. Having Angel transform into vampire mode certainly ups the threat of what’s to occur. This chase concludes with a great reveal on 14 and an angry conversation. The scene shown at the top of 19 is very smart for the way the horror is shown without being graphic; Borges rightly relies on the text to put that graphic punch into this fairly clean image. The last page of the book is what will set the Internet on fire. Shocking, loving, surprising, inevitable — all these words describe the illustrations. Borges is bringing the story to life. Overall grade: A

The colors: With exception to flashbacks, this book is set in the middle of the night in a village that relies on candlelight. Michelle Madsen smartly uses colors to create the darkness without making the line art obscured. Colors for clothing suggest characters’ personalities: Angel in his trademark darks, dad in surly pea green, Kathy in warm pink, Fred in modern mustard, and Illyria in her supernatural violets. The flashbacks have got some exceptionally bright colors, especially yellows, to make them symbolic of happier times, but they’ve been slightly dulled to age them for the reader. The background colors on Angel as he’s after his prey are fantastic in a mottled orange that match his supernatural eyes. Madsen is always delivering her A game to anything she works on. Overall grade: A

The letters: Richards Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt create dialogue, the story’s title, yells, sounds, a vampiric growl, and the tease for next issue. I like that when someone yells in this book it’s not a tradition comic book bellow, but is just slightly larger than the dialogue, italicized, and bolded. This makes these yells more realistic than a superhero screaming about the injustice of the world. The sounds are few but good, with QUASH being my favorite. It’s also neat to see the vampiric font in this issue, which visual matches the creature’s visuals. These men also do nothing less than stellar work. Overall grade: A  

The final line: The hero considers changing the timeline, while another changes their relationship. Solid drama, terrific characters, good visuals, and a stunning conclusion in this installment. The concept of changing time is discussed well, but it’s the ending that will leave fans screaming. Overall grade: A

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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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