In Review: Angel: Season 11 #11

A fun story is undone by sketchy visuals and overly dark colors. What happened?

The covers: Two covers to seek out if one is a true collector. The Regular cover is by Scott Fischer and it is yet another spectacular frontpiece by him. Standing atop several bodies that seem to making a human column, Illyria is holding up a massive magic blue and violet bubble that contains an upside down city. Just behind the mass of characters is a building with an upside down double-decker bus on it. The Old One resembles Atlas bearing the weight of this particular world on her shoulders. Hauntingly bizarre. The Variant cover is by Geraldo Borges with Michelle Madsen on colors. This features a street in modern day Ireland quickly emptying of people, while Angel and Fred stand their ground, looking up at the silhouette of a tall creature with an enormous maw. The physical version is much darker than the digital cover, which is far superior. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Variant A-

The story: Angel wakes up after sleeping with Illyria. Turning to his left he’s surprised to see Fred. They’re both finding the situation awkward, but Fred stops him by saying, “…Not everything is about you, you know. If you think you’re felling confused and uncertain, how do you think I feel? At least Angelus and Liam are usually just memories for you. Try having them rent new space in your head, or borrow it completely!” She shuts down further conversation saying they should focus on saving the world first. This causes Illyria to take over Fred, agreeing with her. She opens a portal to take them back to Ireland’s present day and they jump through. The pair are successful, but where they arrive the streets are crowded with some surprising vehicles that they don’t remember being present when they originally left. Writer Corinna Bechko is doing an excellent job in creating plenty of drama between Angel and Fred/Illyria, which is only sparsely addressed because they have to make sure the world is okay. Naturally, it’s not. Page 11 foreshadows something is definitely not right, with the reveal on 12 showing what’s horrible wrong. Page 18 features the return of some fearsome creatures that have caused the characters troubles in previous issues and their reappearance is terrifying. Just when the reader thinks things can’t get worse, they do. The salvation or doom of the characters is left hanging until next month. Drama and action done well. Overall grade: A 

The art: The first page is a nice introduction to Angel if one doesn’t remember how last issue ended. I like that artist Geraldo Borges has him slowly open his eyes and then blow them open in the third panel when the remembers. His bug-eyed turn to the left is outstanding. Fred’s reveal and reaction to what he’s done has perfect emotions; she should be angry and she looks it! The magic that Illyria uses to conjure the portal looks great. Back on the streets of Ireland all seems as it should until several vehicles speed by. The setting of the modern world is very sketchy; lines don’t connect in the foreground, while buildings in the distance become blobby. This was very disappointing. This is very noticeable in the large panel on Page 12. Even the vehicle is roughly constructed. Look at the ground in this illustration; it, too, is sketchy. The character work is okay, but Borges’s quality has really dropped. The remainder of the issue seems rushed, with these sketchy settings and the characters sometimes getting overly shaded, such as Angel in vampire form and Fred’s close up on 17. Thankfully the army of creatures that appear on 18 look good, solidifying them as threats. I’m hoping that Borges is saving himself up to turn in spectacular visuals for the finale, because this issue did not come close. Overall grade: C

The colors: I have given praise to Michelle Madsen’s work on several other books, and I know her to be a talented colorist. However, this book is incredibly dark and there seems to be no reason to have it be so dim. The opening five pages are set in Ireland’s distant past, so it can be dark, but it’s so dark that the art is lost in the colors. When Illyria creates a portal it’s beautiful in blues, but there’s no color that’s reflected on the characters, who remain in the dark. The streets of modern day Ireland are just as dark, with odd highlights; take a look at Illyria at the bottom of 7 — What’s up with her forehead compared to her face? This is just odd coloring. When Fred returns to the story on Page 11 she’s colored as bright as day, while Angel is in the dark. There’s no logic to this. Sometimes a panel without backgrounds gets some incredibly bright yellows to make things pop, but it too is erratic. I’ve never seen Madsen do work like this and I’m shocked and disappointed. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt are responsible for creating the story’s title, dialogue, sounds, yells, and the tease for the final issue. This pair’s work continues to excel with dialogue and yells, while their sounds are wonderful insertions on several pages, with SLISH, HZZ, and SCHKK being my favorites. Overall grade: A

The final line: A fun story is undone by sketchy visuals and overly dark colors. I can only shake my head and wonder what happened with this issue. This series — this team — has done strong work in the past. What happened here? This is the penultimate issue, so my hopes are high that next issue will end with strong visuals. Overall grade: B

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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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