In Review: Angel: Season 11 #3

Lots of action and Illyria issues in this outing.

The covers: A gigantic toothy mouth has opened and leaping into it, while arrows are being shot at him, is Angel. The gigantic maw he’s going into has a tongue that’s beginning to wrap around his legs. In each hand he wields two nasty looking blades that resemble Bali Keris daggers. The look on Angel’s face is one of indifference, as if he doesn’t care what happens during the battle. Behind him, colored in sensational reds are the denizens of the past that he and Fred have found. Great cover from Scott Fischer that teases what lies within this issue. The Variant cover by Jeff Dekal really won me over because it focuses on Illyria. Her arms are raised above her head as she calls upon some of her supernatural abilities to battle an unseen foe. She looks fantastic and the colors are incredible, with this cover blasting aside all other books on the shelves next to it. Because this looks so good, this is the cover I had to use to accompany this review. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+

The story: When last Fred and Angel were last seen, they were in a cave with one of the friendly residents, Swal, as Illyria’s ancient self has arrived to consume them. Angel grabs Fred and gets as far from the cave opening as possible, while Swal remains in place, begging forgiveness to his god. Things don’t go too well for him. After some tense moments, Illyria leaves, allowing the pair to hear Swal’s final words, “She goes…She goes to attend the Calling…” They realize that the sound that drove Illyria off was a call to arms and that the demons will be gathering to kill Illyria’s rival or worse, “…create one big smogasbord for him!” As the two make a decision, someone appears and things become complicated. Writer Corinna Bechko doesn’t allow any moment for a reader to go through this book peacefully. Things change rapidly, sometimes to inhibit the characters and others times to assist them. This sense of unpredictability will have a reader quickly speeding through the pages to see what predicament the protagonists will next encounter. The bottom of Page 7 will be a familiar, yet welcome moment, for long time Angel fans, and the surprise on 9 will have one wonder what’s going to happen next. After being such a boss on the previous pages, it was good to see Angel slipping up later in the book. The book turns to two surprises on 19, with a new addition in their setting being somewhat disturbing, but very funny. The final page introduces the conflict for next issue and it’s going to be some paradox inducing business. Overall grade: A

The art: Geraldo Borges’s artwork will either please or upset fans: Angel doesn’t really look like David Boreanaz. There’s a slight resemblance, but it may not be enough for hardcore Angel fans. I think he looks fine, but my fifteen-year-old daughter who has just started bingging on Buffy, really wasn’t pleased with how he’s rendered. She hasn’t gotten to Angel’s own show yet, so she has no opinion on Fred. I do think she resembles Amy Acker, more so than Boreanaz his character, but both look okay. Where Borges excels is in his design of the old gods that wreck quite a bit of havoc and moving the point of view about to make the visuals engaging. Case in point, all of Page 3 looks like a storyboard for a movie with the way it’s set up: it’s perfect! The surprise action in the fourth panel on 5 is also excellent, with the reveal in the following panel cinematic. The bottom panel on 7 is great, which does look as though it’s from the series, and the action that follows on 8 is very well done. The creatures that Angel speaks with look good; similar to something that would have been on the television show. What’s revealed on 11 is neat; again, something that would have been in the series. Borges goes back to a cinematic layout with the action on 15 and 16 having some smart movement, with the transitions between panels keeping the action fluent. There’s a neat close up on 19 that’s unconventional, but works very well for what the story is demanding. One’s love for this book will depend on how much one likes the interpretation of the title character. I’m liking it, but I acknowledge that it might not be for everyone. Overall grade: A

The colors: From the outset, the colors on this book ramp up the visuals. Michelle Madsen makes the fire the protagonists are around a frightening thing in the first panel, as its oranges explode in the center of the image, creating some neat rusts the farther one is from the blaze. The tentacles emerging from ancient Illyria’s…head(?)…are an earth brown, making their appearance seem dirty, but the teeth that are shown are the same color, giving this character a truly grotesque flavor. When Angel makes his way into the forest he’s accompanied by some beautiful shades of green, which calms the reader down from the actions that earlier occurred. The tiffany blue (Yeah, I had to look that up) used for the night scenes is a good choice, as its different from any evening on Earth, but close enough to suggest the hour. I’m liking what Madsen is doing. Overall grade: A

The letters: Outbursts, the story’s title, whispers, sounds, dialogue, the unique font of the denizens (which sweetly is the same as Angel in a particular mode), and the tease for next issue are done by Whedon comicverse regulars Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. There’s quite a bit of whispering in the first few pages and it’s very legible, allowing a reader to read the text without squinting. I really like the similarity in fonts between the inhabitants and Angel, suggesting he might be looking at distant relations. The sounds are also terrific, with the one on Page 5 being my favorite. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Lots of action and Illyria issues in this outing. Some potential allies may have been made, as well as changes for the future. Definitely worth checking out. 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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