In Review: Angel: Season 11 #8

Zombie pirates, death dealing insects, and time travel paradoxes with Angel and Fred right in the middle of it.

The covers: Scott Fischer is creating some incredibly wondrous covers for this series that are anything but Regular. Angel is holding Fred aloft, with her posing like a ballerina in some impossibly graceful pose. From the waist down the vampire has become a mass of the zombie beetles that have possessed so many characters in the previous two issues. Surrounding this mass of insects are several stretched out ghostly hands seeking to grasp the pair of protagonists. This is beautiful, elegant, and creepy. Dark Horse, please release Fischer’s covers as a series of prints! The Variant cover by Stephanie Hans is also really cool. Looking down upon the heroes’ raft, Angel tries to protect himself from the deadly rays of the sun. Walking on the ocean, leading the vessel, is Illyria, who looks back at the reader. Just under the water several shapes of dolphins — or are they something else? — escort the Old One. In the distance, an mountainous island can be seen, with the sun making it glow orange. Great cover that shows both heroes making their way to the next setting. This is great! Overall grades: Regular A+ and Variant A

The story: When last seen, Fred and Angel were castaways in a raft, with no land in sight. The sun has risen, making Angel seek shelter behind a barrel lid. Their raft was surrounded by the zombie pirates, who, in the first panel of this issue, are now attacking. The battle is brutal, with Fred being the weakest combatant, though she does wield an oar like a bat. Angel is pulled into the water by one of the monsters, and, since he doesn’t need to breathe, grabs the back of the raft and begins to kick quickly, putting a considerable distance between them and the floating foes. Angel realizes that they’re near an island, with him giving a fairly funny reason why. With Angel’s ability to power the dinghy, they make their way to land. Page 8 was a fantastic tease by writer Corinna Bechko to show that some other characters are also on the island and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to get to them. Before encountering these individuals, Angel and Fred have a quick conversation on altering history, since they have done so, but it doesn’t get as complicated as Doc Brown would have one believe. A tiny terror appears on 9 foreshadowing the return of a larger problem, and it’s as the heroes deal with this threat that more deadly ones appear on 12. The dialogue between these characters is flat out awesome. I almost — almost — wished that the rest of the issue allowed the conversation to take the remainder of the book, but Bechko realizes that all of them are threatened by what’s come ashore, and she has them deal with it in epic fashion. As if things couldn’t get bigger, another character arrives on 18 and the heat really turns up! The ending is fantastic, with the threat seemingly vanquished and time travel becoming very crowded. I loved every page of this issue, because it gave me plenty of exciting action that went to epic levels and had characters converse that never did on the series. Overall grade: A+

The art: This is Zé Carlos’s last issue, and that’s a shame because I’ve really enjoyed his work, with this being his best yet. The first eight pages of this installment focus entirely on Fred and Angel on the raft. This would seem to be a difficult location to make visually interesting, but Carlos does. Tight close-ups and moving the point of view around constantly, to make the action intense, makes this sequence a very quick read. I especially liked the zombie pirates’ bodies flying about and the water becoming so rough. There’s a really cool angle at the bottom of 3 that communicates to the reader what’s occurring without any dialogue. The entrance of the character in the large panel on Page 4 is perfection. There’s no dialogue on 6, and every reader will be able to understand what’s going through each character’s mind due to the illustrations. The sweet look given in the fourth panel on 11 was hilarious, and even funnier with the dialogue. The entrance in the first panel on 12 is like a creepy version of Wuthering Heights brought to life. Things go epic starting on 15 with several characters causing trouble and the group of protagonists trying to best them. The jaw-dropping image of the book is found on 18; all that’s missing is a rousing musical score. The substance that saves and damns the heroes after this entrance is really impressive. The final panel of the book is cool and funny, given who’s now involved in the action. Mr. Carlos, please return soon. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Gloriously strong colors mark Michelle Madsen’s work on this issue. A picture perfect blue sky and cool blues for the ocean create a picturesque backdrop for the motley browns and grays of the attackers. Sounds explode against these blues when Fred goes into action. Colors are key on these ocean scenes for Angel, as he’s trying to protect himself from the deadly sun, so his colors are dimmed to show he’s safely shaded. As the sun sets the background goes a killer violet that’s the envy of every sky. A dark blue is used to show the evening, which happily allows all of Carlos’s artwork to be seen in every panel. Bright colors are used for the backgrounds during the epic battle and they energize the art considerably, especially on Page 16. Orange dominates the final pages and it makes the proceedings all the more spectacular. Madsen can do no wrong on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Sounds, the story’s title, dialogue, yells, several whispers, vampire speech, and the tease for next issue are created by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. The whispers in this book are well done, with them being small enough to instantly signify for the reader that the text being spoken is not as loud as the other dialogue, and it’s still big enough to be read without the reader having to strain. I thank both gentlemen for that! The sounds are the major takeaway of the issue as there’s just so many of them, with them being spectacularly varied to make each unique and fitting for their action. Plus, the vampire speech still creates chills, with emphasis being shown in one character’s speech, putting stress on a key word. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Zombie pirates, death dealing insects, and time travel paradoxes with Angel and Fred right in the middle of it. This makes being dead look easy. Absolutely recommended. 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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