In Review: Angel: Season 11 #9

Problems with time travel are voiced, just as the leads end up at a key moment in the past.

The covers: The Regular cover is really going to mess with one’s mind the longer one looks at it. Scott Fischer created this twisted illustration that starts with Angel having no eyes and having his head slit where they should be and hover about three inches from the rest of his body. Those vampiric flowers from the first issue of this series are coming out of his lower head, along with several millipedes. A giant fly is in silhouette in the lower left, and it’s this same outline that makes up wallpaper behind the hero. Do not do drugs and look at this cover. What’s it all mean? I have no idea, but it’s so bizarre it’s impossible to forget once you look upon it. The Variant cover by Geraldo Borges with Michelle Madsen is the image I chose to accompany this review because it shows three of my favorite characters: Angel, Illyria, and Fred. The three are tumbling through a time portal, with Fred and Illyria somehow being separated. That’s enough to get my interest! The characters look great and I love the violets and blues used in the warp. Overall grades: Regular A- and Variant A

The story: “Dark Reflections” opens with Angelus, Darla, Angel, and Illyria travelling through a time portal created by the Old One. The vampires want to know what’s going on, but they’re distracting Illyria who throws the pair out of the warp. Still trying to focus, Illyria says, “It was…too much. Transporting four, and the two the same…Not the same. I did not mean — This portal will not hold. I must –” and the portal disappears with Angel and Illyria transported onto an island at night. She allows Fred to take over, and the young woman has some revelations for Angel. Corinna Bechko addresses some major concerns about the pair running about through time, changing things. This leads Angel to a frightening conclusion, which has Illyria again take control and them contacting some familiar faces. This spins the book in a new direction, with Angel going further back into the past and arriving at a key moment. Angel’s past can’t be brought up enough for me, so I was as pleased as punch for where Bechko takes this book. Two new characters from the past are encountered, with one refusing to leave Angel alone, providing a terrific cliffhanger to ensure readers return next month. I enjoy these treks through characters’ past and Bechko is putting the lead through so much trouble, much of it his own making. I love this! Overall grade: A

The art: The first page has four equal sized panels that show the characters in close-up as Illyria tries to open the portal. The vampires look ferocious in the first two panels, Angel looks concerned, and Illyria has a face she rarely has — one of strain. The next page shows the four characters waiting for the Old One to get the job done, with the magical spirals looking cool. The vampires’ exit is well done, with Angel’s visual reaction pretty funny. The final panel on 3 has a terrific close-up of Illyria freaking out. This is countered by a close-up of Fred’s eyes on 5, emoting very differently. The magic cast on 10 is awesome — very powerful, and when the pair move into it on 11 the characters look great, especially Illyria’s hair. The setting on 12 was exceptionally well done, great architecture in every inch. There’s an excellent two panel sequence on 17 that shows where one character is in relationship to another. And that “another” looks fantastic. All that was missing at this character’s reveal is the ominous music. Geraldo Borges does a solid job on this book’s visuals. Overall grade: A

The colors: Michelle Madsen opens the book with some stellar colors for the close-ups. Each is floating about in the night sky and is colored fantastically in blue. The magic that Illyria is casting causes Angel and Darla to get some green tinting. The vampires have some killer yellows done for their eyes to make them menacing. Illyria’s gorgeous hair, lips, and eyes have a matching light violet to make her inhuman. Violets dominate the next pair of pages to create the night and to remind the reader that it is Illyria making the magic happen. The magic she projects is excellent in an electric green. When on the island the colors of the leads have their normal bright shades, but when magic returns the opening colors also come back into play. The new and final location has dark colors to reflect the time and they look great. They dress the story well. Overall grade: A 

The letters: The story’s title, dialogue, sounds, vampire speech, and the tease for next issue come to life thanks to Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. I never get tired of seeing the vampire speech that this duo creates because it looks so monstrous. There aren’t too many sounds in this book because the dialogue is so important in setting up where the characters are to go and the problems that their past adventures might be creating. The dialogue is easy to read and never breaks the cardinal rule of covering important elements of the art. A solid job. Overall grade: A

The final line: Problems with time travel are voiced, just as the leads end up at a key moment in the past. The characters think things out and don’t just react, which puts them far above typical comic book fare. I love how it’s the characters that drive the story. The visuals are great, with the characters emoting exceptionally well. Outstanding for long time fans or those new to the Buffyverse. 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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