All My Senses Dislocating: Diana on 15/2

NEW SAVAGE CRITICS #1Written by Brian Hibbs Art by Kate McMillan Cover by Blogspot

A new epic begins here! Witness the rebirth of a super-team as Stonetuck, The Hyacinth, Uzumeri Yojimbo, Shan-Ti and Chris Eckert join the Savage Critics! The revelation of Norman Osborn's natural hair color in GOTHAM UNBOUND: THE GREAT PIE HEIST has rocked the universe to its core; as other thrilling secrets come to light, the Savage Critics reunite to unmask the true mastermind behind recent events. Who will live? Who will die? Who will receive the dreaded ASS Rating? Nothing will ever be the same again!

On sale Feb 14 • infinity pg, FC, $0.00 US

Welcome aboard, guys!

And now, a review. ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL #17 brings the "sixth season" of ANGEL to a close. I was never a big fan of the series - David Boreanaz is about as sharp as lime Jello, and the later seasons had an awkward habit of getting all their female characters pregnant, crazy and dead (not always in that order). But I thought it'd be interesting to see what Joss Whedon had had in mind if the show hadn't been cancelled.

As it turns out, ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL makes for an interesting companion to the current "eighth season" of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER over at Dark Horse, in that the two series have taken the same premise - continuing the Sunnydale Saga past its conclusion - in very different directions.

BUFFY, for example, suffers from an overabundance of "cool" ideas: whether it's Joss Whedon or Drew Goddard or Steven DeKnight writing, what we get is a rapid sequence of interesting concepts - many of which couldn't have been televised even with a substantial CGI budget - but none of those ideas are explored in-depth. An average story arc of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is so compressed that it just runs from plot point A to plot point B, and I don't think there's enough characterization - Buffy, Willow, Xander and the others are just sort of there.

On the other hand, ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL has spent seventeen issues essentially telling one story: Los Angeles has been sucked into Hell after the events of the series finale, Angel's crew has scattered and the civilian population finds itself hunted in the streets by demons and vampires. Angel himself has become human, at the worst possible time.

Brian Lynch has basically taken the opposite approach to the BUFFY teams: seventeen issues on one storyline, no matter how expansive, is a bit much. In fact, despite the fact that the actual LA-in-Hell bit ended last issue, the emotional denouement in this epilogue still gets co-opted by Angel's ongoing feud with the demon lord Bruge. It wears a bit thin.

All that said, I still think Lynch does a better job with Whedon's characters than Whedon himself in recent months; in this issue, you've got Angel coping with his newfound popularity, a lovely posthumous moment for Fred and Wesley, Spike doing what he does best (and yet, at the same time, Lynch finally, mercifully moves past the juvenile "You Touched My Stuff" Angel and Spike routine), and Gunn... well, no spoilers, but there's some dramatically powerful closure there too.

Odd bit of trivia: both the BUFFY and ANGEL comics, either independently or by design (though how likely is that given that they're being produced by different companies?) have now done away with the whole secrecy angle, exposing the supernatural to the world. So Angel's an LA celebrity, and Harmony has turned public opinion against Slayers simply by being an undead Paris Hilton, etc. It's such a paradigm shift that I have to wonder whether Whedon was planning to do that during either series' run; it would've redefined everything.

So I'm going to go with a GOOD for this epilogue and a high OKAY for the series, because it really did take way too long to get where it was going.