Angel #44 Review: IDW Gives Our Vamp A Half-Hearted Wave Goodbye

With Issue #44, IDW’s Angel series comes to a close. IDW has taken the vampire with a soul through a multitude of adventures during their time with him, some good and some less than good. While the final issue of Angel is not exactly the pulse-pounding ending the series deserves (and some of that can be blamed on Dark Horse’s snatching of the license), they do manage to deliver something the tortured lead character is not necessarily used to: a sense of hope.


Here’s a quick summary of Issue #44:

While Connor attempts to use his unusual powers to save Anne from the demon baby growing inside her, Laura channels her anger over the death of Mr. Polyphemus into a protection spell that is barely holding off the epically evil James. Just when all seems lost, a portal opens courtesy of the future version of Illryia, and our hero Angel comes jumping through.

James and Angel trade punches until James gains the upper hand. Using the vanishing gem provided by Darrow, Angel is able to momentarily immobilize James, but a twist of fate knocks the gem from Angel’s hand, sending it through a portal to the farthest point of the outer realms, or as James calls it, home. With the help of Connor and his new super powers, James is defeated and the demon inside Anne is born without killing her.

Back at the new offices of Angel Investigations, the team reflects and bonds over the events of the previous issues. Angel makes a final stop at Wolfram & Hart’s white room to make it clear that he’ll always be there to stand in their way. And even if he’s not, Connor is following in those footsteps. In the final shot of the series, Angel does his trademark exit down an alley as he contemplates Doyle, Cordy, Wes, and his other fallen friends. They’ve always been and continue to be his reason to keep fighting. It’s time to get back to work.

The Good

-Connections to the dystopian future! Writers David Tischman and Mariah Huehner do honor the down-trodden future that Angel visited in this final issue. The vanishing gem ends up right where Darrow claimed to have found it (the farthest point of the outer realm), and the signs all point to Anne’s demon infant growing up to become the helpful half-demon member of Wolfram & Hart that Angel meets in the future. No wonder Darrow ends up as keeper of the Angel museum.   

-Once again, Jenny Frison’s magnificent cover! Not surprisingly, Frison delivers another fantastic cover, depicting a young and beautiful vision of our hero! Somewhere, a certain blonde slayer is swooning.

The Bad:

-Angel ends with a whimper. While IDW has been hampered for some time by the restrictions that come with Dark Horse reclaiming the Angel license, I have to admit that I expected more from this issue. It’s the finale of all of IDW’s hard work, and, even if the writers were shackled by not being able to touch certain story elements, they’ve also spent this entire final arc setting up certain things that should have paid off: the final battle against James, a satisfying explanation of Connor’s new powers, the demonic pregnancy threatening Anne’s life, and the rift between Gunn and Connor that has been threatening to turn lethal for some time now. Unfortunately, none of this pans out. Angel and James throw a few punches at each other, and then Connor’s barely explained powers kick in and solve everybody’s problems. Boy, I wish that would’ve happened four issues ago.

-The missed connection with Dark Horse’s Buffy. Once again, I know they were hampered by the actions of Dark Horse, but I really expected this issue to explain where Angel was coming from when he had his infamous discussion with the Twilight-Dog in Buffy Season Eight. While editor/writer Mariah Huehner has stated the lead-in to those Twilight scenes is Joss’ story to tell, I feel that both IDW and Dark Horse missed a major opportunity to establish a real connection between the two comic book series and further legitimize the stories by both companies. Epic fail, guys.

The Ugly:

I can’t say that I share the feeling, but most fans still following IDW’s Angel run seemed to enjoy the final issue, happy that most of the team made it our alive and that Angel, for once, got a happy ending even if it was only for a short bit of time (with his missteps as Twilight just around the corner).

-Giving credit to IDW’s Angel run.  Despite my disappointment with this final issue, I have to admit that, for the most part, IDW has done some truly great things during their time with the Angel license. After the Fall, the Lorne Andy Hallet tribute issue, the Last Angel In Hell “movie” adaption, the Drusilla team-up between Brian Lynch and Juliet Landau, the Spike miniseries, and John Byrne’s contributions all got shout outs and are excellent issues which every Angel fan should take the time to check out. Almost every discussion online seemed to acknowledge IDW’s solid run, with some fans even choosing IDW as their preferred story line over Dark Horse and Joss himself! While I’m not one of the many who are fuming over the events of Buffy Season Eight, it felt good that IDW and the various people who worked on the Angel series got their due from the fans that have continued to support them.

-The missed opportunities.  Even though many were complimentary towards IDW and their handling of Angel, there were a few issues that fans brought up. The most worthy one that I noticed was the neglect of Gunn by most of the writers. Not only did his issues with Connor never come to a head, but Brian Lynch gave Gunn a lot to deal with given the events the character went through during Angel: After the Fall. None of the other writers that followed ever seemed to pick up that story thread. This was really unfortunate, given that After the Fall probably provided the meatiest story arc Gunn has ever had, and, once it was over, he went back to just being a character no one really knew what to do with.

-Angel vs. Faith.  I really don’t understand this one, but a select few Angel fans at were up in arms over that fact that in Dark Horse’s Season Nine, Angel will be sharing his series and title with the troubled slayer, Faith. Somehow, these fans feel that this is a demotion to the character compared to the fact that Spike may appear in Dark Horse’s Buffy comic, but the company would never title the series Buffy & Spike. While I can understand the argument, it feels paper-thin and very childish to me. Nothing negative will come from a series entitled Angel & Faith, and I cannot think of a more proper companion for the cursed vampire with a soul, especially given the events of Buffy Season Eight. If you need any convincing that this will be good for both characters, then re-watch those episodes of Angel that co-star Ms. Dushku, and you’ll be reminded of how much the characters have in common and share experiences that can only be related to one another. I can’t wait for this series (Angel & Faith starts in August, kiddies!!!).

There’s nothing more to be said, my fellow Scoobies! Much like I suggested at the end of Buffy Season Eight, I’d encourage every reader, whether you hated or loved it, to take some time between now and August to reread IDW’s entire run. While I very much approve buying issues month-to-month (that’s how we keep comic companies in business!), it’s a whole different animal to be able to read the stories straight through. You’ll be sure to see certain story elements read better this way and will discover a number of things that you didn’t notice the first time around.

’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer

Last modified on Monday, 24 December 2018 19:24

Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President
Favorite Comic BookPreacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
Favorite TV ShowBuffy the Vampire Slayer
Favorite BookThe Beach by Alex Garland
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