User Generated Contest Deadline And A Review Of Angel: After the Fall Volume 1

First off; this contest I threw out there the other day? Deadline to take part is Tuesday. I already have a wopping two entries, so the field is still wide open. I also might take a suggestion from one of them and just print the five best. So, you know, if you want to associate with me, you have until the end of ECW on Sci-Fi or so to get in on that.

I haven't been reading a lot of comics lately. Been too busy writing here, really, which is just not good on any level. There's that and the fact that my Wednesday trip to the shop was curtailed by comics being released today. That, and me being pretty damn broke right now. Two pretty strong reasons there. I do have such a massive backlog of stuff to read via e-bay and comic shop sales that I'll be able to review things for awhile in spite of any lean Wednesdays to come.

That said, I'm still buying Buffy Season 8 ASAP. I'll spring for that in spite of my diminshed bank account. That segues pretty well to the continuation of the spin off of Whedon's cash cow of feminist empowerment and kicking, Angel: After the Fall. Finally picked up the first trade recently.

At one point, I planned to buy this in singles. Unfortunately, on a flip through at the LCS, something just like this happened. Including the bitchin' guitar solo. So I was kind of put off. So I wasn't a fan of the art at all, to put it mildly.

I've warmed up to it in retrospect. It kind of has that digital inking technique going on I love so much, but it's not as washed out and crappy as in other comics. Also, Franco Urru gets to draw a dragon wrecking things and Spike's grotto, so there are a lot of cool money shots here. Well, as in cool visuals; it's being published by IDW, not Eros.

The real stand out here is the script, though. Brian Lynch (who proves his Whedon-verse bonafides in the foreword) delivers the kind of snappy, entertaining banter I expect from a Mutant Enemy joint, but since this isn't Buffy, it's less cutesy. Angel always had that going for it, linguistically, and as long as Fray doesn't show up here, it should be okay.

Plot wise, Whedon and Lynch come up with a really interesting status quo for the continuing adventures of the Wolfram and Hart brigade. I won't spoil it (although it's pretty heavily implied in the title) but it does give them a great reason why they aren't crossing over with Buffy at all (even if you'd think something this major would be on our perky blonde militant's radar). So, that's all very nice.

The main reason why I like this book better than the better selling Buffy so far is that it has a better reason to exist off the back of the show. While the finale of Buffy was open ended, it did provide closure for the series, which makes sense considering they knew it was coming. Angel, of course, was taken before its time. As much as I enjoy Buffy's continued adventures, I don't need to see what happens as much as I did with Angel, which ended on the mother of all cliffhangers, so there was so much more material to work with. These characters have a lot less milage than the Scooby Gang on them, so it should be interesting how Whedon, Lynch, and any other hands involved in the project put them through the wringer.

It also helps that, while this element is there, the whole "we have no budget to worry about, so let's pile on special effects" aspect is not as prevalent as it was in the first Buffy arc and elements of the subsequent ones. And there's no centaurs at all in the issues I've read (I have one issue in the current arc to go, for full disclosure, but I doubt it will wreck the book for me. If it does, I'll post a screed on here that will anger Whedon, Lynch, and let's say Paul O'Brien). So, at any rate, Chris Sims should approve heartily of that.

Being an IDW book, it has great production values. For your 24.99 you'll get a good deal of supplemental material, including a script and the pitch for the series among the usual concept skectches and cover reprints. You also get a book mark in the spine, which is something I always love, so it seems like it lives up to the price to me.

Of course, this kind of thing is generally "for fans only" by nature. Not sure if this will convert any Whedon haters, especially since he's still refusing to undertake a study in to the existence of bi-curiousity among perky blondes. Whedon agonstics (it's totally like a religion, in that the fanatics embarass the rest of us) who really like post apocalyptic stories may want to give the soft cover a whirl at some point, but I can't see anyone else springing for the hardcover but people who really liked the original show, even if some of us never signed a petition to get it back on there air. I guess I'm at fault that it didn't come back, aren't I? I'm to Angel what Ken Kniesel is to Flex Mentallo.

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