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Discussion of "Angel Aftermath #18" Release 25/02/09 (IDW)

A

Allycat

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It's the first of five issues written by novelist Kelley Armstrong. Fairly early on, it becomes obvious that Kelley doesn't have the voices down quite as good as Brian did.

The story was okay. It's clearly only setting things up, but I like the general directing of the plot. I could perhaps have been a little sharper, more original, and refined. Since it's the first issue, the focus was probably on getting the characters right and that is more important.

As for the cast of characters. It's nice to see Kate is back, even though her inclusion was a bit sudden. She looks different, younger. And what's up with women clad is black-ops outfits. First the Slayers, then Spider and the Spikettes, now Kate?

The two city council figures are awesome! If Angel is going back to his roots, having an old-fashioned corporate evil with human agents to oppose him works out great. (BTW, is the blonde guy supposed to be African American?)

I'm glad they kept Angel's thought-balloons. They really improve on the story. I liked how he wanted to keep the new office open only after he knew Connor wanted to be involved.

As for Connor, I'm curious to see where he and Gwen end up. I wonder where his "parents" are in all this? Do they still live in LA and is he in contact with them? Also, wasn't he attending Stanford before the Fall?

I wish the issue could've been a little bit longer, but that's not a complaint against this issue, because I feel that way about almost all Buffy/Angel issues. The closer they are to 30 pages, the better in most cases.

As for the art, I can get used to it, but I still prefer Urru on it.

Finally, is it just me, or was the subtitle Aftermath mentioned nowhere?
 

Clem Rocks

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Apparently they're not gonna have Aftermath on them, but that's still what this arc is gonna be known as
 

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I think the concept is fine but the execution was of a level far below Lynch, Whedon, Greenwalt, Fury & Bell.

I think it's funny that she said Angel was the easiest to write since a lot of the writers from the series considered him the hardest, and also the final result makes it look like she had a very hard time capturing his voice at all.

B: Many fans have been talking about the line Angel says within the first few pages while fighting off a demon, "I've redeemed my past." Has he really learned to accept his past? How do you think Angel's personal view of himself has changed since the end of season 5 and his experience in hell?

KA: I think he has redeemed himself, between the work he did in the TV series and After the Fall. The question is whether he believes it or he's just paying lip service to the notion. Either way, he's in a position of not quite knowing where to go next, so this story is about Angel (and most of the characters) in a state of flux, searching for their way.
That alone really makes me doubt that this issue's canon since that statement disregards the fact that Angel came to the conclusion that he just wants to help for the sake of helping. He stopped keeping score in S2 because it wasn't about "redeeming himself" anymore, it was about doing what was right:

ANGEL: "Actually, we're starting over with no slate."
WES: "Of course. We shouldn't be keeping score. We're not running a race - we're doing a job - one soul at a time."

ANGEL: "Well, I guess I kinda - worked it out. If there is no great glorious end to all this, if - nothing we do matters, - then all that matters is what we do. 'cause that's all there is. What we do, now, today. - I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward - finally just to beat the other guy, but... I never got it."
KATE: "And now you do?"
ANGEL: "Not all of it. All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because - I don't think people should suffer, as they do. Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness - is the greatest thing in the world."
 

AndrewCrossett

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This all calls to mind how similar Angel's story is to Xena's. (Except Xena looked better in a leather miniskirt, I would assume.)
 
A

Allycat

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That alone really makes me doubt that this issue's canon since that statement disregards the fact that Angel came to the conclusion that he just wants to help for the sake of helping. He stopped keeping score in S2 because it wasn't about "redeeming himself" anymore, it was about doing what was right:

ANGEL: "Actually, we're starting over with no slate."
WES: "Of course. We shouldn't be keeping score. We're not running a race - we're doing a job - one soul at a time."

ANGEL: "Well, I guess I kinda - worked it out. If there is no great glorious end to all this, if - nothing we do matters, - then all that matters is what we do. 'cause that's all there is. What we do, now, today. - I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward - finally just to beat the other guy, but... I never got it."
KATE: "And now you do?"
ANGEL: "Not all of it. All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because - I don't think people should suffer, as they do. Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness - is the greatest thing in the world."
In her defence, when Angel and Spike were racing to the Cup of Perpetual Whatever in season 5, it didn't look to me like he didn't care about the reward. Then again, he did sign it away at the end of season 5.

I think her answer (from the Q&A) here gives a good explanation to what's going on. I like the notion that Angel, just for a moment allows himself to breathe (not literally) and relax.
 

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In her defence, when Angel and Spike were racing to the Cup of Perpetual Whatever in season 5, it didn't look to me like he didn't care about the reward. Then again, he did sign it away at the end of season 5.

I think her answer (from the Q&A) here gives a good explanation to what's going on. I like the notion that Angel, just for a moment allows himself to breathe (not literally) and relax.
re: "Destiny"
Angel was more beaten down in that episode than any other. The whole point of "Hell Bound" through "You're Welcome" was at that point, after losing both Connor & Cordy and working for Wolfram & Hart, he had all but given up on the Shanshu prophecy.

Hell Bound said:
SPIKE
Oh, put your martyr away, Mahatma. Fred told me all about your great, shining prophecy. Pile up all your good deeds and get the big brass ring handed to you like everything else.

ANGEL
(turns to face Spike)
Except for one small catch. The prophecy's a bunch of bull. They all are. Nothing's written in stone or fated to happen, Spike. You save the world, you end up running an evil law firm.

SPIKE
Or playin' Casper with one foot in the fryer.

ANGEL
(walks close around Spike, whispering in his ear)
You think any of it matters? The things we did? The lives we destroyed. That's all that's ever gonna count. So, yeah, surprise. You're going to hell. We both are.
(sits on couch)

SPIKE
Then why even bother?
(scoffs)
Try to do the right thing, make a difference...

ANGEL
What else are we gonna do?

SPIKE
So that's it, then. I really am going to burn.

ANGEL
Welcome to the club.
Destiny said:
ANGEL
That's not a prize you're holding.
It's not a trophy. It's a burden. It's a cross.
One you're gonna have to bear till it burns you to ashes. Believe me. I know.
It wasn't until "You're Welcome" that Angel re-embraced his mission and still, he wasn't doing it for a reward, he wasn't doing it for The Powers That Be or even for Buffy or Cordy, he was back on track just for the sake of doing good.

The S2 quote I posted earlier summed it up, he literally said that for those months that he was fighting for redemption or a reward he "never got it." His real mission from then on was simply to help the world trying to redeem himself all the while but without any kind of goal number of good deeds that would redeem him. He slipped a good few times, but from mid-Season 2 through After the Fall, he explicitly said that that was his mission.

In After the Fall his final words were that he knows he's done bad things and will continue to do good things for as long as he can.

Remember what Angel told Gunn in "Underneath"?
ANGEL
Listen, Gunn... I know you feel bad about your part in what happened to Fred. And you should. For the rest of your life, it should wake you up in the middle of the night. And it will...because you're a good man. You signed a piece of paper, that's all.
Does that really sound like a guy who decides a couple of months later, "Okay, I saved the city from another Apocalypse, I'm squared away now--Atonement-CHECK! Mission Accomplished!"

Now I know what you're saying Allycat, how Angel deserves a breather, and I agree with you he sure earned a reprieve, but a vacation from the apocalypse is surely different than him suddenly deciding that 100-years of being the most vicious vampire in history is now A-OK. Angel would never decide that. Just read the Whedon, Fury & Bell interviews from recent times. They all said that Angel's quest for atonement is a never ending battle (at least until the final apocalypse referenced in Fray that ends all dark magic).

I just can't imagine that Armstrong's arc is canon, because I can't see Joss entering "Angel = Redeemed" into canon. Whedon literally said a few months ago that Angel will have to fight for redemption everyday, that that is the point of Angel. And Fury said Angel's fight for redemption never ends, it's an eternity of fighting.

Angel, Whedon, Fury & Bell have all constantly said that Angel is fighting a war that he doesn't believe he can win. What makes Angel so noble is that he keeps on fighting while believing that there's no big win at the end.
 
A
Allycat
You have convinced me, that line is irredeemably bad.

AndrewCrossett

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Now that I've satisfied myself that "Aftermath" is not canon, I have to say I found it easier to relax and enjoy this issue, like I would enjoy an imaginative and professionally written fanfic.

The "redeemed my past" line seems a little klunky, and kind of a sudden thing for Angel to suddenly blurt out. Kelley Armstrong says that while he said that, he doesn't necessarily believe it. Personally, from the outside looking in, I agree that Angel has redeemed his own past mistakes... because he's not morally responsible for the things Angelus did. I'd like to think he's finally come to that realization, but I don't know that Joss would agree.

I think it's a sign of character growth when a hero stops trying to fight for redemption (i.e., it's all about me) and starts fighting for good (it's all about all of us). See my above comment about the Xena comparison.

Kate certainly is... different, but considering I always thought that character was a dead end, I don't really mind. I can certainly accept as plausible the idea that she actually thrived in Hell-A, finally getting to fight the good fight without having her hands tied by rules and regulations.

And you'll never catch me complaining about a sexy blonde in tight leather.

I am interested to find out more about the two new "suits" that have intruded themselves in Angel's life. They look an awful lot like the Oracles from season 1, and I don't think that's accidental.

Dez the were-cat has my attention too. Shapeshifting women are definitely within Kelley Armstrong's comfort zone, so this is a character to watch.

I wish there were more of the core characters in the story. Lorne would have fit in nicely. I was surprised to see Gunn's condition resolved so casually. I was also surprised to see him leaving town with Illyria, though I probably shouldn't have been. With Wes gone and Spike wanting nothing to do with her, Gunn is probably the person she feels closest to, especially with her current Fred fixation.

As a non-canonical Angel story, I give this a B+ and will continue reading.
 

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I agree that Angel has redeemed his own past mistakes... because he's not morally responsible for the things Angelus did. I'd like to think he's finally come to that realization, but I don't know that Joss would agree.
I agree that (ensouled) Angel's done a lot more good than bad. Another problem that Armstrong's statement creates is that the point of his curse was that he can't make peace with what Angelus has done.

Angel really isn't completely independent of Angelus though, Angelus is part of him. We saw Angelus leading him to eat that guy in the 70s after all. And if Angel really was a blank slate, staking Darla & Dru wouldn't have been much harder than his other missions.

If I approached this like a fanfic maybe I would like it better, but even then I doubt I'd be happy with that line that seemingly betrays what Angel, Joss, Greenwalt, Fury, Bell & Lynch see as the essence of Angel.

It was like how Angel eatting another guy in Viva Las Buffy kinda hurt the story for me (though I like that better than Aftermath)
 

BuffyBot38

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I dont think aftermath should have been written because i loved the way ATF ended that was really a fitting way to end it there were no unaswered questions and the characters storys had all been tied. PLUS excited about the Drusilla ARC
 

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^Aftermath's not canon as far as I'm concerned so it's really a moot point comparing it to After the Fall.

Armstrong is the only one who makes the claim that it's canon, and she's never even spoken to Joss, so...
 

AndrewCrossett

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Armstrong is the only one who makes the claim that it's canon, and she's never even spoken to Joss, so...
I don't think she entirely understood what was meant by "canon" when she answered that question. She seemed to be basing that claim on the fact that Joss or his office signed off on the story outline, but they do that with all Buffyverse materials, both canon and non-canon. I think it's a contractual necessity.

Just as well. I'm actually more likely to enjoy Aftermath knowing it's not canon, to tell the truth.
 

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Well she also claims that future canon stories will reference Aftermath events as canon, but again, she's never even spoken to Joss...
 

Clem Rocks

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Seeing as it's following AtF's numbering, surely it's just as much canon as AtF is?

And aren't Brian's Gunn and Dru arcs gonna be canon? They're gonna be part of Aftermath, so how can there be any doubt that Aftermath is canon?
 

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Well she also claims that future canon stories will reference Aftermath events as canon, but again, she's never even spoken to Joss...
She may mean future stories in the IDW Angel series, but Brian Lynch (who's writing the issues after hers) just said today that the only issue of hers that he's read has been #18, and that you won't even need to read Aftermath to understand his Gunn and Drusilla stories. In fact, he's finished his Gunn script and is hard at work on Drusilla with Juliet Landau.

Believe me... if Joss is putting the canonical development of the second-most-important Buffyverse character into the hands of a person he's never met, who's never written an Angel story before in her life, and with a story he took no part in... then I'm going to go look for Anyanka and find out if she's been granting wishes at the IDW offices.
 
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AndrewCrossett

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Seeing as it's following AtF's numbering, surely it's just as much canon as AtF is?

And aren't Brian's Gunn and Dru arcs gonna be canon? They're gonna be part of Aftermath, so how can there be any doubt that Aftermath is canon?
IDW can put whatever numbers on the issues they want... if that makes readers assume that the issues are still canon, so much the better for sales.

The Gunn and Dru scripts have no more involvement from Joss than Aftermath does.

Aftermath is only the title of Kelley Armstrong's arc. The Gunn and Dru stories are not part of it.

They may very well be good stories, but they're not canon.
 
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Buffyverse Fan

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Believe me... if Joss is putting the canonical development of the second-most-important Buffyverse character into the hands of a person he's never met, who's never written an Angel story before in her life, and with a story he took no part in... then I'm going to go look for Anyanka and find out if she's been granting wishes at the IDW offices.
On top of that I believe Armstrong said that Joss had no involvement in selecting her to write Aftermath.

I agree, there's just no way it's canon. So far 100% of complete canon stories have been Executive Produced & Mapped by Joss Whedon. Aftermath has has zero involvement from Whedon.
 

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To get back to the issue itself, I did like the feeling of a new beginning. The famous Angel stuff is annoying, but hopefully they will eventually find a way around that. I like the new Kate, even though it's a completely different character from the show's. I'm at least interested enough to read the next issue. I do want to see more with what happened to Gunn though.
 
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