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Discussion of "Spike After the Fall #4" - Released 29/10/08 (IDW)



Well, that's that then. I think Brian wrapped up the mini-series beautifully, with this issue, even though it made me quite uneasy.

The revelation that there is no Fred left in Illyria after all was a harsh one. From the last issues of AAtF where Illyria was in the books in Fred's guise was a little confusing, but it all makes sense now. Illyria is trying to become Fred, using her form and trying to imitate her behavior.

It's sad to know that Fred is gone, but in light of what we were told on the show it makes sense.

Now there's also that timeslip in this issue, where I think we saw Illyria's true form. She didn't look quite as large as I imagined.

And finally: poor Jerry.


That'll put marzipan in your pie plate bingo
Mar 14, 2007
I really enjoyed the whole series.

And yes, the revelations about Illyria wanting to become Fred were both disturbing and interesting. And leaves me wondering why Illyria wants to be human? She always had nothing but contempt for humans and now she suddenly wants to be one? Hopefully this will be explained as Angel continues.

Also - does Spike know that it's not really Fred? I can't decide.

Loved the Spike/Connor interaction - just what I always imagined (except not enough of it)

The Art was superb - How great is Urru at drawing Illyria (and Spike)!

Loved the explanation for Spike attaining his 'Lordship'

Can't wait for this one in hardcover - amazon has preorder available.
Urru really proves that he is the best Angel-artist.


Sep 28, 2007
Amazing. This actually beats Issue 3 as my favourite Spike: After the Fall issue.

What's been remarkable about this series from the start is that it's not just pointless fanservice (which could have been an option for a lesser writer than Brian, since people would have bought the series even if it was just "88 pages of Spike sitting around shirtless, chained up, snarking about Angel and thinking passionate and inspiring thoughts about his one true Slayer love", as King of Cretins put it) -- but in fact, Spike: After the Fall informs the main Angel: After the Fall series in many, many ways, and this issue more than any other. Brian called it a "game-changer", in that "it will make you look at all the other ATF issues that have come out in a different light", so I will assume this is the final word on a much-debated subject...

Fred is dead, has been dead all along. What we've been watching all this time... is Illyria.

The Sadecki demon functions much in the same way as the Judge in Innocence, like Emmie very accurately pointed out, or -- I will add -- Drogyn in A Hole in the World. A character who drains humanity to tell us that there's no humanity in Angelus. A character who can tell no lies to tell us that there's no way to save Fred. And now a character who can influence any lifeform, to tell us the nature of Frillyria's lifeform. "There's nothing human about her. She wants it! She's trying to force it... but there's nothing left but -- Illyria."

Needless to say, this is huge for Illyria's character, and immeasurably more interesting than the alternative (Fred body-sharing with Illyria) would have been. She wants it. She's trying to force it. This from the character who disparaged humanity and all its associated weaknesses every chance she got, when she first appeared in the series.

Now that the cat's come out of the bag, her transformations to Fred break your heart and creep you out by turns; you've got moments to remind you how far she's come, like her wobbly, vulnerable "It's scary, I know --" (nailed, I mean nailed by Franco), and moments to remind you that she may wear Fred's face, but she's still Illyria, like her straight-faced "You told me, Spike. No-one... matters... but... me."

So -- and again, this is only applicable if this is the final say on the mystery, as most people believe (and as Brian has led us to believe) -- Wesley had it right. ("She's confused by Gunn's sudden re-appearance, so she's doing what Fred would have done when she didn't understand something. She has no idea what to look for but it's making her feel better.") He knows them both so well. Spike, on the other hand, seems to be in denial about the whole thing, which, very in-character for him. He feels like he's protecting Fred like he couldn't protect her in A Hole in the World, or Dawn and consequently Buffy in The Gift (as James Marsters said: "In my own mind, I killed her. ... I failed up there completely. I was supposed to protect her and Dawn, and I absolutely failed." ... "Big time guilt about that. Huge").

Not surprisingly, all the best scenes in this issue are Illyria-centric, and they're all -- and this is a compliment I don't give out lightly, so savour it while it lasts -- as good as anything that's been done with her in the televised series. Until this issue, I honestly didn't think that could be done. At any rate: topping the list are the two aforementioned moments, along with the scene of Illyria "strengthening their flock" by ensuring Jeremy's "absence". Ouch. We all expected Jeremy to die, at least in the back of our minds, but no-one could have imagined he would die in this manner. Further proof that death doesn't have to be "gratuitous" in this 'verse, as some readers seem to be complaining these days -- not when it gives the remaining characters (like Illyria and Spike here) such huge moments. Bring on the delicious pain, Brian. (Illyria's "Tell me I was right to do it" plea, followed by that haunting panel of Jeremy's dead body, makes for one of the most shocking character deaths in the whole 'verse -- and here we thought it would be among the most predictable ones!)

I loved Spike in this issue, too. The Spike-Connor rapport was funny and adorable; he's definitely the boy's "cool uncle" in this weird family dynamic. (Can we get a dream sequence with Angel, Darla, Connor and Spike playing Scrabble together, pretty please?) Spike swearing off "attachments" on account of what happened to his previous attachments, most recently Jeremy, was very sad and believable, too. His affair with Spider makes even more sense when viewed from that perspective, although I'm not surprised to see he's become a little more attached than he had intended to. (This issue is not likely to improve people's opinion of her, by the way, with the Charmed reference. *g*)

Also, this is not likely to interest anyone but me, but... what is up with Spike and musicals? LOL! He appears to be acquainted with "My Fair Lady" ("By George, I think he's got it!"), "The Music Man" (The day you suss out what you do want, there'll probably be a parade. Seventy-six bloody trombones"), "Les Misérables" ("Trust me, halfway through the first act, you'll be drinking humans again"), and now "Starlight Express". No wonder he gets along with Lorne. (Loved that little nod, by the way. Canonize Asylum and Shadow Puppets already!)

Also loved that the Hugh Hefner jokes that had been running rampant in the forums for months were made textual. Hee!

Franco has a lot to do with the awesomeness of this issue, too, since he did some of his best work here. The first panel featuring the Sadecki, the "nothing human about her" Illyria panel, the "It's scary, I know --" Illyria-as-Fred panel, Jeremy's death and Spike's reaction to it, the time-travel sequence, that simplistic and simultaneously loaded panel of Illyria-as-Fred holding her hand... wow. I didn't like the colouring, but I've gotten used to not liking it by now, so it didn't really detract from my enjoyment.

The only thing I can think of that took me out of the moment was Connor's "Feed you, how? Like, a date? Because that is inappropriate and ill-timed, and I kinda like someone else", which seemed... inappropriate and ill-timed. ;) Oh, and I thought the last few pages moved a bit slowly. However, these things were barely a blip in my radar compared to the Good Stuff, so I give it...

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