“Does anyone have a car? We could get further away from Angel if we had a car.” – Spike
“Man’s career path is based on a pun, can’t be too much inner pride.” – Angel, referring to the Loan Shark Demon
So after all this time, it turns out the Loan Shark Demon is named “Bro’os”. Get it? Think Finding Nemo. Well played, Brian Lynch!
As I’d hoped, this issue brought back the cohesiveness that I felt the “First Night” issues lacked. Armed with a new artist (Nick Runge), we return to the story exactly where it left off at the end of Issue #5, in the middle of a pitched battle of Angel & Friends versus the Champions of the L.A. Demon Lords. At the last minute, Wesley (“Casper the Dapper Ghost”) has appeared on the scene, and as a result, Illyria has reverted back to being Fred again. And according to Spike, it’s not the first time. Apparently, she flips back and forth regularly, and whenever she’s Fred, he protects her.
Observation: If we’ve learned nothing else about Spike over the years, it’s that in the women department, he seems to be attracted to nothing quite so much as a fixer-upper — Crazy Drusilla, Season 6 Buffy, and now Fred-Not-Fred. And yet in each case, these women are powerful, and once fixed, they always move on. I’m guessing the same will happen with Illyria/Fred, even though technically, the two aren’t romantically involved.
Okay, so just as we suspected, Angel and Wesley had a plan all along. Fight the champions for a bit, make it a good show, then appeal to the Demon Lords’ pride — force them to use their Hagan Shafts on him. What the Demon Lords don’t know is that they only have the shafts because Wesley and Angel worked a deal with Bro’os the turncoat Loan Shark Demon to introduce the shafts to the others in the first place. And that the true nature of a Hagan Shaft is to kill the person wielding it. So when they all (except Bro’os of course) use the shafts, they die. Kaput. No more Demon Lords. Just, you know, some pesky demon champions to kill, and the fact that Hell seems to go crazy violent all the sudden. But it’s nothing the crew — with the addition of The Spikettes — can’t handle.
When the smoke clears, Angel puts Lorne and Groosalugg in charge of what he hopes will be a “kindler, gentler” Los Angeles, while he chooses their new base of operations — none other than the Hyperion Hotel, which was Angel Inc.’s home from Seasons 2 to 4. The hotel was last seen briefly in the series finale, although you may not realize you saw it. The alley where the Final Battle at the end happens? That’s right next to the hotel. Anyway, the plan seems to be move all the humans into the hotel, and then … well … okay, so there doesn’t seem to be any plan after that. But I’m sure Wesley will cook something up. As soon as he’s finished showing off his slightly mangled corpse to Fred. Which Illyria then picks up and walks away with. Which … you know, kind of weird. But maybe she has a plan too.
So … do we believe Illyria when she says that Fred is still inside her? I get the impression that she believes it, but Wesley seems skeptical, writing it off to something like echoes of Fred in Illyria’s head, rather than Fred herself. Remains to be seen, I guess. More importantly, what will it take before we get to see Cordelia? It’s pretty clear that during Wesley’s reminiscence, she’s the un-named Power-That-Is he was trying to summon. He did choose the fashion district as a summoning point, after all. But apparently, the best Cordy could do was send a little breeze to let him know he’d been heard. I’m guessing because they’re in a Hell dimension, and Hell is out of her jurisdiction? Which then begs the question …
Are they ever getting out of Hell? And if so, when? I’m not sure why I haven’t asked myself this already. Perhaps because the characters have been so busy staying alive that they haven’t raised the issue themselves. But with the Demon Lords gone, I’m guessing they’ll start to work toward that goal. Of course, what they don’t know is that Vampire Gunn is out there watching them, plotting against them. Plotting what, I have no idea. But at the rate he’s been killing off his own henchmen, he better do whatever it is soon, before he has nobody left to help him.
The pub date for Issue #10, as well as for the first issue of the 4-part Spike: After the Fall book, seems to be up in the air right now, for some reason. The best info I can get for both is that they’re due out in July. Once I know more, I’ll let you know.