Angel: After the Fall, First Night (#6-8)

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“Seriously, we have to work on our gathering skills. Our slaughtering skills are second to none. But being late, that’s always our problem.” – Demon Mercenary

“What’s with that one word in your head, over and over … seriously, what the hell is a slayer?” – Betta George

“Well, this guy can go back to his box and pee next to where he sleeps knowing full well that he was right — and you’re all stupid!” – The End is Near Dude

Okay, so the “First Night” arc is over. And here’s what we’ve learned …

  • How Spike hooked up with Illyria … who was actually Fred again for a few minutes.
  • How Connor (of the three fathers) almost got his ass kicked by a gang of demons.
  • How Lorne established a safe haven in Silverlake.
  • How Wesley was recruited by Wolfram & Hart … and is the “key to all this”.
  • What happened to Kate the Cop … who is bad-ass, and still quotes Angel.
  • How Electric Gwen is never allowed to have sex, thereby making her grumpy.
  • How some homeless guy was right, and yet wrong, about the end of the world.
  • Who sired Gunn the Vampire … some vamp we’ve never met, who’s working “under the radar” of Wolfram & Hart, and who says Gunn is “more important than he knows,” which is why he turned him, to save his life, when it was clear that Angel had forgotten about him during the Big Battle.
  • How much Betta George hates being held prisoner.

All in all, the revelations were cool. But I have to admit, I’m kind of mixed about “First Night” as a whole. I held off thinking about it too much until I’d read the third issue, and now that I have … I’m not sure I liked it as much as I hoped I would. The patchwork nature of the narrative, along with the various (and not always good) art styles, felt choppy, and left me a bit unsatisfied. Lynch usually does such a great job of building a story up over 22 pages, and that was lost. And I’m not sure if you noticed, but pound for pound, the dialogue in these issues — while well written — was less funny than usual. Ultimately, there were a few cool moments in each issue, but not quite enough to carry the books for me.

To be honest, I would much rather have seen entire issues dedicated to one or two characters’ experiences. There was something a bit disingenuous and artificial about separating everybody’s stories, when the whole point of the series finale was the idea of them working as a team to take on the forces of evil. Move them to Hell, and suddenly that all goes away? Maybe. Anyway, I have faith that Whedon and Lynch can pull this all together again in the next few issues, and that maybe “First Night” will make more sense once I see the big picture. But speaking for right now, the flashback experiment didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It lasted too long, with not enough pay-off.

Fortunately, Issue #9 comes out today! So things will get back to normal, and we can find out what happens in the Demon Battle Royale, Part 2.