So here are my five cents about the new issue
First a word on the artwork: I’m a bit split here. Partly it’s really gorgeous and it sure captures the actors’ likenesses better than Urru does most of the time (except for Gwen and Fred). But on the other hand the artwork is less dynamic and some panels look crude, like they were drawn in a rush. Also sometimes the facial expressions just looked plain weird. All in all I’m good with it and Runge really makes beautiful covers (see icon), but I’m still looking forward to see Urru again on the Spike comic.
On to the story then:
Spike tells us that Illyria has been turning into Fred from time to time now. She has no real control over it and Fred comes with strong emotions. What Illyria tells Wesley about it confirms the speculation that the original Fred was fully restored inside Illyria. Seems like Fred is confused, when she emerges and can’t hold on for long.
Cut to Gunn and his adorable henchmen, one of which is making roleplaying references on Illyria, hee. That first picture of Gunn is one of those that really rocked. I wish Runge could have kept up this style for the whole of the book.
Gunn makes it obvious in his by now usual charming way that he thinks Angel is going to win the battle, but when it looks like Angel is going to loose, Gunn wants to kill him before someone else does. Why? Just revenge, or has it something to do with Gunn’s plan to leave Hell A.? Is it in some way essential that Gunn kills Angel himself? Vamp!Gunn still rules, but I’d really like some answers about him soon. All this leading the reader on with secrets only works for so long.
What I missed from Gunn is a reaction about seeing Fred again. I figured, that would upset him, so either he has some inside information about what happened to her or he doesn’t know that this transformation is different from the ones Illyria did voluntarily.
As the battle come to it’s rather short and surprising solution, several things seemed a bit off to me. Since when does Spike run from a big bang in the battle? He’s usually way more likely to take deadly risks then anyone else. And if he’d like to run, there’s no way he’d admit it to Angel.
And everyone knows what these Hagan shafts are, but no one knew how they worked, except for Gunn and Angel? Seems unlikely, but I’ll just take it as it is for the sake of the plot.
The scene where Connor boiled down his father/son talk to battle speed was totally cute. I like the idea of him and Gwen and I can definitely see weird uncle Spike handing out advice about mutual masturbation and other tricks to work around the no touching issue J . I wonder if Angel’s patented “leave her and brood” solution is going to help Connor much either, though.
After the lords are disposed of, hell breaks loose and Spider joins the battle with her girls on Spike’s side. I’m still a bit confused about them. I was pretty sure they were a bunch of powerful demon girls that picked Spike as their prisoner/mascot/leader for an unknown reason and that they would be mighty pissed at him for going against them regarding Angel. After all he seemed pretty scared about their reaction a few issues ago. That they dislike but accept his decision makes things yet more complex.
Spider and presumably the other girls too are not demons but products of “wiccan tempering” and Spike knows about her fits of passion J. Can’t say I’m surprised. Don’t see her as the new love of his life but looks like they had fun together. What surprised me is that Spike is so sure that they love him. I wonder where this comes from. Why would a whole group of girls fall for Spike simultaneously? Is this another spell/hell thing? I still don’t get why he’s so confident about them, when he was ready to flee out the back door from the girls a few issues ago.
While Lorne extends his reign to the whole of Hell A. the gang returns to the Hyperion, where Angel pulls his little Tom Sawyer trick to get Spike to kick in the door for him. How strong he really is, is still not really clear. If he’s that weak that he can’t break in a door anymore, how could he hold up even for a minute in that battle? But ok, I’m willing to accept that he’s a good fighter and got lucky, yet it still seems to be a bit of a stretch.
The final scene of the issue is between Wesley and Fredlyria.
Illyria tells him about the Fred situation and here comes another sentence that doesn’t make sense to me: “Spike doesn’t let it happen, he locks me away when I get weak. He says he lost me once, he wont lose me again.”
Why would Spike lock her up, when she turns into Fred? Just so he doesn’t have to watch her? That doesn’t sound like Spike at all and hopefully it’s not the real reason. From the sound of it, it might be to keep her save, to hide away her weakness from the demons around them and maybe from Spider and her posse.
Wes is trying to get out of his contract and tried to invoke Cordelia for help (nice detail with the fashion district). He even preserved his body in case they may need it in a ritual. In the end Illyria picks up the corpse, like she’s about to do something with it. God, I hope she doesn’t turn him into zombie Wesley.
On the whole it was a good issue, but not one of the strongest and sadly lacking bigger revelations.