You can't keep a good vampire down
The running theme of the series was Angel's quest for redemption. The vampire with a soul had 200 years of murder and mayhem to make up for, so karmically speaking it wasn't so much an uphill struggle as an up-Everest struggle. The series concluded (SPOILER ALERT) with Angel and friends facing off in a dark, rain-soaked alley against literally thousands of opponents. Our hero's final words, as he lifted his sword and rallied his crew, were "Let's go to work," and the screen cut to black. (END SPOILER ALERT) It was a masterstroke by show runner Joss Whedon: the point wasn't redemption, but the fight, the never ending fight that defined "Angel."
Which is why I was a little disappointed to hear Whedon would be bringing the fanged fighter back to life (figuratively speaking ... he is undead, after all) in comic book form, and pick up where the series left off. I, for one, didn't want to know what happened. But, seriously, who cares what I want? Not even I do, apparently, as I recently got my own copy of IDW's "Angel: After the Fall" and hungrily dove in.
And I'm here to say, I wish I hadn't. Some things truly are better off left to our imaginations, and the fate of our nocturnal hero and his gang was one of them. The book itself isn't bad per se -- I'm no comic book expert -- but it has that inevitable feeling of anti-climax that most unnecessary sequels suffer from.
By rather ironic contrast, Dark Horse's new "Buffy: Season Eight" book, which picks up where "Buffy" left off, is freaking fantastic. Maybe it's the lowered expectations brought on by the series' miserable seventh season, but I find myself looking forward to picking up every new issue down at The Great Escape more than I anticipate new episodes of some TV shows. I'll keep picking up the "Angel" book, because I am nothing if not a loyal Whedonite, and hopefully someday it will live up to its small-screen predecessor.
Any other "Buffy"/"Angel" fans out there reading these books? What's your take?
-- Adam Reinhard, email@example.com