Spoilers for those not quite caught up on the comics, but this is technically a spoiler for the previous issue. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way: So, Angel and Illyria had sex. It’s an interesting development. Illyria’s never really been depicted as a sexual being, though she clearly showed a keen interest in Wesley during the show’s fifth season. But out of all of the Buffyverse characters in comics right now, Illyria is unique in that she never really got the chance to develop on the show before it was cancelled. Now that Angel has been off the air since 2004, the bulk of her character development has been found in various ongoing comic series.
She had a major part to play in Angel: After the Fall, popped up in Spike’s short-lived solo book, and then she made an appearance in Buffy Season 9 before finding a more permanent home in the pages of Angel & Faith as it transitioned into Angel. During these appearances, there’s been an ongoing theme of Illyria owning up to the fact that she’s grown steadily more human as she’s spent more time in this era and this body. She’s making peace with the monster that she used to be and acknowledging that those warlike tendencies will probably always be a part of who she is.
Illyria, on the other hand, has always had to deal with wearing the body of the woman she killed and now has to share a body with that person. Her guilt is a very different, sometimes more complicated thing. Angel and Illyria are very old, very powerful, a couple of old samurais whose first instinct is always to cut themselves off. It only makes sense that they would wind up hooking up at some point during their time together.
The best part of this issue is how Fred deals with the situation. She immediately calls Angel out on the fact that this is way harder and weirder for her to deal with than him, given that she had to at least listen to it and the fact that she had such an enormous crush on Angel when she was first introduced on the show. Angel deals with the whole situation spectacularly poorly, but I think that was the intent and it definitely makes sense.
As for the rest of the issue, well, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone that when Angel, Fred and Illyria return to the present it is immediately clear that they’ve kind of screwed up time. That was always so clearly where this story was headed, so it’s something of a relief to finally see it get there, because how they’ve screwed the timeline was always going to be more interesting than the fact that they did it.
Geraldo Borges’ art remains the thing that visually distinguishes this from Buffy books of recent years. It’s a different style that really works with the fantastic elements of this particular storyline. Borges has also gotten very good at capturing the likenesses of the characters when the moment merits—mainly for those very close, emotional moments between characters, which we’ll probably see even more of as we head into the finale.
WICKED RATING: 8/10