Volume one of Angel Season Eleven, titled “Out of the Past,” signals a new direction for our hero. Not only is Faith replaced with Fred, a new/old partner, this series puts time at the forefront in interesting ways. We are treated to all sorts of time devices such as intrusive memories, future vision, and even time travel! It is hard to tell from this single issue how this new direction will go; however, fans of Illyria should be quite happy with volume one at least.
It starts out with Fred and Angel visiting Ireland to perform a “small exorcism” for a friend. While Corinna Bechko’s writing isn’t anything amazing, we do see familiar issues being addressed such as Fred sorting out the ways in which she must share her body with Illyria as well as the classic reference to Angelus as a separate entity from that of Angel. We are teased with yet another classic Angel trope of him being confronted with who he used to be and dealing with the repercussions of those actions, but, instead, it is Illyria’s turn to take on that storyline. This isn’t the most exciting twist, but it is nice to see some further development of Illyria as a character. We also finally get a glimpse into her world when she was the goddess of it! The biggest issue I have with the writing is that the dialogue does not match the characters’ verbal patterns. Similarly, Geraldo Borges’ depiction of them doesn’t match either. With only two main characters it is really important to make sure that they are recognizable. In this case, neither of them look or sound like the characters they are supposed to be.
Largely, the other artistic choices make up for a good amount of these issues. Geraldo Borges grotesque monster deities are very cool, as are the Savage Land like backdrops. Borges is particularly strong when he gives himself the room to include all his little details that can otherwise get lost. There are also some nice mechanical touches such as his use of boxes to track the motion of main characters across the page in these epic scenes. That said, Scott Fischer steals the show with his cover and chapter break art. Each one tells a convincing story all on its own that effectively mirrors the themes in the storyline. They are gorgeously atmospheric and he nails the postures and expressions of Angel, Fred, and Ilyria.
Volume one doesn’t exactly make me want to pick up the next issue, but it is an enjoyable romp that can stand alone so long as one has prior knowledge of the show. I will admit that most of my enjoyment is simply seeing Illyria’s true form and prior home. Even if you don’t plan on following the series, this is worth reading just for those moments. Three Stars!
Writer: Corinna Bechko
Artist: Geraldo Borges
Letterer: Michelle Madsen
Cover Artist: Scott Fischer