Angel: After the Fall #2: First Night
by Joss Whedon, Brian Lynch, various artists (IDW, 2009)

How did they get here from there?

Answering that question is the sole purpose for First Night, the second volume in IDW's Angel: After the Fall series that follows up on the cliffhanger ending of the television series. While the first volume left that question hanging, Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch, working with a varied stable of artists, tie up some loose ends in a short series of one-shot vignettes, each focusing on a major character (except Angel himself, who makes only minor appearances in this book) and, oddly, a random bum and theater employee who run into each other on the day Los Angeles fell into Hell.

So, how does Spike become a champion in Hell? How does Angel's son Connor, who fled the final fight as his father instructed, end up a champion as well -- and what long-unseen character from the series inspires him to do so? How does Lorne become a community leader, and exactly how is Wesley indoctrinated into his new role as Wolfram & Hart spectral go-between? Oh, and how did Gunn become a vampire, and why does he hate Angel so much?

All these questions, and more -- including the fates of Gwen the electric girl, a big psychic fish, a bum and a theater employee -- will be answered here.

Problem is, these short vignettes don't really engross the reader. They're brief, scarce on detail, light on plot and development and, really, just serve as brief reference guides, like a Who's Who of Post-Fall Los Angeles. This book is a bridge and, while it's a bridge you'll need to cross to know what's going on in Angel's world, it's not particularly well-built.

review by
Tom Knapp

17 April 2010

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