In a series of misadventures ranging from the prehistoric demon age to a nineteenth century ship, with both Angel and Illyria encountering and confronting their past selves, this issue sees the gang reach a conclusion they should have had from the very beginning: they shouldn’t be doing this. Both Fred and Illyria are finally starting to seriously think about what’s happening to the timeline while they’re roaming around and screwing with the past. They have no idea what their actions are causing.
They’ve seen too much and their encounter with Angelus and Darla was the breaking point for Fred to step away from Angel’s mission, noble as it might appear. The risks are too great. It takes a lot for Fred to not follow Angel on a mission he’s dead-set on, but she also knows him pretty well by this point. That’s part of why they make such a great team and why, if only one member of Team Angel has to reunite with him for this comic run, it should be her.
Fred keeps Angel grounded and does it in a way entirely different from Faith, it’s not about a mutual understanding of inner darkness, it’s simply about calling him on his bullshit. And she spends virtually this entire issue doing that.
While it’s great to finally be talking about the fact that what they’re doing to the timeline might be pretty damaging, the talks go on for quite a while and could probably be a little shorter and the point would still be clear. At the same time, that much redundant time travel talk might be necessary to bring the comic to its dramatic conclusion, a reveal that puts this whole time travel arc in context.
When we get there, it’s great. Angel hasn’t necessarily been out-of-character throughout this run, but his motivations haven’t been entirely clear. He’s insisting that their ultimate goal is to go back and stop Angelus from doing something awful that would affect them in the present—shaky ground, yes, but a very similar thing happened in Angel’s fourth season, so it’s not unprecedented.
The big reveal, of course, is that he’s not going back to stop Angelus from doing something. He’s going to stop Angelus from being born. He’s going to stop himself from becoming a vampire.
This is stupid and insanely dangerous on Angel’s part, but it’s also one of the most in-character decisions he’s ever made in the comics. For the first time in this particular series, once Angel gets to this point and everything becomes clear, it feels exactly like the show. This character has been defined by the things he’s done as a soulless vampire from the very beginning, his whole mission has been about atonement. But he’s made some big mistakes along the way and this could very well shape up to be one of them.
This isn’t atonement. This is not just an easy shortcut, it’s essentially suicide. Of course, there’s no way Angel would actually go through with something like this because it would remove him from the Buffy timeline and change literally everything. It’s a wrong decision to make, and it’s doubtful that he’ll make it, but it’s great character work to show him wanting to make it.
WICKED RATING: 7.5/10