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  • Angel in the Spotlight

    Something has been bothering me recently regarding After the Fall. Angel is the central character and it makes perfect sense that the story is 'All About Angel' but I'm wondering if the story is a bit too narrowly focused on him.

    I was recently watching a fan video about Spike as a character (Black, Black Heart by dualbunny) and it reminded me of my love for the Angel/Spike character interactions of Season 5. The clips from Destiny especially where Spike is challenging and fighting Angel. I think Spike going over to AtS was handled brilliantly and he fit in with the cast and added to the ensemble dynamic. Spike came over to AtS and had an interesting character arc, but he didn't steal the spotlight from Angel. His presence was used to show Angel's internal struggles of that season. He served as a wonderful foil to the main character while also having his own story to tell throughout the season.

    It feels like Spike has been reduced a bit in his interactions with Angel in After the Fall. That's weird to say, I know, considering how Lynch favors writing Spike. But I feel like Angel: After the Fall doesn't use Spike's relationship with Angel and history as effectively as it could or should. And not just Spike, but the other main characters also.

    What are the other characters arcs in After the Fall (not including Spike: AtF)? Are they treated as equally important to Angel's journey?

    AtS to me was an ensemble cast of heroes led by Angel. After the Fall feels more like Angel the hero with his heroic sidekicks. (Willow: "I'm not your sidekick!") I actually find the balance of Spike: After the Fall to be a more fair distribution of power dynamics, of the time and important character action devoted to others. One character's arc that's clear to me is Illyria if (that's a big if) you are also reading Spike: AtF. Her struggle with understanding where she fits in the world is very clear in that four issue arc. I don't think AtF #15 would make as much sense if one hadn't read Spike: AtF. From what I understand, Spike: AtF wasn't originally planned when AtF was plotted out so it smacks a bit of having to go back and add more in an accompanying piece to clarify the main story.

    I'm not sure if I'm expressing this adequately as its more this vague impression that's been bothering me for a while. It also has been vexing me that I'm not sure what the correct reading order of After the Fall should be - where does Spike: After the Fall fit in? Should it be read before AtF #1?

    I just can't escape the impression that certain parts added into AtF were done after the initial planning stages (First Night, Spike: AtF) and that it hurts the overall structure of the story. A part of me feels that Spike: AtF exists to make up for Spike and Illyria's lesser character development and interaction in AtF. Is it because the medium limits the focus of the story? Can a large ensemble work effectively in a comic that basically tells one continuous story following the main character?

    I also have another question for fellow After the Fall fans. What is the unifying theme(s) of Angel: After the Fall?
    Last edited by Emmie; 18-01-09, 11:47 PM.
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  • #2
    I think the theme in ATF is the same as in the tv series;
    "Keep on fighting the good fight, no matter what."

    We see it with every character, they all still fight. Even with big changes like Angel (human), Wesley (ghost) and even Gunn (vampire) still tries to fight the fight. But also going on after losing loved ones.


    About Angel being a lot in the spotlight;

    I've to disagree with you that Ats was a real ensemble show. Look at a season like season 2, that season is about one thing and that's Angel's depression. The other things that happend are minor storylines (Wesley being the leader, Gunn joining etc.). Ats was always a bit more about Angel than (by example) BtVS was about Buffy. In Ats every character is replacable except Angel. And I think that this has a storytelling reason;

    Like I said, the message is about fighting no matter what happens. Angel needs to go on. And sometimes he needs to get over a depression or a corruption. But what's the worst thing you can do to a guy who wants to have a home/family/friends? You must take that away and look if he still fights. Angel is doomed, it doesn't matter what he does. Everything he touches turns into ashes. Everybody he knows dies or leaves and he ends up alone. He can't grow up together with his friends like the scoobies did. We never saw it, but if the show went on much longer, Angel would be younger than Connor and Wesley would be too old to fight, Cordelia maybe marries etc. And that's a bit how Ats works, it's about Angel and the others come and go. Nobody ever stays because that would be 'too easy'.

    About ATF being extremely about Angel;
    There is a lot of story and not so much time. Season 8 has much more space to explore other characters and storylines. ATF doesn't have that luxury. And the moment Joss and Brian decided that ATF had to be about the Shanshu and W&H's punishment for Angel, it would be a very Angel heavy story. Because those things are about Angel alone. Also because it's a big story that they want to tell. For 4 seasons fans were buzy with that Shanshu and it needs to be statifying. It can't be explained in two panels because Angel had his screentime for that issue. Also there is a gigantic mess that needs to be cleaned up, lots of questions as well. It's quite action packed and then chit chat scenes need to be cut I guess. And that's a pity because a part of the show was about the interaction between the characters.

    And for the Spike-lite story;
    I think that they had to made choices. Spike has no real story that is part of the major storyline and it's not his final story (like it is for many other characters). I expect Spike to get more to do in the next series when the cast is smaller and when there is less story. It's probably why Spike:ATF is published (besides the obvious money reasons), to give him a chance to grow and give him something to do.

    The same for Lorne, our green guy has even less to do.


    So, Angel is by far the most important character in the comic. But that's something we hear every single issue. How many times did Angel already said that Hell-LA is because of him. How many times Wesley said that the Shunshu was about Angel and how many tiomes we saw how scared the senior partners are to lose Angel? It's the conclusion of something that was already going on in the whole series. The PtB want Angel and W&H want Angel (both since season 1), those two are maybe the most powerful forces in the world, and they are going for Angel. He is the key in that big apocalypse and ATF deals with that.
    Nina
    and her haircut.
    Last edited by Nina; 19-01-09, 12:34 AM.

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    • #3
      It feels like Spike has been reduced a bit in his interactions with Angel in After the Fall. That's weird to say, I know, considering how Lynch favors writing Spike. But I feel like Angel: After the Fall doesn't use Spike's relationship with Angel and history as effectively as it could or should. And not just Spike, but the other main characters also.
      I agree. In AtF Spike really doesn't any meaningful interaction with Angel at all, and so is rather surplus to requirements when it comes to the storyline really, which is a shame.

      So far Wesley hasn't had much to do, nor Lorne which is another shame considering I was hoping Brian would address the guilt/angst Lorne must have felt after him dispatching Lindsey the way he did.

      So yes, I agree with your view of it all so far.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Nina View Post
        I think the theme in ATF is the same as in the tv series;
        "Keep on fighting the good fight, no matter what."
        That's a theme for the entirety of the series, though. Each season explored different themes other than that. Season 5 is about how fighting in the belly of the beast changes you - the insidious, gray nature of evil and how if you compromise yourself, you let that evil inside. Season 4 was about the twisted nature of dysfunctional families, free will and fighting fate.

        What you stated is one of the main themes of AtS, but each season and each episode explored different facets of those themes and introduced unrelated ones in that battle. What are the other themes of AtF? I can rattle of a dozen or more for Buffy Season 8 that are present in each arc and standalone. What are the themes *specific* to AtF and when are they explored?

        Originally posted by Nina View Post
        And for the Spike-lite story;
        I think that they had to made choices. Spike has no real story that is part of the major storyline and it's not his final story (like it is for many other characters). I expect Spike to get more to do in the next series when the cast is smaller and when there is less story. It's probably why Spike:ATF is published (besides the obvious money reasons), to give him a chance to grow and give him something to do.
        I don't necessarily want more Spike or more page time - I got that in Spike: AtF. What I want is for his actions to be more central to Angel. I think this is partially achieved when Angel demonstrates jealousy over Connor's attachment to Spike in the early issues. But that story thread isn't carried through past that point.

        This is my main complaint. The way the main story is being told means that the supporting cast are pushed to the sidelines. And while it's true that Seasons 1 and 2 were more Angel-centric, once you get to Season 3 the ensemble makes its presence known and we get more Fred-centric, Wes-centric, Cordy-centric and Gunn-centric episodes. It's part of why I favor the Season style of continuing the comics. There's the opportunity for smaller stories within the main storyline that feature the other characters rather than just following Buffy. Other characters get to shine where as in the mini-series/movie style of AtF it's All About Angel All The Time.

        What do you think is the correct reading order of AtF and Spike: AtF? I feel that people would be doing themselves a disservice to understanding AtF (re: Connor, Spike and Illyria's character development) if they didn't read Spike: AtF. Yet Spike: AtF exists in this peculiar accompanying piece and I'm not sure where it fits. And I don't think it's been expressed clearly on where it fits. We read it as it was released, so should newcomers to AtF read S: AtF when...and see, I can't even remember how S:AtF lines up with AtF when it was released? Shouldn't that be made clear for a good story? Isn't reading order something basic that should be fulfilled?

        I still feel that the story of AtF jumps around more in an uncoordinated manner - the First Night stories and Spike: AtF feel like add-ons because Spike, Connor and Illyria's stories weren't made to fit into AtF. Actually, the First night stories feel like an attempt to give us those supporting cast-centric episodes all in once bunch because they couldn't be incorporated into the greater story besides 'So here they are, all piled together in three issues without a unifying theme besides - here's what happened between NFA and AtF #1 - Enjoy!'

        Originally posted by sueworld View Post
        So far Wesley hasn't had much to do, nor Lorne which is another shame considering I was hoping Brian would address the guilt/angst Lorne must have felt after him dispatching Lindsey the way he did.

        So yes, I agree with your view of it all so far.
        Yes, Lorne and Wes' development is lacking imo. Wes is Angel's ghostly assistant, but how has Wes grown or changed in AtF? Recall Spike's struggle with his ghostly state in Season 5 and then compare it to Wes. The only exploration is that Wes takes Illyria to where his body lies and has her carry it back - a great moment to be sure, but necessarily brief because of the continuous story format. The character arcs feel incomplete.
        Last edited by Emmie; 19-01-09, 12:58 AM.
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        • #5
          I would read Spike:ATF after First Night and before the real story of Angel:ATF. Which must be the correct order timewise. In First Night Spike finds Fred/Illyria and in Spike:ATF they are already a team. But it's before what happens in ATF #1.

          About the theme of ATF. I'm not sure if there is a real theme besides the obvious theme of the whole series. I think that ATF is all about that 'keep on fighting' theme. Maybe that they have to deal with their mistakes? But that's not really unique for Ats either.



          About Ats being an ensemble show or all about Angel;
          I still think that it's not a real ensemble show even when it changed slightly in the last seasons. Still every character can be replaced but Angel, which is for me the reason to say that Ats is really about Angel, and not about Cordy or Wesley as well. Even is they played big roles in it. Maybe I should say that the series is about Angel and his team, no matter who are in the team?

          But I agree that ATF is really Angel heavy. Only I think that it's needed to make it this Angel heavy due the lack of space and the big story that is told. W&H don't care about Wesley -they use him but he is just a tool-, Lorne or Spike. The PtB don't care about Connor or Gunn. They only care about Angel, that's something we saw very early on in Ats. And that storyline get finally it's pay off. And ATF is only about that story. ATF is not about the relations and the feelings. There is not only no Angel/Spike or Angel/Wesley, there is no Angel/Nina, no Angel/Connor, no Angel/Lorne or time for the other relations. Because they don't matter for the story that is told, this is a fight between Angel and W&H. A fight we were waiting for since 'City of ...'. And yes it's all about Angel, but I think that it would be wrong if it was not just Angel (with some help of friends) against W&H.

          And it's sad that there is no real development for some characters, especially Wesley because this is probably his last story. Actually I think that Wesley's story is the only one that is really not very well done.

          Aftermath is probably more about the feelings and relations. At least that's my guess.
          Nina
          and her haircut.
          Last edited by Nina; 19-01-09, 01:20 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Nina View Post
            I would read Spike:ATF after First Night and before the real story of Angel:ATF. Which must be the correct order timewise. In First Night Spike finds Fred/Illyria and in Spike:ATF they are already a team. But it's before what happens in ATF #1.
            But doing that really undercuts the set-up of the first few issues where Angel discovers that Spike is working with Connor. Plus reading of how Gunn is a vampire in First Night spoils the reveal in the first few issues of AtF. Now that reading order might work for people who've already read the series, but what about newcomers to the series? It doesn't quite work right and doesn't it bother you a bit that it's not the order we got to read it all in?

            Originally posted by Nina View Post
            About the theme of ATF. I'm not sure if there is a real theme besides the obvious theme of the whole series. I think that ATF is all about that 'keep on fighting' theme. Maybe that they have to deal with their mistakes? But that's not really unique for Ats either.
            I just feel like AtF is lacking thematic and symbolic depth that's been present in past seasons. There have been some incredibly powerful moments and scenes - Lynch can break your heart or make you bust out laughing. But I'm missing that common thread, those lines that say 'this is what it's all about, kids'. Perhaps I'm overestimating my ability to read themes, but I've asked other fans and they've never been able to give me a satisfactory answer. I think it speaks to AtF being more plot-driven and less concerned with the themes.

            I'm actually hoping someone will prove me wrong in this because I'd love to read an essay exploring the themes of AtF and how they're laid out in #1 and continue through #17. Or explain how First Night's placement actually works to make AtF's story stronger. Or when Spike: AtF is supposed to be read in relation to AtF.

            Originally posted by Nina View Post
            And it's sad that there is no real development for some characters, especially Wesley because this is probably his last story. Actually I think that Wesley's story is the only one that is really not very well done.
            Yes, true. It's almost criminal to bring Wesley back after that powerfully beautiful death scene only to have him stand around not doing much at all. And it's really a bad end because Wesley has an incredibly character arc from when he first appeared on Buffy all the way through NFA. It reminds me of how Nina just disappeared during the middle of the battle starting in #5 and hasn't been around much since. I don't think the supporting cast is being used to showcase them properly. They're taking up space, not doing much that we can see and at times disappear completely from the narrative.
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            • #7
              First - WOW! Great video! I am such a fan of Spike and his coat!

              I agree Emmie for the most part. My biggest criticism at the beginning of A:ATF was the lack of sensivity portrayed in the Spike character in early writings of the comics. For a vampire with a soul I just wasn't getting in touch with that new found "conscience" he was supposed to have.

              Yes - Lynch did a very good job writing "playboy Spike". However, I thought after S5 of Angel there should be more substance to the character than Lynch was portraying.

              I've taken back some of my criticism due to the - I would say... - back half of this A:ATF - which also includes S:ATF. Yes, more was covered in S:ATF but I have seen nuances of a new - dare I say - friendship between Angel and Spike.

              The whole issue where Spike learns that Angel is human is chock-full of Angels insights into Spike's thoughts. And even recently, when Wesley is all about getting on with the battle, it's Spike who pretty much tells the ghost to back off and let the man grieve the death of his son.

              And it's Angel who turns to Spike to lead the army.

              But you are correct in saying that he has taken somewhat of a backseat more in this comic. There was more interaction from him in S5 Angel.

              I do hope Lynch goes out with Spike in a new series. I think it would do so well!!
              -TP<3
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              • #8
                Eh, seriously? I mean Spike’s the only character out of 'After the Fall' to get his own mini series in the comics and people are still complaining that he's under used? He got more dedicated to him than any other character in Angel's team and his fans still complain? Be happy....

                …. If Spike gets’ less story in ‘After the Fall’ so be it, he got plenty of story in his own series. I think it makes perfect sense to give other characters some preference in ‘After the Fall’ when Spike had those four issues dedicated solely to him, you gotta spread around the attention. The one I’d say got the worst luck was Wes if I had to pick a character, he’s the one with huge potential who’s kinda just been standing around in the background a lot these days. And don't get me started on Lorne, Wes or Spike pfftt.. Lorne's barley had a single thing to do.

                As far as the Angel/Spike friendship goes, I don't know why people wouldn't be happy with it? I think they've had some terrific moments, in particular Spike understanding his need to be alone with Connor and when they fight side by side against the previous lords of LA.

                As for it being too Angel focused? Well he is the main character of the series so I'm really not worried about that, I think he should be the central character to the story, as should Buffy for her own series. After spending a lot of time dragging his character through the muck in the fifth season and showing him in a very grey light I think it's a nice change to show him off in all his heroic glory again. Angel's a great character to show the grey sides of morality but then I think they focused on that a little too much in the final season, I'm glad he's being shown off as the hero he can be again.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Emmie View Post
                  But doing that really undercuts the set-up of the first few issues where Angel discovers that Spike is working with Connor. Plus reading of how Gunn is a vampire in First Night spoils the reveal in the first few issues of AtF. Now that reading order might work for people who've already read the series, but what about newcomers to the series? It doesn't quite work right and doesn't it bother you a bit that it's not the order we got to read it all in?
                  The order we did read it in, bothered me more to be honest. The First Night issues annoyed the hell out of me because I wanted back to the big story. I don't know, but before reading the first issue, I wanted to know what happened the 'first night' only the moment the series started I was no longer interested and even disliked the FN stories at times. So I think that it's better to read those when you still want to read those. That a minor reveal like the Connor & Spike team up is than revealed is not really a big problem. And it won't spoil the Angel = human reveal. Which is the only one that really shouldn't be revealed.

                  I just feel like AtF is lacking thematic and symbolic depth that's been present in past seasons. There have been some incredibly powerful moments and scenes - Lynch can break your heart or make you bust out laughing. But I'm missing that common thread, those lines that say 'this is what it's all about, kids'. Perhaps I'm overestimating my ability to read themes, but I've asked other fans and they've never been able to give me a satisfactory answer. I think it speaks to AtF being more plot-driven and less concerned with the themes.

                  I'm actually hoping someone will prove me wrong in this because I'd love to read an essay exploring the themes of AtF and how they're laid out in #1 and continue through #17. Or explain how First Night's placement actually works to make AtF's story stronger. Or when Spike: AtF is supposed to be read in relation to AtF.
                  Again, I think that ATF not being a season is one of the reasons that there is no new theme. ATF is no time to build up something and to introduce the new big bad with a nice new theme etc. ATF is cleaning up the mess of NFA in 17 issues. I think that it's unfair to compare it to a season that starts almost blanc (like season 8 did or any other seasons ATF or BtVS). ATF had to explain us what happened after only the 4 remaining team members were facing death because they pissed of ancient demons. And all that in 17 issues.

                  On the other side the original theme of Ats was never this strong in any story of Ats (maybe in Reprise/Epiphany). That counts for something I guess.

                  Yes, true. It's almost criminal to bring Wesley back after that powerfully beautiful death scene only to have him stand around not doing much at all. And it's really a bad end because Wesley has an incredibly character arc from when he first appeared on Buffy all the way through NFA. It reminds me of how Nina just disappeared during the middle of the battle starting in #5 and hasn't been around much since. I don't think the supporting cast is being used to showcase them properly. They're taking up space, not doing much that we can see and at times disappear completely from the narrative.
                  I believe that Brian stated that he had to cut (some?) Nina scenes. I would like see all the scenes and ideas that didn't make it because of the lack of space. My guess is that there would be a lot more supporting cast action.

                  And giving every supporting cast member a proper story doesn't just eat space but it's also a bit confusing to remember what they are doing. Fred/Illyria has quite her story and the same for Gunn. Wesley is the only character that I wanted to see more of because like you said there is no indication what he feels in the major part of ATF. But besides Wesley, I've no real questions about the feelings or doings of other characters. And I think that it's okay to shove some supporting characters out of the picture to tell a good story. Like I already said in another post; nothing would be as crappy as Angel's storyline (the major story with W&H, shanshu and apocalypse) being cut for a part just to see Nina helping people or to see Lorne being the Major.
                  Nina
                  and her haircut.
                  Last edited by Nina; 19-01-09, 12:10 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
                    Eh, seriously? I mean Spike’s the only character out of 'After the Fall' to get his own mini series in the comics and people are still complaining that he's under used? He got more dedicated to him than any other character in Angel's team and his fans still complain? Be happy....
                    Superficially, it's satisfying. Just. Spike snarks, Angel snarks, Angel gets jealous of Spike, Spike helps in the fight. There's plot moments, some good character moments. But no unifying theme for the characters interactions, nothing new or groundbreaking. I *love* - allow me to say it again so it's even clearer - LOVE Spike: After the Fall. I've been singing it's praises since the day it was released. It's one of my favorite arcs from Buffy or Angel. No question, it's fantastic. But my problem is that story had to be told in an accompanying piece where I'm so damned confused where it's supposed to fit into the greater story.

                    Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
                    …. If Spike gets’ less story in ‘After the Fall’ so be it, he got plenty of story in his own series. I think it makes perfect sense to give other characters some preference in ‘After the Fall’ when Spike had those four issues dedicated solely to him, you gotta spread around the attention. The one I’d say got the worst luck was Wes if I had to pick a character, he’s the one with huge potential who’s kinda just been standing around in the background a lot these days. And don't get me started on Lorne, Wes or Spike pfftt.. Lorne's barley had a single thing to do.
                    But see, that's my problem that you just explained. I didn't limit this to Spike. The thread is titled "Angel in the Spotlight". I was just using Spike as an example, but I'm also unhappy with the character arcs for Wes and Lorne, too. What's more, if you've never read Spike: After the Fall then the arcs for Illyria, Spike, Connor and Gunn are also damaged. The story narrative jumps around in a confusing manner - I'd rather have *one* narrative that fits together seamlessly.

                    Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
                    As far as the Angel/Spike friendship goes, I don't know why people wouldn't be happy with it? I think they've had some terrific moments, in particular Spike understanding his need to be alone with Connor and when they fight side by side against the previous lords of LA.
                    Moments. Character moments that don't metaphorically or thematically extend past the significant look or the snarky joke. I expect more of ANGEL.

                    Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
                    As for it being too Angel focused? Well he is the main character of the series so I'm really not worried about that, I think he should be the central character to the story, as should Buffy for her own series. After spending a lot of time dragging his character through the muck in the fifth season and showing him in a very grey light I think it's a nice change to show him off in all his heroic glory again. Angel's a great character to show the grey sides of morality but then I think they focused on that a little too much in the final season, I'm glad he's being shown off as the hero he can be again.
                    My point is that I don't want Angel in the spotlight to the exclusion and detriment of the other characters' arcs. Angel can still have half of the pie, just as long as each supporting character gets a piece too.

                    Mogs, my criticism isn't that I want to see more Spike but for him (and other characters like Wes and Lorne) to be used in better ways. Spike was used in Season 5 as a foil for Angel's internal struggles. He served as a metaphor. Well, to me the metaphor of After the Fall doesn't exist. It's just W&H torturing Angel through his friends and I'm beginning to suspect that nearly everyone is going to die so that Angel will be alone with that smaller cast Armstrong speaks of in Aftermath.

                    I'm not saying there haven't been some great character moments between Angel and Spike, but that the layered depth of the narrative has disappointed me now that we're nearing the end. I'm also sadly wondering if some of the supporting characters' arcs were only laid out so that they all end in their deaths. I hope not. But I can't escape the feeling that most of them are not getting out of this. I feel like the supporting characters arcs aren't as significant because they're going to die.

                    The thing I loved about AtS was that Angel finally found a family and it feels like that family is being gutted. Sure, it makes for a tragic and hellish story. But will I still want to read on after this? I'm not sure. I probably will because I want to know what happens but I'm really worried about the direction of the story post-After the Fall. I'm missing the metaphor and thematic layers that I get in abundance at Season 8 in every issue (which admittedly has its own story issues).

                    [QUOTE=Nina;326957]Again, I think that ATF not being a season is one of the reasons that there is no new theme. ATF is no time to build up something and to introduce the new big bad with a nice new theme etc. ATF is cleaning up the mess of NFA in 17 issues. I think that it's unfair to compare it to a season that starts almost blanc (like season 8 did or any other seasons ATF or BtVS).

                    I'm sorry, but I just don't buy that as a good reason. That's like saying the Spike movie they were planning back in the day would have no new theme. Just because it's not a seasonal style doesn't give it the excuse to not explore new areas. And to a large extent, every season works on "cleaning up the mess" of the past season. What's more, the enemy here is W&H - the same enemy Angel has had throughout the entire series. So there's always been a bit of a static nature with the series keeping the main theme and the main enemy. But the difference was explored in how Angel and Co. were affected.

                    Originally posted by Nina View Post
                    ATF had to explain us what happened after only the 4 remaining team members were facing death because they pissed of ancient demons. And all that in 17 issues.
                    And Spike: After the Fall has more themes and symbolism in 4 issues. The thematic thread has been lost for me and 17 issues is more than enough time and space for a theme to make itself known. If AtF is only "explaining" and not reinterpreting and enlightening, than it's not doing enough imo. What is the lesson? What is the moral?

                    If you're telling a story in the Whedonverse, it should be rich with thematic material. Every inch of it should be covered in themes and symbolism. That's Whedon's stamp on his stories just as much as his trademark humor and word play.

                    Originally posted by Nina View Post
                    I believe that Brian stated that he had to cut (some?) Nina scenes. I would like see all the scenes and ideas that didn't make it because of the lack of space. My guess is that there would be a lot more supporting cast action.
                    If the action were important enough, it wouldn't be available to cut. Would Fred becoming Illyria be cuttable? Just look at the equality of action during Not Fade Away and compare it to After the Fall. Each character played a vital role. It seems to me that the only vital character in After the Fall is Angel. To a lesser extent, Gunn and Illyria who ultimately play villains to be defeated by Angel. Everyone else feels a bit expendable in terms of character development. Why even have Nina in this piece if she's not going to do anything important (seriously, what has she done for the main storyline?) or have significant character growth.


                    Originally posted by Nina View Post
                    And giving every supporting cast member a proper story doesn't just eat space but it's also a bit confusing to remember what they are doing. Fred/Illyria has quite her story and the same for Gunn. Wesley is the only character that I wanted to see more of because like you said there is no indication what he feels in the major part of ATF. But besides Wesley, I've no real questions about the feelings or doings of other characters. And I think that it's okay to shove some supporting characters out of the picture to tell a good story. Like I already said in another post; nothing would be as crappy as Angel's storyline (the major story with W&H, shanshu and apocalypse) being cut for a part just to see Nina helping people or to see Lorne being the Major.
                    That's fine. Cut Nina (not you! ) out and give her page time to Wes. Remember how #10 opens with Nina fetching Angel. Give that to Wes and have them talk meaningful as best friends do. Or have Lorne actually play a role in the past six issues. Lorne being cast aside would have been fine if this were still Season 2 and he only showed up periodically. But he was in nearly every episode of Season 5 and he played an important part in NFA. It feels like bringing Lorne back lessened his reaction to what he did to Lindsey. I'd almost rather that Lorne remained pissed at Angel for what he'd done instead of him being back to play lord savior who sings kumbaya and brings the gang back for the fight in AtF #5, then becomes forgettable past his story in First Night.

                    I'm disappointed that AtF has brought characters back without properly using them. The Whedonverse is character-driven and thematic-driven. Plots are created to drive these character interactions - How to make Buffy cry? How to make Wes betray Angel? How to make each character interact in significant ways that shapes and changes their sense of self and their relationships with each other? How to make the characters grow? Instead, it feels to me like AtF is plot-driven.


                    ***And wow, this was an epically long post because this has been bothering me for a while.
                    Last edited by Emmie; 19-01-09, 05:50 PM.
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                    • #11
                      I guess that we look different to the comics and expect different things.

                      But different question;
                      Which themes (that have nothing to do with 'keep on fighting') are there in the tv series? And which themes are there in Spike:ATF?

                      I compare Angel:ATF with a rollercoaster. In a short time there happens a lot and all you can do is sit it out and wait what happenens. You've no idea what really happens until the rollercoaster stops. And not until it stops you think about what happens. I think that, if the structure works good, Aftermath will deal with a lot of things that happened in ATF on the emotional level.

                      I saw the complained that Angel never dealed with his jealousy because Connor and Spike were friends. My question is; when should he have dealed with that? When he was finding Gunn? When he was almost dead? When Illyria tried to wipe it all out? Or when Connor died?

                      It's the rollercoaster feeling, there is no time for emotions or to sit somewhere and have a good conversation. Don't forget that the real story of ATF happens in only some days. Some crazy days in hell.

                      ATF is written out of Angel's perspective, he is the storyteller. We read how he feels and learn what is going on because we read his thoughts. It's a decent storytelling devise. We're never confused who is doing the voice over and we get to see the 'adventures' of the major player and main character. So yes, it gives a bit the 'All.About.Angel' vibe. But I have no trouble with it, it would confuse and annoy me when we left that big main story every time to go back to a minor storyline. Or when we saw it from the perspective of every single character.

                      Doesn't mean that I don't want to see the perspectives of other characters, I do think that the balance is a bit different but I don't think that it is as bad as you see it. Wesley doesn't talk a lot about his feelings, but he never did. Maybe we will see some scene with Wesley. There were good scenes between Wesley & Spike and Wesley & Illyria. Scenes with Connor & Spike, Spike & Illyria and of course a bit Gwen & Connor. Gunn has the best storyline he ever had, the same for Illyria. Lorne is the only character who is underused, but I can't say that this is something that never happened before. Again I've to say that it only takes place in some days. There are no gigantic stories for every character in those days.

                      And I keep with my original standpoint, Ats is about Angel. If Wesley and Gunn leave on the end of the comic, Lorne is than (besides Angel of course) the character who is already there for the longest time. Which says a lot, Ats doesn't keep a group together. It changes every time. And don't forget that Wesley and Gunn were already history in NFA (well Gunn was on his way). And Fred was already dead before that, the same for Cordelia. And Lorne didn't want to be part of it anymore. It's not like ATF killed the whole supporting cast of. The only big shocking death in ATF is Connor. I think that Wesley will play a big role (don't forget that the series is not finished yet and W&H were pretty convinced that Wesley would be the reason that they would win.), Gunn had an amazing story and Fred/Illyria was a good story as well. They weren't just brought back to fill the panels behind Angel. Lorne has his little tiny winy arc about responsibility and only Nina is really there to fill up the pages. So maybe she is the only character that maybe wasn't needed. On the other side, I like that she was there and I hope she stays. It's a great start for a new teammember.

                      About the lessons of ATF:

                      ATF is the answer on NFA's question. This is what can happen when you make a plan that hurts the big bad guys. And it's up to the characters (and to us as well). Was that shiny moment in NFA worth it? Or was it a mistake to do it? What if you are punished for your own morals? Should you keep believing? Should you give up and be like everybody else?

                      And also resposibility, there is a reason why some characters pointed at Angel and told him that this was all his fault. Is it Angel's fault? Or was Angel right when he said that they were all to blame? Who is taking responsibility and who isn't?

                      H? look, I found themes! *yay*
                      Nina
                      and her haircut.
                      Last edited by Nina; 20-01-09, 12:19 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Emmie View Post
                        If you're telling a story in the Whedonverse, it should be rich with thematic material. Every inch of it should be covered in themes and symbolism. That's Whedon's stamp on his stories just as much as his trademark humor and word play.
                        Word. I'm waiting to the end to come to my final assessment, but AtF has been disappointing. For the reasons you give here. And I'd add because the moral depth and complexity is gone. You'd never guess from AtF that NFA seriously called into question whether or not Angel was doing the right thing. Drogyn seems not to have been murdered. Lorne wasn't really destroyed by agreeing to execute Lindsey. Mindwipe Schmindschwipe. Nobody is bothered by it.

                        The series gave us the arresting thought that THE apocalypse is life as we know it. This is a direct challenge to the ordinary understanding of apocalypse in stories about superheroes. It raised all sorts of questions about how you are supposed to understand "heroes" when they are suddenly transposed into the world as it is, not the world where "evil" is an external force to be defeated. So what's Lynch done with it? Based on what we've seen so far, he's saying that there's yet some worse apocalypse that Angel might well percipitate. Well, that walks back the super-cool move of the last half of season 5, and indeed, completely misses how cool it was.

                        If someone can give you some good meta on AtF let me know. But I just see it as a small work. And I really have a hard time seeing it as "canon" as a result. Yeah, the authors can say this is what "really" happens to the characters going forward. And if all you care about is the story, then that's enough. But how can it be "canon" when it hasn't got anything like the thematic depth that the series had? And even undermines the depth of the series if we take it seriously?

                        It's possible that the last two issues will remedy all of this. I held out hope for as long as I could. But when Lorne got his groove back (i.e. whitewashing one of the darkest moments of NFA), I started to think that it was unlikely that we were going to get anywhere interesting -- and nothing since has made me change my mind.
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                        • #13
                          If someone can give you some good meta on AtF let me know. But I just see it as a small work. And I really have a hard time seeing it as "canon" as a result. Yeah, the authors can say this is what "really" happens to the characters going forward. And if all you care about is the story, then that's enough. But how can it be "canon" when it hasn't got anything like the thematic depth that the series had? And even undermines the depth of the series if we take it seriously?
                          Thing is thats exactly my argument as to why I dislike season 8.

                          AtF hasn't had the ability to go incredibly in depth because it had a very limited run compared the rambling season 8 which will be going on for what, two years when it finally wraps up? It doesn't compare really, and yet I still prefer AtF (flaws and all) then season 8.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sueworld View Post
                            Thing is thats exactly my argument as to why I dislike season 8.
                            But I think there's a lot of good meta out there on Season 8. Not saying mine is good, but I've been able to write meta on every arc and issue so far. But especially on Joss' arcs and issues and most recently, Jane Espenson's.

                            Originally posted by sueworld View Post
                            AtF hasn't had the ability to go incredibly in depth because it had a very limited run compared the rambling season 8 which will be going on for what, two years when it finally wraps up?
                            My problem is that AtF isn't even bothering to go to that depth. 17 issues is enough time to go there. It never happened.

                            Originally posted by sueworld View Post
                            It doesn't compare really, and yet I still prefer AtF (flaws and all) then season 8.
                            And a lot of people do - personal choice. But I find that AtF doesn't really make me think about it after reading it. Season 8 and the issues it explores is more powerful to me. And to me, my fandom love is hugely defined by how the Buffyverse is more deep than any other show and explores issues that most TV shows wouldn't even bother to touch. Jane Espenson made me think more in her one issue than AtF. Mostly, AtF makes me wonder who's going to die next.
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                            • #15
                              I think I've got a theme... a themelet, at least. I thought of it when I read Issue #15.

                              "Be careful who you pretend to be, because in the end you are who you pretend to be."

                              All the major characters in "Angel: After the Fall" are pretending to be something they're not. And for each of them, it leads to disaster in some way or another.

                              Angel -- a human pretending to be a vampire. A fallen hero trying to remember how to be a hero.

                              Illyria -- an ancient demon pretending to be a coquettish nerd from Texas.

                              Gunn -- a monster pretending to be a man, a demon pretending to be a hero.

                              Spike -- pretending to be caretaker to a good friend, and not just a zookeeper for a powerful demon.

                              Gwen -- a desperate woman pretending to be an ally.

                              Nina -- pretending to be standing by her man when she knows it's not happening (at least right now)

                              Connor may have been the only one who was true to his nature.

                              Angel's epiphany in Issue #15 is that people are still what they truly are no matter how much they want to be something else -- Illyria isn't Fred. The vampire Gunn isn't Gunn.
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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
                                .

                                Angel's epiphany in Issue #15 is that people are still what they truly are no matter how much they want to be something else -- Illyria isn't Fred. The vampire Gunn isn't Gunn.
                                Not to be snarky, but this themelet is about as interesting as the themelet from Shadow Puppets: People need people. That worked for SP, cause that was comedy. But good drama does not have a cliche as its major theme.

                                By contrast Harmonic Divergence asks us to think harder about how we distinguish villains from heroes; how that distinction can be spun; how the very story itself might be spinning it in ways that are not so obvious. It reminds us of the big theme (Wolfie identified this way back) of whether demons or vampires are "metaphors" and therefore slayable or persons, in which case it's ooky in the extreme to slay them. You could write a long essay on it.

                                The great themes in Whedon's work are always ambiguous. That's why there's so much controversy. That's why we're still talking about it. I haven't seen any argument about the greater significance of what's happening in AtF. The first half seemed to be devoted to the theme in Shadow Puppets, that Angel needs to accept help form his friends. Well, sure. It's good to accept help from friends. Tell me something I don't already know. Or make me think harder about what I think I already know.

                                And that gets to the heart of my objection which is that we can argue for a very, very long time about NFA, what it means, whether Angel is a hero or a villain, how the metaphor of the senior partners works. Lynch is drawing up the bridge to those discussions. The dark side of what Angel was doing has been whitewashed (Lorne got over it, Drogyn not mentioned, Connor and everyone else not remotely troubled by what it means to have breen mindwiped). The very interesting metaphor of the senior partners seems to have been lost, etc. etc.

                                Oh, yeah, and complex, tense relationships are getting squashed too. The really interesting story about Connor and Angel gets reduced to: Connor is now the perfect son, completely accepting of his father, and isn't it tragic that Angel lost his perfect son. To which I say, yes, very sad. But we're not going to argue about how that relationship works, are we? One of the last thing pre-mindwipe Connor said to his father is that you can't save anyone with a lie. Well, it seems Angel did. Connor is made whole. With a lie. That's interesting. But we aren't thinking about it here. Much less any of the complex mix of love and antagonism that stands between a father and a son. Or the way Angel's relationship with Spike reflects and comments on Angel's relationship with Connor. Or, or, or.

                                Unless a better reader can come and show me what I'm missing, it seems to me that AtF is systematically destroying everything I found so compelling about AtS. It might be a fun action-packed story. But there's nothing more than that so far as I can see.
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                                • #17
                                  That reminds me of something Giles said, King... In the end, we all are who we are, no matter how much we may appear to have changed.

                                  I really haven't had one single complaint against ATS, after the fall. I think Spike has gotten a lot more than a lot of the other characters. I never expected him to be highlighted the way Angel is. In fact, had it turned into the Spike show, rather than Angel, I would have been very disappointed.

                                  A character that deserved more story and hasn't got it yet would be Wes, imo. He's a wonderful character who hasn't had much of a story in comparrison to Spike, Illyria, etc... The relationship between Wes and Angel is way more interesting to me than any of the other relationship with Angel, now that Connor is gone.

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by cheryl4ba View Post
                                    I really haven't had one single complaint against ATS, after the fall. I think Spike has gotten a lot more than a lot of the other characters. I never expected him to be highlighted the way Angel is. In fact, had it turned into the Spike show, rather than Angel, I would have been very disappointed.

                                    A character that deserved more story and hasn't got it yet would be Wes, imo. He's a wonderful character who hasn't had much of a story in comparrison to Spike, Illyria, etc... The relationship between Wes and Angel is way more interesting to me than any of the other relationship with Angel, now that Connor is gone.
                                    I think my original post might have been a bit too misleading. I don't think Spike should be in center stage but that he should be used more effectively to make Angel question himself. All the people surrounding Spike seem to be just there for the action - they aren't pushing Angel to reflect on his mission or what's going on. It's just 'Here's the Problem' -> 'Here's the Solution' -> 'Yay Team!'

                                    I think Maggie said it best - AtF is an action-packed story but its lacking thematic depth. Sorry to say the only theme being offered in this thread was by King and it was a bit theme-lite.
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                                    • #19
                                      I actually think Nina gave a pretty good example of what the theme is. Angel is screwed regardless. He fights because it's the right thing to do. All he really can do.

                                      If I had to assign ATS a number value, I give it a 10. It's exciting and angsty. The characters have remained within character. The Journey has been amazing. I really can't say anything negative about it.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by cheryl4ba View Post
                                        I actually think Nina gave a pretty good example of what the theme is. Angel is screwed regardless. He fights because it's the right thing to do. All he really can do.
                                        But that's a universal theme of the 'verse that extends to Buffy also. Themes specific to each season take these bigger themes and explore them in more depth, looking at the different facets and their ambiguous ramifications.
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