We caught up with Mariah and David for another in our series of micro interviews. The first two questions are pretty vague but the third contains a rather large spoiler so I'm actually blacking out the whole thing. Scroll over the text to read it. Seriously. It's so good that I've actually kept the review (which you'll find below) almost completely spoiler free for once. So. Here we are, then. Interview first!
David Tischman: That's funny, because I don't know what Bill's plan was. I would say, we're using and integrating some of the elements Bill had been tinkering with, but totally in our own way. The story we're telling is 100% based on conversations Mariah and I had, about what the fans love about ANGEL, and about where we wanted to take the characters. My inspiration is always the TV series. Specifically, Season 1 and Season 5. That's where I wanted to take these issues. Keep the themes from those seasons in mind, make the characters' voices authentic, and that's ANGEL. And I think we're there.
Mariah Huehner: What we mostly did was take plot points I'd discussed with Bill, specifically around the Sisterhood and James, and then maneuvered them to get us where we knew the characters needed to be for the last arc. We deviated a lot, in the sense that we had the end game to plan for, so we really needed the story to go a certain way and end up where it does. Bill set up so much, and if we'd had the time, there were a lot of threads I would have loved to develop and explore more. But the reality is, we had to very quickly set up the last arc. And most of it was really getting to #38 and making sure that the emotional moments felt true and earned. Which I hope they do.
Buffyfest: Connor's evolution took a surprising turn this issue. Will it play out further in the final arc? What is Team Connor going to get up to while Angel is in the future
David Tischman: Connor's evolution--your word, not mine--isn't over. So, yeah, there's more to come. That kind of power is scary and unpredictable, and it freaks people out. I think we hit all of that. By paring down the number of people bouncing around the panels on each page, we're going to be able to focus on character, and relationships. And the evil in the world. Some good action. And a change of address.
Buffyfest: That moment on the roof with Connor and Angel was huge. Can you tell us how that idea evolved and what it's inspiration was?
David Tischman: Look…there's only so many times you can tell the same story. Or hit the same beat. How long have we been dancing around this, "I don't know how to talk to my son" bit? And, frankly, at this point, Angel should be more evolved than that. We also need to move the story forward. Mariah and I talked about it, and we agreed that it was time for that conversation on the roof. The fallout from that conversation pushes Angel and Connor--both--to pursue their individual stories in this last arc.
Mariah Huehner: The inspiration was kind of their entire relationship up until this point. Connor and Angel have this tendency to take a step forward, and then like 10 back. So, we really wanted to define them as father and son and what that means to Angel. The other moment I thought about a lot was at the end of ATF, when Angel meets Connor after the dial back. There was a bit of mirroring it, emotionally anyway, and we wanted it to feel "big". That this was an important, defining place that they've reached. Everything in our last arc comes out of this moment, so, it really had to matter and it really had to make the reader -feel- the way they did when watching the show. We wanted people to feel the bittersweetness that's at the heart of pretty much all of Angel (the show and the character), all the hardship he's been through with Connor, how difficult it is for him as a father. I think Connor brings out the humanity in Angel. So hopefully we accomplished that on some level. It's always so hard when you're dealing with the page because actors are what make emotional moments work on screen. They bring that other level to it. But hopefully we managed to do that a little here.
With that pesky interview business out of the way... onto the review!
The Preamble: It's been just shy of a year since Bill Willingham's arc began and, this Wednesday, we'll finally see his story come to a close. At times controversial, this season saw Connor take center stage, Spike struggle with soul difficulties, and Angel get bored. We saw some new faces, some goodies turned out to be baddies, and not everyone made it out alive. With Connor's life (and all of L.A.) hanging in the balance, Angel and co. stand fast as they begin their final battle with the Sisterhood of the Jaro Hull.
The Plot: I've been told that I spoil far too much in these reviews so I shall keep this brief and only give away a little. The preview, which you've seen, shows Angel and Illyria attempting a rescue of the very much alive (for now, anyway) Connor. Just as the Sisterhood takes up arms, Spike and the rest of the team turn up in the nick of time. There's a battle, a revelation concerning Connor's "evolution", and then we find ourselves back on the top of a building, Angel looking tired. What happens there I will not spoil but I will say that it was, to me, beautiful and long overdue. We end with a new paradigm and the return of an old enemy.
The Review: You know, I've heard people say that IDW ought to be taking notes from Dark Horse on how to properly portray Spike. Frankly, I think it's Dark Horse who should be picking up a copy of this issue for a refresher course on who Angel is. After a long time of Angel taking the back seat, he is, without question, the focus of this issue and, as we already know, going to be the focus for the story moving forward. Quite simply, this is the best Angel has been written in the five years he's been at IDW. He felt so real to me and the scene with him on the roof was so palpable, that I am not ashamed to admit that I shed a few (very manly) tears. Outside of that I have the same complaint that I will always have about the IDW comics: like the second half of Angel Season 5, the story moves too fast and not as much as I'd like gets explained. I never quite understood why the Sistrhood of the Jaro Hull were such a threat and I wish I had a better understanding of Connor's evolution. It also feels like not a lot actually happened in this issue even though, by the end of it, everything is different. Ultimately, though, the emotional punch more than makes up for the flaws.
Angel #38 hits stores today!