NORMAN, Okla. —
In May 2004, Joss Whedon’s “Angel” was canceled by the WB.
Yeah, it was a dumb move, and like most things TV executives decide to do, it made no sense.
For the first time since 1997, there was no Whedon show on TV, since “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” ended its run a year earlier.
The abrupt cancellation left the series’ heroes ready to fight some really nasty demons in an L.A. alley.
Angel had turned on the senior partners of Wolfram and Hart, major characters were dead and the fates of the rest of the crew were left up in the air.
That’s right, Whedon and co-writer Brian Lynch (“Spike: Asylum”) are bringing “Angel: After the Fall” to comics shelves starting in November, and like the “Buffy: Season 8” comics that have been highly successful, the new comic follows the TV show’s characters immediately following the show’s abrupt series finale.
“It deals with the repercussions of Angel standing up to Wolfram and Hart and the senior partners,” Lynch said. “They do what you’d expect demons to do: They punish what he holds dearest. His friends and the people of L.A. who he’s always trying to protect. So, they send everyone to Hell.”
Yep, that’s right.
As many times in popular fiction that Los Angeles has been referred to as “Hell on Earth” in some metaphor or another, this is definitely one of the few times the term can be taken literally.
Whedon and Lynch have the senior partners turn L.A. into Hell.
“We messed around with it a little bit, and even had one of the characters say something about ‘Hell A,’ and then we immediately said that we would never be able to use that pun again,” Lynch said.
Of course, fans of the show have myriad questions about their favorite characters.
There’s the situation vampire-with-a-soul Spike finds himself in, for example.
“Spike has decided that he’s done everything he’s supposed to have done,” Lynch said. “He’s just running around Hell having a good time now.”
So, he’s like a kid in a candy store?
“And candy happens to have boobs and bikinis,” Lynch said with a laugh. “Hey, he’s died a couple times now. He’s retired. He’s like, ‘I’ve earned this. I’m taking some time off.’”
But don’t worry, Spike fans, that pesky soul of his always gets in the way when he really tries to go back to his decadent ways.
“It’s a really fun storyarc, and I love the character, so it’s fun to write,” Lynch said.
But the most popular question fans have when they talk to Lynch about the new series is always “What happens to Wes?”
“It’s unbelievable,” Lynch said. “You think they’d ask about Angel or Spike, but they always ask about Wesley. I think that’s just the way (Alexis Denisof) played the character. The character was originally meant to kind of be funny and kind of a nebbish, and he turned it into a great, great character with a lot of depth. If the show wasn’t cancelled, that character wouldn’t have died.”
So Wes will see time in “Hell A,” and yeah, Lynch was right, it hurts just to say that. It’s a one-shot deal, definitely.
Angel’s son, Connor, will be back, too.
The character had fans rooting against him by the time Angel’s final season started. After all, he had slept with his father’s love interest, Cordelia, and helped bring an evil, manipulative being into power in Southern California.
“On the show, he was kind of whiny,” Lynch said. “I always thought, if I had Angel as a dad, I’d just think it was the coolest thing in the world. Now Connor is one of the coolest characters in any series or comics issues. He addresses all that stuff about he and Cordelia, and about being used by a supernatural power. He’s not happy about all that stuff, either.”
Lynch co-writes the series with Whedon. They bounce ideas off each other and work to keep the feel of the series alive.
And yes, this is the official continuation of the TV series’ mythos.
This is canon.
“When it started, (Joss) had the big ideas, knew the arcs the characters needed to go through and where he wanted to take things like he would have in Season 6,” Lynch said. “But we work things out now. It’s exciting, sending him an E-mail with 30 ideas. The weirdest ones I come up with are the ones he would be like ‘I want to do that one!’”
And to answer some other questions fans are sure to ask: Yes, Illyria is in it, and she’s pissed about what happened to Wes. Yes, Harmony is back. No, Fred hasn’t made an appearance without Illyria controlling her body. And yes, Gunn is still around, too.
“But I’ve only written through the first five issues,” Lynch said.
Don’t worry, skeptical fans, this is still an Angel book. The heroic vamp is the main character. This isn’t a Spike series.
“Spike gets a great arc in it, but at the same time, it doesn’t take away from Angel,” Lynch said.
And this series will last a while.
Whedon and Lynch expect it to run at least 12 issues, maybe more.
“It’s going to last around a year,” Lynch said. “I don’t know if it’s like any of the seasons (of the show). It’s a totally new season. It’s more of an epic story, rather than episodic. It’s definitely not just about Angel. It’s all the characters we like and them dealing with L.A. having been turned into Hell. But at the end of the day, their boss is still Angel. It’s more like season 3 or 4, I’d say.”
Next week: It’s been a year of Comics Corner, so we’ll hand out some fake awards!
Then, some of the best comics and trades to pick up as you get in the Halloween mood … Boo!
Jeff Johncox writes for the Norman (Okla.) Transcript.
Comics Corner column
NORMAN, Okla. —