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Fans of Angel likely already know the “A Hole in the World” story. As Angel and his teams attempted to the use the endless resources of the sinister Wolfram & Hart to make the world a better place a great tragedy was coming upon the horizon. For all their efforts to help the helpless, it was the most defenseless of their own family that was lost forever.
Since the time Angel, the vampire defender with a soul, first arrived in Los Angeles he has found himself going head-to-head with a legal defense firm catering to the evils that walked the earth, both human and demonic. Wolfram & Hart had the money, the connections and the power to protect those who preyed upon the innocent. The only thing Angel could ever do was be a thorn in their side, oppose them at every turn.
Tired of combating Angel, the Senior Partners, an unseen demonic force controlling Wolfram & Hart as well as many aspects of the natural and supernatural world, decided it would be better to recruit him. Now, given the position of CEO of this otherworldly law firm, Angel is trying to balance its evil nature with his good intentions, and waiting to discover if some horrific fate is hiding in the fine print.
It seems that time has come. A sarcophagus has been delivered to the law firm’s science division and infected the team’s science-nerd Winifred “Fred” Burkle with an ancient bacteria. Now Angel, Spike, and Fred’s love Wesley, try to learn everything they can in order to save her from this infection, and ancient demon named Illyria, as Fred’s insides begin to boil.
The time spent at Wolfram & Hart was short-lived, lasting only the final season of the television series and concluding just before the beginning of IDW’s Angel: After the Fall, which saw Los Angeles cast into Hell. For that reason, it’s sentimental to be able to periodically revisit that time during adaptation stories like this or Angel: Smile Time. It’s during this time that Angel, and his blonde counter-part Spike, are reunited after a long rivalry. Neither has gotten along since Angel’s soul had been restored, but this story captures that back and forth period where the two became more like bickering siblings than mortal enemies. And, of course, it’s silly, disarming exchanges that are typical of the work of Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel: After the Fall) which make for the character moments that the reader finds himself trying to explain to others.
This period also amounts to “the final days” of the core-crew of the television series before the departure of Lorne and the death of both Wesley and Fred. Despite how enjoyable IDW’s work has been since that then, there’s a lot that can only be enjoyed during this period and so it’s nice that those events are being retold in comic book form.
“A Hole in the World”, written by Whedon and adapted by Scott Tipton (Angel: Not Fade Away, Spike: Shadow Puppets), is a powerful tragedy that shows even our greatest champions are sometimes helpless. Fred is very charming in her own quirky way, and even readers who are not familiar with her character before now will quickly fall in love with her. She’s sweet and sincere, investing the reader more deeply in desperate attempts to save her and making failure a very frightening possibility.
It might be hard to truly see the writer’s hand in a verbatim adaption. In fact, the harder it is, the better Tipton has done his job. It’s important to think of him as the director of this “episode”, controlling the pacing and the dramatic emphasis by conceiving of how best to break up fluid visuals into single shots. He is no stranger to these adaptations and it’s apparent from how easily the pages flow, providing large panels to force the reader to take a longer moment to consider the character’s feelings or shorter and more narrow panels to rush the eyes from one action to the next. These might not sound so significant, but when it comes to adapting the work of someone else, especially some whose work is considered by many to be sacrosanct, being able to take something from one media to another without anyone noticing is an immense skill.
The characters are easily recognized by the artwork of Elena Casagrande (Star Trek Alien Spotlight: Orions, Ghost Whisperer), which makes it an excellent match to Tipton’s efforts. Though the characters at times appear a little spacey, for the most part Casagrande’s show the subtle yet expressive looks only seen on actors. Her natural ability allows her to bring her own style to these moments without them having to appear photographic and without artistic individuality.
With the third issue on shelves now, the story winds to a close in just a few weeks. For long-time Angel fans, the ending draws to a conclusion one of the most memorable events in “Angel” history. For new readers and fans, Angel: A Hole in the World #4 (pictured on the right) is a must-not miss.
IDW Publishing has risen to the fourth largest comic book publisher in the country. Based in San Diego, they are the home to modern classics like 30 Days of Night and Locke & Key, as well as G.I. JOE and The Veil.
To find these issues, check out Southern California Comics on Kearny Mesa Drive just west of the 163 or find your closest San Diego comic store now.
Buy your one-day passes to the San Diego Comic-Con before they sell out and remember the San Diego Quarterly Con is March 7th.