Plot: Illyria makes a tenuous alliance with Liandra to find her missing icon in the ice valleys of the Artic circle.
Comments: As far as developing licensed properties go, Peter David and J.K.Woodward complete an amazing feat in organically incorporating this Buffy: The Vampire Slayer character, Illyria, into their world of Fallen Angel: Reborn. Despite the cover stating "Guest-Starring: Illyria," this story bears none of the forced cohesion and plot turns akin to Jetsons Meet the Flintstones. Instead, Illyria slips into this comic seamlessly. Moreover, her imposing and inquisitive demeanor perfectly counters Liandra's, the titular fallen angel, self-loathing and reclusion.
David's plot is essentially an odd couple road adventure. These two women are initially pitted against each other, only to discover that in order to survive they need to work together. At the center of this plot are Illyria's lost icons: articles of power that were stolen from her eons ago by her enemies. With one in her grasp, Illyria uses the icon to search for its corresponding pieces in order to restore her power and, more immediately, get her and Liandra out of the cold.
Since the plot is so straightforward, David has plenty of room to play with subtext and character development. As the two women hike through the icy wilderness, Illyria inquires how Liandra fell from grace. Woodard treats the reader to a collage of violent, painful scenes as David weaves Illyria's desperate attempt to read her companion's mind to no avail. In the end, Liandra simply states, "I failed."
Furthermore, the dialogue is natural and fluid. For example, as Illyria continues to insistently feed her curiosity, Liandra begrudgingly responds. Finally out of desperation, Liandra fires back, "Again, why do you care?" Despite being disgraced cosmic beings, the two express themselves realistically with the ebb and flow of the emotions in the scene.
Similarly, Woodard captures the breadth of this world and transforms what would be normal comic book fair into one beautiful book. His design is very realistic, but he paints in a style reminiscent of watercolors, only in far more vibrant hues. The effect creates a dreamy, strangely noir atmosphere that feeds into the mystery of the adventure, and the underlying tension between these two characters.
Moreover, Woodard develops this story at a terrific pace, blending action, drama, and comedy perfectly. After Illyria explains they will both die unless she and Liandra work together, the two women stand off against each other. Over five panels, time elapses: the winds die down, the snow piles up over their feet, and a baby bears walk trots naively between them. Finally, Liandra launches the icon, a double-headed spear, at Illyria with fury. The icon lands right at the goddess' toes, and with that Liandra consents to teaming up.
Fallen Angel: Reborn # 3 is terrific adventure story with plenty of pathos and humor, delivered by two extraordinary artists. With an easy to follow narrative, there's no need to worry about the first two issues, but trust me they are well worth tracking down.
Final Word: Buy It! Read it! Love it!
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