FROM THE PUBLISHER
Using remnants of magic, Angel, Faith, Willow, and Connor have entered the hell dimension where no one should—or really, could—dare go: Quor'Toth! Willow's quest to restore magic to Earth was her objective in attempting the impossible; Angel's objective was . . . something else. And Faith? She's along to make sure that everyone's feet stay on the ground, and out of anything they might regret.
Angel, Faith, Willow and Connor arrive in Quor'Toth, and Willow's magic immediately comes back (but she's rusty due to not using magic for a while). They're attacked by "border patrol" demons, and kill one of them. The other recognizes Connor and flies off. They go to hide in the woods, and come across a hut with a painting of Connor from his days in Quor'Toth. They get attacked, and Connor rips out the demon's heart. In the aftermath, he reveals that his "fake" life was washed away when magic was destroyed.
They're getting ready to leave when they're attacked again by a larger group of the demons that initially attacked them. The demons have some kind of fire grenades, which Willow uses against them, charging them up and blowing up the whole group. After that, a second group of demons emerges, one that worships Connor, because he values life and uses the power of love (really). They think he's back to save them, which Willow does by ripping a tear through which they can escape. They go to a new world, but there's still a group of them held captive by the first group of demons. Faith is convinced they're already dead, and Angel is inclined to agree. They start to head back to the rift to Earth, but Connor wants to stay and save the captives. That, of course, leads to everyone staying.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Angel & Faith's place (aka Giles's old place) has been ransacked while Lavinia and Sophie were out. The culprits: Pearl, Nash and Whistler, who are still there.
I keep going back and forth on how I feel on this issue, and I think I finally figured out why.
I loved all the character stuff, the little interactions between Faith and Willow and Angel and Connor, and the bigger revelations that have to do with who they are. There was a great moment where Faith was telling Willow to keep an eye on Angel, because of how he'd changed in Pylea, and Willow just straight out asked him to keep a lid on his vampire side, then told Faith she needed to be more trusting. It was a small thing that had almost nothing to do with the plot, but it was awesome. The Connor revelation regarding his fake-now-gone family was brilliant, not just in what it meant for him, but in how it affected Angel too (not to mention the later moment where Angel tells one of the "good" demons that he's Connor's father, and the demon calls him "Holtz"... just heartbreakingly awesome).
That said, I wasn't a big fan of how the overall plot advanced. They arrive in Quor'Toth and Willow just gets her magic back... just like that? I mean, I know it took some doing to get there, but that seems kind of cheap, like she didn't have to work for it. I honestly expected that process to be more involved than "we're here... and I'm Super Willow again!" Also, the whole idea of Connor ending up worshiped on Quor'Toth kind of cheapens what Quor'Toth had been built up to be. The way Lorne and Holtz and Connor described it on "Angel", it was a land of unspeakable horrors. In this issue, it felt more like the bad side of Pylea. Still, I am very intrigued by the end of the issue, and I can't wait to see where that story goes.
Artwise, Rebekah Isaacs did a wonderful job with the first set of demons on Quor'Toth, though admittedly, I'm scared of anything with that lamprey teeth layout. The Connor-worshiping demons, with their puppy dog eyes, looked clearly in need of protection, which solidly supported the story. She has all kinds of fun with the designs of Quor'Toth, making it visually seem like a hellscape, even if our merry band of travelers seems a little too comfy there at times. Her cover, pictured here, is just awesome. I think I like it more than the Steve Morris cover for this issue.
I think in the end there's more to like about this issue than to dislike, especially since most of my concerns are plot-based, and there's only gradual plot progression in this issue. The positives in character development, particularly where Connor and Angel are concerned, vastly outweigh the negatives of the story.