Monday, November 8, 2010

VINTAGE - Angel Special, Lorne

BYRNE, John. Angel Special: Lorne. “The Music of the Spheres.” 48p. IDW, June 2010. ISBN: 9781600107238

Sometimes when you are visiting your local comic shop, something happens that can only be described as serendipity. You aren't looking to buy anything other than what you came for, but something catches the corner of your eye. It draws you in, and you are surprised that you haven't even heard of it before that moment. It's almost... magical. That was the case with this particular Angel story, focusing on the character of Lorne. When I was buying my monthly titles at Midtown Comics, a new tradition I'm trying to uphold, they had this propped up on display at the register. Not only did I not know that they were doing a tribute comic for Andy Hallett, who passed away a few years ago, but I also didn't know that John Byrne was the artist and writer involved with it. Byrne has done a few Angel comics for IDW. These are the few that I'm willing to admit are actually good.

The plot of this comic is pretty basic. Or massively complicated, depending on your point of view. It essentially involves three evil music demons with ill-defined illusion/sound powers who want to destroy all of reality. Illyria encounters one at the beginning of the story named Dischord, and it lets loose on her. She's afraid of them for most of the story, which is the only thing that makes them truly badass. It does take elements from the really bad Angel IDW flagship title, including mentioning that L.A. was recently Hell incarnate and the Groosalugg has a pret dragon named Cordelia. The entire beginning is narrated in Lorne's voice. It works. Byrne is definitely an Angel fan, or at least a fan of Lorne. He captures his voice, and his visual look, very nicely. Byrne's art has a unique style to it. I was a big fan of his work on X-Men: The Hidden Years which attempted to bridge a gap in early X-Men history. There's a kind of timeless quality to the way he draws.

Lorne is not doing so great. He collapses early on in the tale. After going to the doctor, he finds out that he has cancer. When Lorne comments that demons from his dimension (Pylea) don't get cancer, the demon doctor theorizes that Lorne's extended stay in this dimension may have had something to do with it. He goes to the Hyperion Hotel to visit Angel and the gang. Angel's the only one there, and Lorne doesn't reveal his illness. Angel is trying to research a weird reality shift he encountered the previous night. While they're talking, it happens again. Groo brings a defeated Illyria to the Hotel on his dragon, and the motley crew decide to fly where Illyria was attacked. They believe this to be the center of the phenomena. Illyria freaks out and says she won't go, but flies in on Cordelia the Dragon for an 11th hour rescue.

Lorne sacrifices himself in the end to stop the demons. It's sad, but he's kind of at peace with his decision. He dies singing, which is how Lorne would go out in the end. Both Mark Lutz (who played Groo and was real life friends with Andy) and the editor of IDW include notes at the end. Mark included personal photos of him and Andy and talked about how great he was and how much he'll be missed. He really will be. I can't believe Andy Hallett died, still do this day. The editor makes a point to tell readers that Lorne will be back in the comics- his story doesn't end here. You can probably still find this small graphic novel in your local comic shop. I wholeheartedly recommend buying it.

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