Angel: Lorne

By John Byrne
48 pages, color
Published by IDW

When actor Andy Hallett passed away in March 2009, it left the publishers of the Angel comic at IDW in a slight quandary. While not the main character of the series, Hallett’s character Lorne had shown up on a fairly regular basis. Deciding that they would at least temporarily retire the character, the Angel: Lorne one-shot was conceived. And as a way to say goodbye to the character? Well, it’s not going to knock you out, but its heart is in the right place.

John Byrne brings most of the Angel cast together for this story, as three ancient creatures try to disrupt the Music of the Spheres and in doing so unravel the entire universe. While all of this is going on, Lorne is dealing with a bad medical diagnosis, and Groo with the results of some particularly strong hero-worship. It’s not a bad story, but it varies in its strengths. The second you learn that the trio of Discord, Disharmony, and Cacophony are song-based, it’s hard to not see the end to this story coming a mile away (something even a character snarkily comments on). The plot in general seems a little too easy at times; characters drop out and come back into the story for the sake of plot convenience, and the one new character is such a cliché that it’s a little painful even as she serves a minor purpose at best.

On the other hand, I liked the art in Angel: Lorne much more. There are some weak points from time to time—characters sometimes seem to have unusually elongated faces in some panels—but on the whole it’s a solid end result. I think Byrne’s strengths are best shown off here when the bad gus show up, with their elaborate masks and gaping mouths as they sing. They remind me of ancient burial masks, an apt look for the character. Likewise, when the effects of their singing show up, Byrne plays with the art to provide his own special effects, and they prove to be surprisingly effective. Some of the characters seems slightly off-model from time to time; Angel surprisingly is the one who suffers the most (although I’d say he looks just right about 2/3rds of the time), while Illyria looks picture-perfect throughout the entire comic.

It’s a shame that the conclusion of the book feels so rushed, for reasons I’m not entirely sure. This is a book where you turn the page and wonder if you skipped some other pages in-between. I’d have rather seen the deletion of an additional four-page story (written by Brian Lynch and drawn by John Byrne) telling Lorne’s time in the Angel: After the Fall series as a nursery rhyme, in favor of several additional pages of climax. For a book that at least for now is writing the character out of the series, it feels a little odd for his actual moment of departure to be so abrupt.

Angel: Lorne closes out with an essay by actor Mark Lutz (who played Groo), a close friend of Andy Hallett’s, as well as some photos from Lutz’s collection of the two of them around the world. It’s a nice way to close out a comic that’s supposed to be a tribute to the late actor, and it certainly leaves the writer with a strong favorable impression. In the end, Angel: Lorne is an average comic, but it’s a shame that it wasn’t great. With some tweaks, I think it could have been there.

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