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Set towards the second half of season 2, Jeff Mariotte's STRANGER TO THE SUN sees the four regulars split up after a mysterious package arrives at Angel Investigations.

Opening the package renders Wesley unconscious, so with Cordy assigned the role of Research Girl, it's to Angel and Gunn to pound the streets in search of a solution.

The structure of STRANGER TO THE SUN seems to have been influenced by 24, except that the action is confined to a night rather than a full day. This structure is appropriate since the clock is counting down in more ways than one.

Angel and Gunn soon discover that Wesley isn't the only one to have received such a package, although since the one he opened was addressed to Angel Investigations, the chances are he wasn't the intended recipient. But what is the link between the others? Meanwhile, Cordy is so the Net Girl, enlisting Wes' contacts across the globe to come up with a solution.

But Wesley isn't merely sleeping. Instead, he finds himself with a group of trapped miners in England sometime during the 19th century, and the air is running out...

The back cover helpfully reveals that a vampire is behind all this, and that it's part of his attempt to plunge the Earth into constant darkness. Perhaps he's been watching season 4, or maybe THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE as the plan involves throwing the Earth off its axis. Which might just explain why those who've been knocked out are either skilled in magic or those who watch the sky.

Since it's still relatively soon after Gunn joined Team Angel, there's plenty of antagonism between his crew and Angel, and Mariotte pulls this off well. He also gives the relationship between Cordy and Wesley the deep bonds that you'd expect of two people who've known and fought alongside one another for the best part of three years.

There's an obvious analogy between the miners who never see the light of day and a vampire who wants to throw LA into permanent darkness. However, I couldn't quite see just how Wesley managed to find himself in this situation. He sort of ties it up by relating a story from his family's history, but quite how he got there was a mystery. Did all the others who were knocked out experience something similiar or was it just a vivid dream based on a memory of a story he'd been told as a child?

However, at least this subplot is quite interesting, and although I'm no expert on mining, Mariotte seems to have got his facts about pasties, canaries and methane right. But surely someone from Lancashire is a Lancastrian instead of a "Lancashireman"?

The structure of STRANGER TO THE SUN means that it's split up into fairly sizeable chunks which, when combined with a fairly decent storyline and a readable style, means that it's easy to polish it off in a couple of sittings. back to the top





RATING: 7/10