What Is It: Spike: Shadow Puppets Issue #1. This is the first issue in a new mini-series written by Brian Lynch and penciled/inked by Franco Urru (that's right, just like fan-favorite Spike: Asylum). Issue #2 comes out July 18th, so get ready!
Timing: After Spike: Asylum. Not clear on much else except that Spike has a soul, and he knows Lorne, so it's at least in the Angel: Season Five (or perhaps after, wink wink nudge nudge) area.
REVIEW: Suffice it to say this: I bought the regular and the variant cover, something I've only ever done with "Buffy: Season Eight." I just love Lynch's work so much that I had to have the complete set, and I'll do so for the entirety of the mini-series.
Gotta be honest, I was never much of a fan of the whole "Smile Time" idea, and thought that the Angel puppet thing was a bit too silly for the show. I know people love it, but I'd be lying if I said it was one of my favorite episodes. However, for some reason I feel that the medium of comics is a much better place to tell such a puppety story and, judging from this damn-good issue, I'm not wrong.
Lynch reintroduces Spike and the dialogue (both inside Spike's mind and when he's talking to others) really couldn't be more on point. There is a certain respect that is given to Spike in the dialogue that I really, really like: Spike is written to be funny, certainly, but in this issue he always maintains his integrity and through that, I can tell how much Brian Lynch loves Spike. That is one thing I love about these comics, that the writer is clearly as much of a fan of the world as we, the readers, are. Along with the beautifully precise narration, what I love are the little jokes (the Angel doll hanging from Spike's lamp), the absurdly and hilariously different people interacting (Spike/Mrs. Konikoff, Spike/Lorne), and simply the fact that this whole series is shaping up to be a sort of "Buddy Film" between Spike and Lorne. Those two didn't interact much when they were around each other in the show, so it's awesome on a whole new level to see these guys spend time together.
Buy this comic, why don'tcha. And expect a lot, and I promise you'll still get more. Hell, my comic book guy knows how much I love these that when I walked in, he just handed me the issue without me even asking for a reserve.
Art: The art is gorgeous. You can pretty much take what I said about the art in Spike: Asylum and paste it right here. The only slight complaint I have for this one is that Lorne's face is often left kinda not much with the detail, and I'd like a bit more attention paid to his face. Some panels with him are perfect, while others you can't tell he has horns. Other than that, the other demons are drawn *kisses fingers* MUAH! The red horned guy, the green stinky blob who Spike sits next to on the plane... Ahhh man, it makes me itch to read the next issue. Someone call Hermione Granger, because I'm in need of a time-turner. Destination: July 18th.
Characters We Know: Spike, Lorne, and Ratio Hornblower. Polo isn't back, but a friend--er sorry, roommate!--of his is!