IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR MY BUFFY #17 REVIEW, IT IS DIRECTLY BELOW THIS POST. OR, YOU KNOW, HERE.
What Is It?: Spike- After the Fall #2 (written by Brian Lynch.)
Timing: Directly after Spike- After the Fall #1.
REVIEW: Brian Lynch is pretty amped on this story. Whenever he talks about it, he mentions how much he loves it and how well it's coming together. His enthusiasm for this title had me looking forward to it real hard, and I wasn't let down at all by the first issue. We get a new character, Jeremy, set up to be Spike's buddy, and a great cliff hanger. The band of demon/women that later on become Spike's groupies imprisoned the civilians Spike was looking over and Spike was left facing off against Angel's dragon...
...and that's a dynamic that I loved seeing. The introduction to this issue gives us a hilarious idea of what Spike's opinion on Angel and the dragon is, and it also throws back to a scene from "Not Fade Away," which is awesome. I love the entire scene between the Dragon and Spike, which ends with the Dragon trying to enlist Spike's help in Angel's achy breaky back situation. But we don't really see Angel... I mean we do, but... it's hard to describe. The mystical stuff at work here in that scene, as well as the villain's powers, are really well-thought out and make for some crazy visuals.
This issue is very simple and doesn't have any real climatic scenes--it is really very set-uppy, which is a good thing for an Issue #2 to be--but it forwards the story nicely and gives us some awesome character moments. None of the pages, none of the panels, feel wasted, as we're also treated to a little joke or reference to pop-culture or Angel history. Those little moments, those appreciative chuckles, are what elevates this beyond "just a good Spike story." Lynch handles each panel with a great knowledge of how comics, as a medium, work. Take the Spike and Spider show-down for example. A back and forth like that could only work in comics, and the movement of it is just brilliant and so hilarious.
The villain, a sort of mer/witch/necromancer/hottie/something woman, is a good one. Her dialogue is great and she's really a threat, unlike her demon/woman groupies. She, and this series, has a lot of intrigue that I can't wait to see paid off. It works great as a companion to "Angel: After the Fall" but is solid enough that it stands completely on its own.
Art: Franco does a great job. Pretty much the same I said last time, paste here. Art Lyon marginally improves, but still sticks way too much to washed out colors. The Hell-A sky was stunning and terrifying in the early A:AtF issues, but now it's just red. Looks sort of like a perpetual sunset. I do love the detail Lyon puts into the things he wants to pop out at us--the dragon in the beautiful splash page looks real--but I wish that everything wasn't so red, brown, and washed out. I'm sort of left yearning for the earlier colorists, who truly brought out the beauty of Franco Urru's intricate panels.
Covers: The Franco Urru cover is simply a win. A blatant win. Totally relevant to the issue, and sort of conveys how differently Spike is responding to the situation when compared to Angel. Such a great idea and executed nicely by Franco. The Sharp brothers also provide a cover, which isn't bad, but is more blah than good. I don't so much get the cover, but it's not horrible. Their next one, the one for #3, is when they really shine.
Characters We Know: Angel (sorta), The Dragon, Spike, Angel (sorta... in a different and more real way but still sorta), Spider, Fred, Illyria, Jeremy,