Wednesday, October 29, 2008

All Bloody Hail

What Is It?: Spike- After the Fall #4 (written by Brian Lynch.)

Timing: Directly after Spike- After the Fall #3.

REVIEW: It's hard to believe that the majority of this issue is one fight. It's so emotional, so bloody, so action packed, and so filled with well-written dialogue that it seems like many, many events are happening instead of one long fight. Including Connor was a nice touch, and I especially like his interactions with Non and Spike. Another thing I appreciated was how the focus wasn't taken off Spike or Illyria. Even when fighting the biggest bads, the story was 100% about them. Even the way Non was dealt with in the end was more about Spike's character development than actually defeating Non.

Like any Brian/Franco issue, it's loaded with fun little extras, like Spike taking on a vampire Hugh Hefner, who I think was turned way before LA went south for the fall... and how Spike got his robe. Fantastic. But nothing that happens here is really little, per say. For a book that is essentially a prequel to the main Angel: After the Fall arc, there are such huge, huge things happening here. Illyria has one moment that is frighteningly true to her character, and the way it's handled sheds light on where both Spike and her heads are at. It's definitely an emotional issue, on par with the latest two installments of Angel.

So concludes Spike: After the Fall, one of the most consistently, thoroughly good comics we've got this year. I'm praying we'll see more from the terribly talented trio (Brian/Franco/Spike) in the future.

Art: Brian Lynch has called Franco Urru the best artist in comics... and I'm starting to agree. He manages to nail all the emotional moments, but also captures the motion of the battle scenes so perfectly that you can almost see the characters fighting with each other across the panels. He's a champ at pretty much every aspect, especially his full page revelations which... in this case, are actually heartbreaking. I still think the man's one weakness is the detail of the characters when they're a distance away, but even that has improved dramatically since his work on Angel. I just wish he was paired with a talented colorist to bring out the best in his work. Art Lyon is back on this book, which was especially painful after Jason Jensen did such a fantastic, fantastic job last issue. I Art has improved at incorporating more colors into his coloring, and the book benefits from it. But honestly, how can you not make Kr'ph blue? Kr'ph needs to be blue. I will end with saying this--in this book, Art Lyon did surprise me with the improvements that he did make.

Covers: Franco Urru provides the better cover of the set again (of course). It's a very detailed cover, featuring many characters in the heat of many battles. And there is muuuucho blood. I'm not sure that it's Franco's best Spike likeness, because the face is sort of long, but otherwise it's a great cover. The Sharp Bros also deliver their best cover, with Spike in a circus setting presenting Illyria, the sideshow woman/monster. It's by far my favorite cover by them, and among the most interesting of the series. I love the text on the cover as well.

Characters We Know: Spike, Connor, Illyria, Fred, Non, Spider, Jeremy

Rating: 9/10


Loki said...

Not as giant an Urru fan as you or Lynch, but he's good, certainly. This issue was really great, and rounds up a nice prequel-arc that I am now happy they did. I'll need to re-read it to make certain I still think this, but I was very underwhelmed by the first two issues on my first impressions. These second two, however, have really made the story worthwhile. The end with Connor and Spike was a little overboard with the cheese, as was the rushed "one-panel-for-every-little-detail-in-the-status-quo-when-Angel-AtF-proper-starts-up"-thing I felt the issue had going towards the end, but as a whole, this was quite a satisfactory story. I didn't quite understand why Gwen and Nina never showed up during the big fight, but I guess I can't pick up on everything.

I would probably have given this issue a fair 8/10, and once I've reread the whole of the four issues, if my impression of them don't change, I think I'd end up with a very strong 7/10 for the thing as a whole. Worthwhile, interesting and fun, but not quite there for the truly-great-and-awesome-brandings. Still, it was much more evenly good than the mother-series, which has had an annoying track-record of jumping from brilliance to really disappointing from issue to issue. So extra thumbs up for Spike AtF showing consistancy and a steady rise in entertainment throughout the tale that was told.

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