Thursday, August 7, 2008

Spike: After the Fall #2 Review

Writer: Brian Lynch
Penciller: Franco Urru

The first issue really set the stage for what has so far been a great series, Spike: After the Fall. The second issue picks up the action, and the comic has already found its own tone and sense of humour that renders this a great book and a real treat for Spike fans like me. I love Spike, dressed as him for three straight Hallowe'ens, and found him to be the best developed and written character on either the Buffy or Angel television shows. This story has the same mood as Spike: goofy, cynical but ultimately noble, and serves as a perfect vehicle for his character. Even though it is strictly a flashback in the Angel: After the Fall continuity, that doesn't stop Lynch from providing a story with its own plot, characters and suspense. We know that none of the main characters can get killed (and on Buffy and Angel, main characters do get killed), but the story still manages to produce the same kind of suspense we find in mainstream comics where the characters are equally immortal.

The story begins with a hilarious scene in which Angel's dragon decides to take Spike for a ride. Spike goes through a series of calculations about how he might kill the dragon, which serve both as a source of humour ("Thorn in paw. Look for a thorn in paw, pull it out, monster owes me and does my bidding. Might not have a thorn. Don't think they're called 'paws,' either") and as a reminder that Spike has two centuries of training as a fearless strategic fighter and killer. In the end, he decides to just threaten the dragon, which seems to work, and he flies off to Wolfram and Hart, where he encounters a strange tatooed man in a kind of fiery hell. After touching the man, he is incapacitated and leaves. This will serve as an important plot point later.

After that, he decides to rescue his and Illyria's flock from a group of female demons that have captured them. They are well drawn, both literally and dramatically, and the boss lady, Non, seems to have the same sense of humor as Spike. She calls the human beings "shells", which is reminiscent of what Illyria called Fred after she killed her, making me think that there may be some connection to the old ones, the original demons. Spike arrives and attempts a valiant rescue, which fails miserably after he and Illyria are captured and all of his flock (except Jerry, who I'm pretty sure is evil) are turned into zombies. Normally, seeing a few dozen people murdered would be shocking, but the last issue of Angel: After the Fall revealed that the people in hell may very well be illusions, so until that is sorted out, there isn't much horror attached to the killing of civilians.

Non isn't interested in killing Spike or Illyria, but is after their power. It seems that the tatooed man whom Spike touched at the beginning of the issue had filled him with a great deal of power, and Non wants it. This turns Non from a generic demon to a real threat. She's clearly after something very dangerous and I look forward to seeing where this plot is taken. A lot of clever, mysterious villains are being developed, well suited to the characters of Spike and Illyria, and I am really enjoying watching this well-crafted book establish its independence from the main title.

B+

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