What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about what is now titled Angel & Spike! Crazy right? Who really would have thought that these two of all characters in the Buffyverse would be sharing names in a title? A bold choice considering with Dark Horse they went with the combo of Angel & Faith. This I honestly could not argue with because Angel is the kind of character who is at his best when he has the right character(s) to work off of. Right now that character is going to be Spike, along with Fred and Gunn.
First of all, I was pretty shocked at the way that this book tied into the Hellmouth event. I think most of us would have assumed that Fred and Gunn would play a much bigger part in it rather than doing their own thing with the influences of the event. Not a bad thing I should say either, there’s nothing wrong with being a bit more self-contained. This worked in the favor of Fred and Gunn both getting themselves more accustomed to the supernatural world they have now stepped into. From the minute this issue started we jumped right into the aftermath for this book. Meaning it is time to get everyone on the same page about the new players who have stepped onto the scene, and the direction that they are headed in to prepare for this lurking threat.
What I appreciated a lot about the direction they took this issue is that there was a cliche they could have easily played into once Angel got back. When you know Angel well enough, you know that he is the kind of guy who will have many problems with Spike working with the good guys. I mean, Spike is the one who helped Drusilla open the Hellmouth in the first place. Though they played it smart here because the appeal of this book continues to be the fact that everyone is playing to a role. Not one that you know exactly, but you know that everyone on Team Spike right now is there because they serve a higher purpose than whatever it is they want as an individual. An important detail in the plot which truly separates this from other Angel stories where nothing at all is known about what the future has in store for any of these characters.
Something else to take notice of is the way that Angel still takes some licks after what he went through in Hellmouth. Even in this book is he is not left off the hook as someone who has his own demons and questionable choices to make him no better than Spike. Whenever Angel takes the highground, that is always while running the risk of pot calling the kettle black. This issue was self-aware of all of that and much more. I was more impressed with the writing for Spike which addressed the fact that people will trust someone like him who wears his intentions and opinions on his sleeves. Would you not trust someone who will say what no one else is willing to? It made a big difference as well that we could get a Fred and Gunn who have had their first taste of real action and see that there is something genuine about the role which Spike plays with them. Their perspective showed growth from their perspective and capability to clearly make their own decisions.
By the end of the issue, we do also jump into what comes next. The problem may not be Wolfram & Hart, at least not on the surface, but it is good to know that there are enemies out there who are more than being vampire. This new one was chilling for having no clear motivation, or even for having a face with nothing to read off of it but a giant grin.
Being that this is the following issue to the conclusion of Hellmouth, there wasn’t much standout about this one visually. For the most part there is simply a consistency to the quality of the interior work. Which is really all you can ask for when getting through that period of calm before things truly pick up again. With that said, at least one thing does jump out, and that was the new demon which makes an appearance. The design was cool seeing how it was nothing we have seen before in the Buffyverse. The sewn eyes, wide grin, it made this thing look like something plucked right out of your nightmares. It helped having that supernatural green smoke always covering its presence.
From one situation right into the next. It doesn’t seem like there will be a dull day for this team. Especially now that they have the charismatic Spike now joining the party. For how long? Who knows! But let’s all really let it sink in that we have gotten to a point where we are actually picking up a book titled Angel & Spike.