‘Buffy’/‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Unseen III: Long Way Home’ (2001) (Book review)

Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte wrap up their “Buffy”/“Angel” crossover trilogy “Unseen” by paying off most of the threads in satisfying ways and going big with the idea of our heroes traipsing through alternate dimensions. As is often the case in the Buffyverse novels, “Long Way Home” (September 2001) has ideas (alternate dimensions) and character traits (Willow’s and Tara’s incredible magic skills) that are a bit too ahead of the curve from where the TV series is at. For instance, when the “Angel” gang ends up in Pylea at the end of Season 2, you’d think Angel might reference his trip to various dimensions in “Long Way Home” from the previous summer.

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‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Masks’ (2006) (Comic book review)

Following the “Spotlight” series, IDW’s “Angel” comics line unveiled more stories focused on individual characters in the loosely Halloween-themed “Masks” (October 2006). The double-length one-shot includes stories about Puppet Angel, Illyria, Cordelia and Lindsey McDonald, all themed around the figurative masks people wear.

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Marvel Cinematic Universe flashback: All 13 episodes of ‘Iron Fist’ Season 1, ranked (2017) (TV review)

After watching “Iron Fist” Season 1 (2017, Netflix), I feel like I’ve completed the same hero’s journey as Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones). I’m exhausted not from doing 13 episodes of kung-fu fighting and harnessing my chi into a fist of iron, but simply from watching what is easily the slowest-paced of the Netflix MCU shows to this point.

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‘How to Talk to Girls at Parties’ blends aliens and punk music into a mixed bag (Movie review)

If not for “Annihilation,” “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” would rank as the weirdest sci-fi movie of the year. The central premise isn’t all that crazy, though: Guys talk to girls at a party, and the girls are actually aliens. Within the confines of this idea, the film finds its cutest and most relatable moments, as human Enn (Alex Sharp) and alien Zan (Elle Fanning) warm up to each other. Unfortunately, other parts of the movie are far too alien.

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‘Deadpool 2’s’ new characters, fun action make it more accessible … or maybe I’m just getting used to the humor (Movie review)

In 2016, I begrudgingly acknowledged that “Deadpool” served up exactly what its fans wanted, even if it didn’t totally connect with me. I got much more into “Deadpool 2” – now available for home viewing – because it has great new characters and fun action sequences (including one that hits the sweet spot of being darkly, brilliantly funny). But quite possibly I have also adjusted to the rhythms of this type of comedy. (Note: This is a review of the theatrical cut, not the Super Duper Cut.)

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‘Buffy’/‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Unseen II: Door to Alternity’ (2001) (Book review)

Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte expand on their portrayal of gang warfare in Los Angeles and Sunnydale by digging into the Russian side of the Mexican-Russian conflict in “Unseen II: Door to Alternity” (July 2001), the second of a trilogy. In a backstory, the authors do some impressive writing from the point of view of scientist Alexis Vishnikoff, who believes in everything the Soviet Union stands for, and hates everything the USA stands for.

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‘Valerian’ flashback: ‘The Complete Collection, Volume 4’ (Comic book review)

Looking for a “Valerian” fix after last year’s movie, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” I’m delving into the comics that started it all, by Frenchmen Pierre Christin (writer) and Jean-Claude Mezieres (pencils and inks). “The Complete Collection, Volume 4” includes the two-part sagas “Chatelet Station, Destination Cassiopeia” (1980)/“Brooklyn Line, Terminus Cosmos” (1981) and “The Ghosts of Inverloch” (1984)/“The Wrath of Hypsis” (1985).

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This year’s ‘Tully’ isn’t the first great film to go by that name (Movie review)

The Diablo Cody/Jason Reitman “Tully” – now available for home viewing – eventually won me over by being a quality film, but I was initially peeved that it uses the same title as one of the best pictures of 2002. But on the other hand, maybe this new “Tully” will draw fresh attention to the original “Tully,” which has become a forgotten gem in part because it was never a major release to begin with and in part because a lot of its talent didn’t attain the spotlight they should have.

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‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Spotlight’ (2006) (Comic book reviews)

After a mediocre start with “The Curse” and “Old Friends,” IDW’s “Angel” title picks up steam with “Spotlight” (2006), five issues that focus, respectively, on Doyle, Wesley, Gunn, Connor and Illyria. With the exception of the Season 1-set “Doyle,” they are set during Season 5. Rather than just throwbacks to the old days, they flesh out narrative gaps and allow us to not only get reacquainted with the characters, but actually to know them better. Yes, IDW is still treading water before aggressively continuing the narrative post-Season 5, but “Spotlight” is a great way to tread water.

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