‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Oz: Into the Wild’ (2001-02) (Book and comic book reviews)

Oz served an important role on “Buffy” as a representative of a classic monster (the werewolf), Willow’s boyfriend, and a steadying presence among the Scooby Gang. But, despite the fact that Seth Green was the second-most-famous actor in the cast, there weren’t many Oz-centric episodes. When Green left the show in Season 4, it left a gap between “Wild at Heart” (4.6) and “New Moon Rising” (4.19) that felt rather empty. And even though the two episodes themselves are great, they feel like Willow episodes more so than Oz episodes.

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‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Hollywood Noir’ (2001) (Book review)

“Angel” and hardboiled detective fiction are such a natural fit in book form that I almost wish every novel in the series used the style. But at least we have “Hollywood Noir” (January 2001), where Jeff Mariotte – in his second entry in the series – leans into the genre, while still writing a story that could only exist in the “Angel” world.

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‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Shakedown’ (2000) (Book review)

In his only “Angel” novel, “Shakedown” (November 2000), Don DeBrandt delivers an enjoyable fly-by of an effort, mixing many of the things we enjoy about the franchise but not showing his hardboiled influences as much as one might like, considering he counts John D. MacDonald as a favorite author. The characterizations of the main trio are broadly correct – with Doyle working his demon contacts and Cordelia looking for a Hollywood “in” — although Angel is a bit quicker with a joke than we’re used to.

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‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Close to the Ground’ (2000) (Book review)

Jeff Mariotte – who had teamed with Nancy Holder on Buffyverse guidebooks and will go on to be a reliable author – makes a respectable debut in the “Angel” novel line with “Close to the Ground” (August 2000). I like how this novel is – pun kind of intended — grounded in the meat-and-potatoes aspects of Angel Investigations’ work, rather than veering into the life story of an ancient demon.

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‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Redemption’ (2000) (Book review)

Thus far in my re-read, I haven’t encountered another author who makes such an improvement between his first and second Buffyverse novel as Mel Odom. After the weak “Buffy” entry “Unnatural Selection,” he bounces back with the “Angel” novel “Redemption” (June 2000). Also considering the unevenness of his next “Buffy” book, “Revenant,” he’s clearly much more at home in the Angel Investigations offices than in Sunnydale.

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All 15 ‘Star Wars’ Legends Han Solo and Lando Calrissian novels, ranked (Book commentary)

With Disney’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” about to hit theaters, fans might be interested in digging into the Legends source material. It dates back quite a ways: Six of the first seven “Star Wars” spinoff novels chronicled these rogues during their early days with the Millennium Falcon, in “The Han Solo Adventures” (1979-80) and “The Lando Calrissian Adventures” (1983).

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‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Not Forgotten’ (2000) (Book review)

Although “Buffy” was generally a slightly better TV show than “Angel,” I remember the “Angel” novels being consistently better than the “Buffy” novels. Because “Angel” was a less serialized concept, it was easy for authors to write a good old-fashioned detective yarn and have it fit into the timeline without any problems. In my re-read, I’ll eventually get to those types of books, but the series’ first original novel, “Not Forgotten” (April 2000), is more of a thematic piece centering on mortality and leaving a legacy.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘The Book of Fours’ (2001) (Book review)

Nancy Holder intriguingly expands on Slayer mythology and simultaneously scoffs at established continuity in “The Book of Fours” (April 2001). But even if the idea that it fits into Season 3’s TV arcs is laughable, this third hardcover in the series is a delicious page-turner that daringly breaks free of narrative convention.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Revenant’ (2001) (Book review)

“Revenant” (January 2001) is a big step up from Mel Odom’s “Buffy” debut, “Unnatural Selection,” although if memory serves, he’ll go on to do even better work on “Angel” books and “Buffy”/“Angel” crossovers later. Freed from the constraints of short YA fiction, this story – ostensibly set somewhere between “The Zeppo” (3.13) and “The Prom” (3.20) – goes in the opposite direction and is notably decompressed, flirting with the 400-page mark. It contains several character interactions that aren’t totally plausible based on what we’ve seen on TV, but the scenes are interesting for that very reason.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Doomsday Deck’ (2000) (Book review)

Diana G. Gallagher’s third “Buffy” entry – and her first in the young adult line – is a big step down from her first two, “Obsidian Fate” and “Prime Evil.” The 193-page “Doomsday Deck” (December 2000) has its soul cut out to fit the shorter format. While the Scoobies speak correctly and everyone is in character, the book is unengaging once a reader figures out its direction, which happens too quickly.

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