‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Angel’ Classic Issues 8-17 (2000-01) (Comic book reviews)

Once Tom Sniegoski joined Christopher Golden as a co-writer, and once Wesley joined Angel and Cordelia in the crime-solving trio, the “Angel” comic hit its stride. The back half of the Season 1 comics would turn out to also be the back half of the entire first volume from Dark Horse, as Joss Whedon – working on “Fray” at the time — put a halt to the title in order to reboot it as a superhero-styled comic (which ended up lasting only four issues). While there would be a lot more “Angel” comics through the years, particularly from IDW, Dark Horse’s “vintage” era ended too soon.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row’ (2000) (Book review)

Christopher Golden delivers the first masterpiece of the “Buffy” adult novel line with “Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row” (October 2000), the second hardcover in the series. The best, and least handcuffed parts, of Golden’s previous works (both solo and when writing with Nancy Holder) had been the centuries-spanning backstories of the demons Buffy fights in that particular book. Here, the author is allowed to revel in the past, telling of Spike and Drusilla as they pick off Slayers-in-Waiting in 1940, after stealing a list from Watchers Council headquarters in London.

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‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Angel’ Classic Issues 1-7 and Dark Horse Presents Issues 153-155 (1999-2000) (Comic book reviews)

Christopher Golden is arguably the elite “Buffy”/“Angel” spinoff writer, but the early issues of Dark Horse’s classic “Angel” series prove he’s not infallible. I assume he wasn’t given enough time to get a good feel for the Angel-Cordelia-Doyle dynamic, because Issues 1-7 – which comprise the entire Doyle era of the series – mostly rely on the parent show for us to feel anything for these characters. Maybe Glenn Quinn has one of those faces that doesn’t translate to an artist’s pencil, because he usually doesn’t look right. The best likeness comes in his very last panel, in Issue 6.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Ghoul Trouble’ (2000) (Book review)

John Passarella makes a strong Buffyverse debut (he’d go on to write two “Angel” novels) with “Ghoul Trouble” (October 2000). Set in the spring semester of Season 3, this young-adult entry has a lot of elements that feel like a standalone TV episode, notably a band called Vyxn that plays a five-night stand at the Bronze and has all the male concertgoers under its thrall.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Paleo’ (2000) (Book review)

Remember that time in Season 3 when Buffy fought a bunch of Tyrannosaurus rexes? Well, it happened, if you count the books as canonical. In “Paleo” (September 2000), which is set at the start of the spring semester of senior year (I’d place it just before “Gingerbread,” 3.11), three baby T-rexes and a timimus get resurrected from fossilized eggs via magic and the Scoobies must fight them.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Jonathan’ (2001) and ‘Reunion’ (2002) (Comic book reviews)

For the Season 4 episode “Superstar,” Dark Horse created a “Jonathan” comic book as a prop, and inevitably, it later became a real comic – and a worthwhile one. The episode’s writer, Jane Espenson, doesn’t just beat into the ground the “Superstar” joke of an alternate reality where everyone loves the geeky kid.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘How I Survived My Summer Vacation’ (2000) (Book review)

“How I Survived My Summer Vacation” (August 2000) is the only “Buffy” young-adult book that’s an essential read for all “Buffy” book fans, and it’s the first book that fits so nicely with the TV continuity that it can be considered unambiguously canonical. The full title includes “Volume 1” at the end, which suggests Pocket Books planned to delve into more summers between TV seasons. That didn’t happen, unfortunately (although the comics sometimes explored the summers), but at least this tome covers the summer between Seasons 1 and 2, which is a rich playground for fresh stories.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Haunted’ (2001-02) (Comic book review)

Did you know that Buffy worked through her problems in a dream state at the end of Season 3, just like she did in the Season 4 finale “Restless?” And that the story was written by Jane Espenson? Such is the pleasure of the early “Buffy” comics – in the few cases where they tapped directly into the show’s timeline, they often hit it out of the park.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Annual ’99,’ ‘Giles’ (2000) and ‘Lover’s Walk’ (2001) (Comic book reviews)

In addition to the main series and miniseries, in the early days of the “Buffy” license, Dark Horse was good for at least one one-shot per year. Here’s a look at three of the early ones (reviews of others are coming in later posts):

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘The Evil That Men Do’ (2000) (Book review)

By a quirk of timing, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” became linked with the 1999 Columbine school shootings. The WB pushed the airings of “Earshot” (3.18) and “Graduation Day, Part 2” (3.22) into the summer, citing the sensitive subject matter. In reality, neither episode explores school shootings, let alone takes a political stance on them. In “Earshot,” it’s a fake-out: Jonathan aims to kill himself with a gun, and the lunch lady aims to poison the students. In “Graduation Day, Part 2,” the “school violence” is self-defense against an evil demon, and the students don’t use guns.

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