‘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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‘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: ‘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: ‘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’/‘Angel’ flashback: Wizard special issues (1999-2000) (Comic book reviews)

In the early years of Dark Horse’s main “Buffy” and “Angel” series, the comic magazine Wizard sponsored two bonus issues – “Buffy” No. ½ (July 1999), titled “Stinger,” and “Buffy/Angel” No. ½ (November 2000), titled “City of Despair.” Because these were “special” issues, they cost more (and I fell for it, naturally), but they can be found cheaply now. Both are good 16-page yarns, and are worth picking up.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: Dark Horse Presents stories (1998-2000) (Comic book reviews)

In addition to the main “Buffy” series and its miniseries and one-shots, Dark Horse put out several short tales about the Slayer in its early days with the license. The main outlet for these yarns was “Dark Horse Presents,” a monthly black-and-white comic that served as a way to advertise the company’s titles and get current fans to buy another comic – something that obviously worked on me. “DHP” delivered four comics containing “Buffy” stories from 1998-2000; here’s a closer look:

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Angel: The Hollower’ (1999) and ‘Spike & Dru’ (1999-2000) (Comic book reviews)

Angel’s first “solo” adventure actually came out a few months before his debut as a TV leading man. Although later collected in a trade paperback with the familiar “Angel” logo, the three-issue “Angel: The Hollower” (May-July 1999) debuted under the “Buffy” banner and is set in Season 2, so it’s technically a “Buffy” yarn.

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‘Valerian’ flashback: ‘The Complete Collection, Volume 3’ (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 3” includes “Ambassador of the Shadows” (1975), “On the False Earths” (1977) and “Heroes of the Equinox” (1978).

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‘Valerian’ flashback: ‘The Complete Collection, Volume 2’ (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 2” includes “The Land Without Stars” (1972), “Welcome to Alflolol” (1972) and “Birds of the Master” (1973).

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