Throughout my reread of IDW’s Angelverse work, it’s become increasingly clear that the “Spike” titles tend to be better than the “Angel” titles. There are some exceptions: “Spike: The Devil You Know” is not very good, and some “Angel” yarns are outstanding. But generally, your odds of getting a great tale are better with “Spike,” and it’s because Brian Lynch – with whom Joss Whedon co-wrote the canonical “Angel: After the Fall” — writes most of them, and Franco Urru does the art for most of Lynch’s work.
Spike and Illyria go off on their own adventures toward the end of the period of IDW’s “Angel” ongoing series. Two four-issue miniseries — “Spike: The Devil You Know” and “Illyria: Haunted” – let us know what they’re up to, with varying degrees of entertainment value.
Starting with three transitional issues (36-38) where they share plotting and scripting duties with Bill Willingham, the duo of David Tischman and Mariah Huehner takes IDW’s “Angel” series to the finish line in Issues 36-44 (August 2010-April 2011). It’s a notch below Willingham’s run on Issues 28-35 that breathed new life into the title: not terrible, but there’s also a reason why these issues didn’t stick in my head as well as “Buffy” Season 8, which was published by Dark Horse at the same time.
The first 27 issues of IDW’s main “Angel” title were collected under the “Season Six” banner, and that works out well because writer Bill Willingham’s run on the series from Issues 28-35 (December 2009-July 2010) feels like the launch of a new season – in a good way. While “After the Fall” (Issues 1-17) was strong, the title lost focus and momentum after that. Willingham, working with artists Brian Denham (28-32) and Elena Casagrande (33-35), brings a confident sense of direction to what I like to call “Season Seven.” And the artists also draw a Kate who looks like Kate for the first time in too long.
IDW was champing at the bit to continue Illyria’s story upon acquiring the “Angel” license, both because her character arc was left hanging and because she cuts a fine figure as a badass comic-book heroine (or villain, or anti-heroine, or whatever). She appears on the cover art of a lot of the early issues, even if she is just on hand to make a jab or two about the pathetic weakness of humans.
When IDW first picked up the “Angel” license, it delivered hesitant stories – with the exception of the “Spike” titles – up until the canonical Joss Whedon-plotted “After the Fall” (Issues 1-17 of the ongoing series). Embarking on the remainder of the “Angel” ongoing series (which will go up to Issue 44), IDW is back to being unsure of how it wants to proceed. The opener, “Aftermath,” is the worst “Angel” comic arc up to this point, and while it gets better after that, there’s little forward momentum for the main title in 2009.
“Spike: After the Fall” (July-October 2008) caps a trilogy of “Spike” titles – following “Asylum” and “Shadow Puppets” – from writer Brian Lynch and artist Franco Urru, as Spike falls in with new allies in late Season 5 and post-Season 5 of “Angel.” However, the allies in “After the Fall” are different from Team Spike in the previous volumes; that group is in Las Vegas and is none the wiser about Los Angeles’ descent into a hell dimension.
After the “First Night” interlude (Issues 6-8), IDW’s “Angel” returns to the main storyline of “After the Fall” having lost its momentum. Although still plotted by Joss Whedon and scripted by Brian Lynch, the arc feels like it is treading water, with a lot of talking. It also doesn’t help that Franco Urru is mostly absent from Issues 9-14, as he was working on “Spike: After the Fall.” Before his return for the grand finale, there’s a shortage of dynamism in the panels.
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). Here’s a look at the final volume, an epilogue of sorts that isn’t included in the collected volumes from Cinebook.
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 7” includes the conclusive trilogy: “At the Edge of the Great Void” (2004), “The Order of the Stones” (2007) and “The Time Opener” (2010). It looks like this will be the final collection from Cinebook, but I’ll be back to review to the uncollected coda volume, “Memories from the Futures.”