‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Angel vs. Frankenstein’ (2009-10) (Comic book reviews)

While Joss Whedon himself brought Dracula into the Buffyverse with “Buffy vs. Dracula” (“Buffy” 5.1), comic-book legend John Byrne brought another Universal Monster into the fold with two “Angel vs. Frankenstein” comics – “Heir” in October 2009 and “Fragments” in October 2010. Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is the backstory for the monster, who calls himself Frankenstein in these comics because he sees himself as the heir of the mad doctor who made him.

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‘Spike’ flashback: ‘Shadow Puppets’ (2007) (Comic book review)

On my first read of IDW’s “Spike” comics, my attitude was “Why are they introducing new characters instead of using the familiar group?” That’s the curse of new characters introduced into a comic book that continues a TV narrative. Without an actor to anchor them, they seem ephemeral. But the passage of time has changed my perspective, and I warmed up to Brian Lynch’s four-issue “Shadow Puppets” (June-October 2007) on this read.

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‘Spike’ flashback: ‘Asylum’ (2006-07) (Comic book review)

I’m generally not a fan of stories about a character (and it’s almost always someone who doesn’t belong there) stuck in prison or an asylum. And I didn’t have good memories of my first read-through of Brian Lynch’s “Spike” and “Angel” work, as I probably always judged him harshly against the fact that Joss Whedon loved his storytelling and hand-picked him to tell the ongoing “Angel: After the Fall” story.

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‘Spike’ flashback: ‘Spike vs. Dracula’ (2006) (Comic book review)

When I heard that the “Buffy” Season 5 premiere would be called “Buffy vs. Dracula,” I thought it was a bad idea to bring other people’s characters into a show that was so good at developing its own characters. But the episode won me over as I realized it was about the Scooby Gang’s reaction to Dracula – starting with Buffy thinking it’s cool to meet him – and that approach carries into IDW’s five-issue series “Spike vs. Dracula” (February-June 2006).

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‘Valerian and Laureline’ flashback: ‘The Illustrated Treasury’ (2017) and ‘The Art of the Film’ (2017) (Book reviews)

As anyone who has searched the web for specific “Valerian” information knows, scholarship of this franchise is sketchy compared to, say, “Star Wars” or “Star Trek.” Two reference books have been released in English — and hopefully more will follow, including a pair of Jean-Claude Mezieres art books that are only in French for now. But here’s a look at the two books – one on the comic universe, one on the film — that are available to English readers now:

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‘Valerian and Laureline’ flashback: ‘Shingouzlooz Inc.’ (2017) (Comic book review)

One of the most remarkable things about writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mezieres’ work on “Valerian and Laureline” from 1967-2103 is how little they farmed out the characters. It wasn’t because they weren’t interested in doing that – indeed, they had wanted Luc Besson to make a “Valerian” movie for decades before it happened – but for whatever reason, “V&L” didn’t get licensed out much. Exceptions are the 2007-08 animated series and 2017 movie, both of which (perhaps owing to their respective media) are re-inventions of the “Valerian” lore, not intended to be strictly faithful.

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‘Valerian and Laureline’ flashback: ‘The Complete Collection, Volume 5’ (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 5” includes “On the Frontiers” (1988), “The Living Weapons” (1990) and “The Circles of Power” (1994). These stories are collectively known as “The New Future Trilogy.”

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‘Spike’ flashback: ‘Old Times’ (2005), ‘Old Wounds’ (2006) and ‘Lost & Found’ (2006) (Comic book reviews)

Along with the “Angel” license, IDW also picked up the “Spike” license in 2005. Although there was never a “Spike” TV show, there were enough “Spike” comics that it can be treated as a distinct line, especially since the covers feature a “Spike” logo rather than the “Angel” logo. IDW tested the waters for the title with three double-length one-shots: “Old Times” (August 2005), “Old Wounds” (January 2006) and “Lost & Found” (April 2006).

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‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (2006-07) (Comic book review)

While IDW’s “Angel” title still resists an ongoing narrative, the five-issue “Auld Lang Syne” (November 2006-March 2007) is a nice step up from the standard tortured-Angel story “The Curse” and the catching-up-with-the-gang “Old Friends.” Scott Tipton, who had shown a good grasp of Wesley in “Spotlight” and “Masks,” turns his focus to two living (well, undead) characters – Angel and Spike – in this third series set after Season 5.

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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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