IDW produced three “Angel” one-shots in the final three years of its run. All of these double-length issues are finales of sorts, and there’s a touch of comedy or lightness to them – “Last Angel in Hell” puts a bow on the “After the Fall” era, “Lorne: Music of the Spheres” is the final Lorne story and “Yearbook” is the last publication in IDW’s Angelverse.
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.
Seeing the success of “Buffy” Season 8 and learning that Brian Lynch’s pitch for an “Angel” “Season 6” lined up closely with his plans before the TV show was canceled, Joss Whedon launched “Angel: After the Fall” in 2007. Although it makes some of IDW’s previous work hard to fit into the continuity, it goes without saying that it’s great to get Whedon’s canonical story of what happens to Angel and company after the cliffhanger of “Not Fade Away” (5.22).
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).
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.
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.
After a mediocre start with “The Curse” and “Old Friends,” IDW’s “Angel” title picks up steam with “Spotlight” (2006), five issues that focus, respectively, on Doyle, Wesley, Gunn, Connor and Illyria. With the exception of the Season 1-set “Doyle,” they are set during Season 5. Rather than just throwbacks to the old days, they flesh out narrative gaps and allow us to not only get reacquainted with the characters, but actually to know them better. Yes, IDW is still treading water before aggressively continuing the narrative post-Season 5, but “Spotlight” is a great way to tread water.