"Alone Together Now"
[Issue #1 of Spike occurs around issues #37 & 39 I think, when Spike is dealing with the 'soul-flu' but before he leaves AI.]
Written by: Brian Lynch, Artist: Franco Urru, Colorist: Andrea Priorini, Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Cover by: Franco Urru and Fabio Montovani
Page 01: We open in Las Vegas, which we're informed started out evil and stayed that way. We're following random character talking on her cell phone as she tells someone on the other end about how much fun she's having. This, despite losing $300 so far and barfing up in her purse....
Page 02: Following the woman to a slot machine, she pulls up a winner! Or not.
I mean how many slot machines have A Wolf, A Ram and A Heart as a winning combination? That's right, only an EVIL slot machine of DOOM. So our 'winner' isn't so much awarded with tons of coins, so much as a gnarly looking hug-ass beetle, which is quickly joined by a flood of them.
Page 03: The Vegas casino finds itself with a ton of dead, eaten tourists.
But a voiceover lets us know that Las Vegas will be fine. You see, they've got 'the Sunnydale Effect' down to a science. There'll be a clean up crew, some bribes paid here and there and a half-off special when the place re-opens.
Our voice over complains that the city really needs a Champion....
Page 04: We then get a five second history of Spike from Dru's turning him to his trip to Africa where he "fought to have my soul restored".
Commentary: Yeah. I know. I'm in the minority on this one to the Spuffy fans. I've mentioned it before that I don't buy this interpretation of what Spike's intent was in going to Africa to "be made what I was". This has always struck me as a retroactive whitewash of Spike's intentions to make him acceptable to Buffy for S7 after nearly destroying his ongoing-star-appeal status with 'the bathroom scene'.
We're just going to have to go on disagreeing on this point.
Page 05: This page is in Spike's voiceover continuing. He compares himself with Angel as the other vampire with a soul, and considering their lineup, we could imply that Spike is still feeling the lesser of the two.
Commentary: I've always felt that the Spike character has struggled with being in Angelus' shadow as vampires, Angel's shadow as Buffy-allies, and finally as him still feeling like he isn't quite living up to Angel's example [ESPECIALLY in Buffy's eyes] when it comes to the 'vamp with a soul' legacy. It's an interesting personality quirk to Spike that I like a lot, as it often adds to really funny snark between William and Liam, but one would certainly hope that he gets over it after the debacle of BTVS: S8.
Page 06: Spike's shortened history continues as he mentions his arrival at W&H, and the events of 'After the Fall'.
When they got back, and with L.A.'s residents retaining their memories of Hell-Angelos, including many of their brutal deaths, it was only a matter of time before a movie had been made. Spike complains that his character was swapped for a woman, so there could be sexual tension with the big hero [Hah. Not Necessary.] and that he doesn't even see a dime of royalties for the whole thing.
Page 07: But, the humiliation (as Spike sees it) doesn't end there. While in W&H's L.A., Spike had a brief affair with a woman known as 'Maria'. She called herself Spider as she tended to have spidery legs extend from her spine.
Now, under the guise of 'Spider Harley', she's written an entire series of popular books about her and Spike's adventures together. Well, less "about" and more "suggested based upon".
The details of Hell-Angelos have been deeply twisted around into a copycat/thinly-veiled parody of the Twilight Saga. It the wildly popular, Twinkle Series.
These novels have also made their way to the box office, and are also proving wildly popular to his chagrin. Mostly because of Vampire-existence not being on the downlow any longer.
Page 08: With humans lining up for another Twinkle movie premiere, the vampires who find it funny and easy to prey on their self-deception over what vampires actually are decide to have a huge blood feast.
Page 09: Fortunately for the theatre-goers, Angel, Spike and Illyria are making the rounds of theatres in the area to stop just this type of thing from washing L.A. in blood.
Spike wants to pick up a "Team William" T-shirt. Angel tells him he is so wrong. Spike accuses him of jealousy.
Page 10: The gang o'three quickly dissipates the vampires.
Commentary: I really like Spike's joke to the vampire that called him one of their heroes and wanting to be just like him:
"And you are, Mate. I turned to dust, too. Find an amulet and get back to me." Heh-heh-heh.
Page 11: Spike next drops by the MOSAIC rehabilitation center for supernaturals that are trying to control their violent and destructive impulses. [MOSAIC was featured in Spike: Asylum, which I do not have but which apparently features the first meeting between Spike and Betta George and Beck, who we're about to meet here.]
Spike explains to the doctor that he's there to recruit Beck for a mission to Vegas. Beck is a human, bonded to a fire elemental that has given her pyrokinetic powers.
The doctor is worried about Spike's handling of the volatile young woman, especially where Beck has a romantic interest in the vampire. Spike assures the doc that this is work related only, and he'll have a chaperone.
Commentary: I actually find this interesting, simply because one tends to think of Spike as a 'loner', despite his being involved in team adventures. But, here, when he has a choice, he very clearly wants to have a team at his back. Obviously his years of being a Scoobie and part of Angel Investigations has had a marked affect on him.
You can definitely see this as another instance of Spike following in the steps of his denied-mentor, Angel.
Page 12: Apparently Spike was able to be convincing that he needs Beck on the team, because he's waiting for her outside the Center with Betta George. They discuss the nature of the mission, with George not at all happy that they're the 'second stringers' being farmed out without power-backup. Spike is unworried. And, tired of being in Angel's shadow.
Commentary: And, he makes a dig at Angel's and Buffy's aerial sex which completely blows the hell out of when this is supposed to be taking place. I've complained bitterly before about my continuity-anal-retentiveness and what the Angel S6 and Buffy S8 does to that whole thing. The plots between the two titles simply cannot fit together, unless Angel S6 takes place during the 12-18 months between BTVS: S7 and BTVS: S8.
Which actually works out almost very well... but then IDW throws in asides relating to the 'Twilight' debacle over in Dark Horse's title, and it makes it all extremely messy and illogical. Due to me predeliction for trying to keep a semblance of a timeline, this drives me crazy. I really wish that things occurring between Buffy and Angel/Twilight had just been completely disregarded at IDW, which would have kept things... tidy....
Page 13: Beck is escorted into Spike's care. She looks decidedly different from when last he'd seen her. And, the doctor remains concerned about her powers and so have fitted her with dampening gauntlets.
Page 14: Betta George is feeling even less good about this Spike-directed mission and again brings up Angel, which Spike again declines. In the meantime, Beck shows that mayhaps bringing her along is going to be more trouble than bargained for, when she easily flashfries her gauntlets right off her. Apparently, they had been less effective than she'd been playing back at the Center.
Commentary: I'm really not understanding why Beck is in this thing. I'm sure it may make more sense if I had Spike: Asylum and presumably there is a relationship-reason that Spike would tag her for this impromptu team, but isn't including somebody with fire powers in close combat with highly-combustible vampires a really bad idea?
Wouldn't... well, Gwen... be a better choice, maybe? Sort of a "here's your chance to score some redemption points with Connor" gambit? Because my first impression of Beck is that she's an expy for Gwen anyway.
Page 15: Spike, Beck and George barely get into the city limits of Las Vegas, before they're confronting the first strange sight. A bunch of gravity-defying Elvis impersonators.
Page 16: The Crew stop, only to find that the Elvises are being crammed against one another into a squirming, human, transformer-type combo-being. A voice rumbles around fleeing people, "Hail to the Kings, Baby!"
Commentary: OH, WHY ISN'T THIS A BUNCH OF BRUCE CAMPBELL CLONES?!?! Oh, that would have been so awesome.
'Bruce Campbells, Merge for The Kill!'
Page 17: As Betta and Beck work to pin the combined-Elvises away from the 'civilians', Spike battles his way through the torrent of impersonators to find the center of the bodies. There, he sees the Bad Guy who is causing this Elvis-Combiner.
Page 18: At the center of the Elvis pile, is a creature that looks kind of like a pinkish Sasquatch... or a wrongly colored Green Man. Anyway, he was clearly expecting Angel to intervene, and nearly laughs in Spike's face that he's the one he has to face. He crowds the Elvises around him, dislocating Spike's shoulder and threatening to cascade the human bodies on top of the other human bodies attempting to run away.
Page 19: Our Pink Man also makes it known that this is just a small sample of things to come in Las Vegas. Spike is unimpressed and swords the guy with his good arm.
Our Elvis-Combine falls apart, everyone having to pick themselves off of the street and deal with any injuries. In the meantime, Spike tells Beck that from now on Las Vegas is Spike's city... in the way Sunnydale was Buffy's and Los Angeles is Angel's.
Commentary: Again, clearly being part of the team mentality has had a profound affect on Spike.
Page 20: We skip from the street to a penthouse suite, where a phone rings. On the floor, is various wild bondage gear.
The phone is answered by a long haired hunk of fine. He's with a woman whose back is to us, but we are given a hint of who this is when the person on the other end of the phone is obviously reporting the arrival of Spike within Vegas.
Page 21: The girl, and hunky's lover, is confirmed to be Drusilla. She had visions that Spike would come to Las Vegas, and has been awaiting his arrival along with her newest boytoy (Recruit?).
Page 22: As they begin a new round of sexing, Drusilla makes it clear that she belongs to Spike and there is nothing that Hunky can do to her that will change the dynamic. He tells her that he can go one better than her:
Spike, he says, has a hold of his soul!
The Good: First, the artwork by Franco is very nice and the coloring by Andrea matches his style perfectly. I'm very happy with this team.
I like the glimpses we see into Spike's psyche, and more so, the lingering feelings he has that he's not living up to Buffy's expectations (for who else could he be trying to impress... all roads lead back to Buffy) like Angel. Though again, after the Twilight debacle, that whole oneupsmanship-ego-thing should be well put to rest.
It was nice to see Spider-legs, again. Even if only in a 'where is she now' way.
The Bad: Just the continuity snarls that occur when IDW and Dark Horse try to reference obliquely each others' titles.
Other Thoughts: I can see we're going to have a lot of meta revolving around Las Vegas [like there is so much about L.A. when dealing with Angel], and I can tell that it isn't going to be nearly as humorous as the author thinks he's being [Elvises].
I also wonder about W&H's connection with the Pink Man, and what the supernatural slot machine did. What point was there to unleashing flesh eating spiders on a casino? And is Dru tied into this, or is she there independently with her own agenda? I hope these are made clearer in the series.
I'm still a bit wary of Spike's reasoning for including a pyrokinetic with emotional-control issues on a mission in which he could expect close combat to occur. That doesn't seem very wise, or sensible.
The Score: It's a decent start on Spike's attempt to carve out his own destiny by setting himself up as a champion for Vegas. I like Drusilla being in the picture, again, especially after her ambiguous status when 'After the Fall' had begun (Angel S6, #25 - flashback).
3.50 out of 5
Next up: Movie Review, "Cemetery of Terror", aka 'Cementerio del Terror' for Halloween.