Spike #3 (of 8)
'Everybody Loves Spike'
writer: Brian Lynch, artist: Nicola Zanni, colorists: Andrea Priorini & Andrea Tentori, letterer: Robbie Robbins
cover: Franco Urru & Fabio Mantovani
Blurb: In Vegas Spike discovers that the Big Bad is Wolfram & Hart. But what are they actually up to? Spike has to try and free his friend Jeremy from a demon's clutch, deal with a nutjob named John who thinks Spike has his soul, and keep Beck from burning the place down. Which is all well and good until the 4th person in Team Spike finally shows up...
Page 01: We open with a flashback to 'a little while ago'... sometime before Angel's future!jumping. We're with The Groosalugg (remember Groo is a title, not actually a name) in an enchanted forest populated, as he says, with "Creatures I have dubbed 'Tree-Hemoths'... trying to show their dominance over campers".
Groo receives a call on his cell, which turns out to be Angel. Groo at first is pleased to be receiving a call to arms, until he finds out it actually isn't for Angel, but on behalf of Spike. Groo decides a call to arms is a call to arms, so he'll pitch in, but he warns Angel that he's in a very good emotional place right now and doesn't want Spike mocking him.
Page 02: Back in the here and now, Groo has just saved Spike with the help of his dragon-steed, and Angel-friend, Cordelia the Dragon. This in no way stops Spike from mocking Groo's call to arms.
Page 03: Meanwhile, from within the all white suite, Jeremy is reading John the riot act for ruining W & H's plan to stay lowkey. John meanwhile summons a new bazooka to fire a surface to air rocket at Cordelia. The dragon is able to dodge the first firing, and Spike leaps from her neck to the big hole in the wall so he doesn't get a second chance.
Page 04: With Spike back in the white suite, Jeremy reveals the demon within's form, as he summons reinforcements. He's very worried about John's killing of Spike because he doesn't want the other higher-ups in W & H to get involved in his project.
The demon Tor is quite unhappy with the turn things have taken due to John's desire to kill Spike on behalf of Drusilla.
Page 05: Speaking of which, she wanders into the suite next in an escalation of the madcap attempt to subdue Spike without actually seriously hurting him... or getting themselves killed.
Dru had an apparent W & H hired 'minder', so Tor is a bit put out to find her wandering about. Drusilla explains that most of the minder is still in her rooms, though some of him is stuck under her fingernails. She's come up because she sensed Spike was there.
Commentary: Now, last time we saw Drusilla she was slaughtering a mental hospital just prior to 'After the Fall'. When LA went to Hell, Drusilla was then left in an ambiguous position. It's possible she was shunted to an illusory place; it's also possible she was in a delusion of her own making; it's possible she was in a white room environment at that time. The point is she was revisiting her childhood home as Angel and company was fighting W & H in Hell-Angeles which makes it interesting that she's here now under W & H's care.
Was she here before? Or did she just travel with John, her new paramour/bed stud?
Page 06: At street level, Betta and Beck see Groo's arrival via Cordelia which would be a bit hard to miss. No doubt they saw the explosive fireball from the rocket launched at the dragon. Beck wants to get up to the penthouse to backup Spike, but George wants to stay put as per the vampire's request. He tells Beck that he has a direct line to Spike's mind, and ergo, will know if Spike really wants them up there. But Beck counters that is only true if Spike knows he needs the help.
They invade the hotel lobby, with Beck quick frying the vampire security and causing more spectacle.
Page 07: Even more against W & H's whole "keep our head down" philosophy is Groo getting his picture taken by other penthouse residents from other buildings on board his dragon.
Groo and Cordelia's air support for Spike is interrupted by more forces of the law firm as they come under attack by an air squadron of its own.
Commentary: You can just imagine Angel sitting slumped in a chair, hand over face in front of a cable news breaking story alert on television, damning Spike for not being able to do anything without making a huge, attention-seeking production out of it. And moaning at himself for 'allowing' Spike to be left to his own devices in the first place. I really like that image.
Page 08: Meanwhile, back in the white room, Spike performs a double-neck snap as the attacking W & H demons insist that vampires are the real evil ones while W & H are only 'questionable'.
Page 09: Another huge demon grabs up Spike and easily hauls him off of the ground. The demon, as per his orders, tries to get Spike to stand down. His answer is to get run through with a sword from behind by John, who is not the least bit interested in bringing this conflict to a peaceful resolution as per his boss' request.
Page 10: Meanwhile, at the same place, but out of phase with Jeremy's body, John and Spike is Drusilla. She can see the possessing demon of Jeremy and slits its throat with a large axe. From Spike's perspective, Jeremy's body is just gagging incoherently and leaving him confused as to what is going on, but Dru can see Spike just fine.
Commentary: This part got a little confusing, because I thought for a bit that Dru wasn't here physically after all. I thought that this was all occurring in her mind as a psychic event. But now, do to her interaction with Beck and George in a bit, that she is here physically but on a differing plane than Jeremy's body, Spike and John.
She reaches out for her Spike, but he fades out of her reach.
Page 11: She complains at Tor that he's being cruel to her, but then realizes he's just being dead instead. But Tor does still have two bodyguards (that did zero good obviously) with him on this plane. Drusilla quickly takes care of them as well when they try to interfere with her reaching Spike.
Page 12: As Drusilla elates over Spike having 'come for her', he's more worried about Jeremy who has dropped without explanation in his part of the white room.
Page 13: Which makes him turn his back on John... which wasn't wise.
John presses a nerve cluster in Spike's neck, causing paralysis and leaving him at John's mercy.
Commentary: Spike is also railing at Jeremy not to die on him 'again'. This is a reference to 'Spike: After the Fall', where they met. Jeremy was one of the prisoners with Spike and Illyria of Non. Non was about to suck Jeremy's lifeforce to enhance her strength. Spike yelled at Illyria to stop this, and her solution was to put her fist through Jeremy's chest killing him instantly so Non could not utilize him.
Naturally, he was restored once W & H reversed what they did when there plans for Angel didn't go as they thought due to the interference of vampire!Gunn.
Page 14: John gloats that he has spent a lot of time killing vampires... well... torturing to death really, and he has such plans for Spike. But Spike, to John's amazement, is able to resist his paralysis and strike back.
Page 15: Spike is about to have a power moment, but is interrupted by the return Groo who warns him about the fleet of insects, which he also gives a nickname to just like with the tree spirits. This allows John to make an escape, but at least Spike can retrieve Jeremy and gives him a chance at saving his friend.
Interestingly, he also indentifies John as human. Apparently, he's just a real badass who also happens to be a psychopathic killer. And, involved with Drusilla but not vamped.
Commentary: This was a bit of a nice mislead, because John is shown biting Dru's neck while they were in bed at the end of issue 1. But, we don't actually see any fangs when he's grinning madly a few panels later and complaining Spike has his soul.
What I think we need next though, is an explanation for why John would settle on Spike as 'his' soul carrier. Was it just Dru's constant stories about her lost love that created a delusion in him, since he'd always been so 'empty'? Are they going to mess with the idea that Spike's soul isn't William... which would play into the discarded idea of Spike's losing it in the Angel title - later explained away as a metaphysical flu.
Hmm. I hope they don't goof around too much with Spike's ensouledness by the human William but we'll have to wait and see how this is shaking out (by the by, I never did read this one past issue 1 so I have no idea -- no particular reason, it was just on my 'to do' list that I never got around to).
Page 16: In the meantime, there is chaos in the lobby as Beck and George try to make it upstairs to the penthouse, with Beck indiscriminately setting fires everywhere. They happen to run into the now-wandering Drusilla in the stairway.
Page 17: Drusilla senses that Beck knows Spike... but not as much as she wishes she did. This freaks Beck out and she sets George on her. George tries a psychic flash meeting to find out who Drusilla is and how she knows Spike, but that is apparently not a good idea...
Page 18: ... George finds Dru's mind a bit too much to handle and ends up unconscious. Dru introduces herself to Beck as part of Spike's family and Beck leads her toward a set of elevators.
Page 19: Meanwhile, Groo and Spike have returned to Spike's suite across town with Jeremy. They're going to wait there for Beck and Betta to eventually rendevous with them, while trying to come up with a plan to keep W & H from retaliating too badly, as is their MO.
Which... a bit late to worry about that. The entire suite blows apart, fortunately before Groo and Spike get that far. The building is sheared to pieces.
Commentary: Maybe it's just because I'm an American, but did anyone else get a moment of intense discomfort with that panel showing the building coming down?
Page 20: As more chaos erupts in Vegas, now that W & H pretty much let go of that attempt at lowkey, Spike berates himself for being one step behind what they would reasonably do, what with his resisting them, invading their white suite and messing the joint up including taking their man's body away from them [as he has no idea the possessing demon isn't an issue anymore, due to Dru].
Page 21: As Groo and Cordelia work to free trapped people in the hotel's rubble, Beck shows up swearing to Spike that she didn't have anything to do with this explosion. A small fire in the W & H casino, but nothing to do with this disaster....
Spike also decides that things have escalated out of control and chooses a tactical retreat from Vegas before anyone else around his team can be caught in the crossfire.
Page 22: But finding out about Beck's adventure and why George is unconscious will have to wait along with the Jeremy situation, as Spike first scents and then see Drusilla. He is in shock to see her and considers she may be an illusion.
Page 23: Until she proves her reality by jumping on him and planting a huge kiss on his mouth.
Something which Beck isn't so keen about.
The Good: I like Groo's reaction to not being summoned to help Angel, but Spike.
I continue to like John's focus on Spike, in spite of his employer's desires in this regard.
I liked most of the fight scenes in the white room, and Cordelia's blasting the killer bugs with her firebreath.
The Bad: I wouldn't put anything here.
Other Thoughts: I did find Dru being in the white room confusing on the first read, but once you take into account its weird dimensional space-mojo, it all makes more sense. And, the interaction between Beck, Betta and Drusilla weren't nearly fun enough for such a situation. I did like George being taken down by wandering in Drusilla's messed up head, and I do look forward to more information about how she ended up with John and his bizarre claims on Spike's soul... but I am also worried they're going to play around with the nature of Spike's soul again, when we know how well that went last time. Artwork wise, I like most of it but there are a few... uh... not so convincing portions as related to Drusilla (page 11, last panel and page 12, first panel and page 18, third panel).
The Score: There isn't a lot to think about, or comment on simply because this is a 'middle issue' and is mostly battling. But, it's entertaining enough.
3.50 out of 5
Next up: Angel #41