"Boys and Their Toys" (2/2)
Written by: Brian Lynch, Art by: Stephen Mooney, Colors by: Tom Smith/Scorpion Studios, Letters by: Robbie Robbins,
Edited by: Chris Ryall
Cover A: Stephen Mooney
Page 01: We open on chaos as the spell to Janus cast last issue has turned a convention into a melee. We get a parody right off as it seems every single person affected has been given a personal and tragic history in which their parents were killed and that's why they became a hero/villain.
It's not all chaotic fun however, as we see one of our super-people stabbed through the back by a mute/deaf ninja who was raised by older ninjas, but they were stabbed and killed.
With all of the super-powers/weapons around, this could quickly turn into a bloodbath....
Page 02: We see Spike-as-Angel stopping the deaf/mute ninja, who never the less can talk just fine.
His inner monologue includes "I am so good and so boring", "I'm cardboard with a conscious" (which should be conscience) and "I'm white bread wrapped in leather".
Page 03: The deaf/mute ninja, who nonetheless speaks just fine, asks who Spike is... which is impressive, since he's being bashed into a wall at that exact moment.
Spike reveals he is Angel... although movie-Angel, not actually Angel-Angel.
Angel-Angel is lying on the floor wounded, but has the strength to struggle out, "No, you're not. Stop it."
Commentary: I know, I know, it's so minor and making fun of Angel has become common enough in Angel to almost become cliche... I still find it funny.
Page 04: Angel has made it up again... and somehow his shirt both heals as fast as he does... and changes color between panels.
Commentary: Continuity, people. Your on the same damned page! Okay, let's just put it down to the magical effects of the chaos spell....
Anyway, the Care Bear demons lament that there isn't enough snuggling at Sci-Fi conventions and resolve to fix that.
Meanwhile Spike-as-movie-Angel figures out that he can save time by not waiting to mope until after a fight, when he could be fighting and moping at the same time.
Groo tells Angel-Angel that he actually likes Spike more when he's crossbred with him.
Page 05: Angel hopes that the riot around them is being caused by something in the auction room (NO! Not the memorabilia!) and grabs a Human Torch type superpowered guy who warns he's about to explode all over the place. He tosses him into the room of auction stuff just as the guy detonates.
Commentary: Actually, I'm not sure that the writers actually thought about this one. Angel was pretty cold here... instead of putting the guy out, he lets him explode (and die) in order to stop what is happening.
Spike joins him, harranguing and lamenting at once, "What are you doing down here? The fight isn't over. The fight is never over. That exploding man died in vain, now we have to cry over him and then stand on a rooftop and then we have to save the day at zero hour. Don't make me whine all over you."
Commentary: Again, this is a slight continuity hiccup. Spike is supposed to be the movie-version of Angel, in keeping with his costume. I don't see Action-Movie Angel being this close in personality to Angel-Angel, so Spike shouldn't quite be this much a parody of him. I'll let that slip by too, though, since we're making fun of Angel.
Page 06: Spike-as-Angel commands Groo to find whatever is causing people to become their costumes to be found and destroyed. He adds, "And mourn Explodo. He was a valuable part of the team. I'd say he was a friend but friendship is a dance this vampire must sit out."
Angel repeats to stop it. He decides to team up with Jeremy. Jeremy calls him Angel #2. Groo teams up with Spike-as-Angel, and Groo tells them all that henceforth people will call him Spangel.
Angel replies, "No, they won't. Ever."
Commentary: See, that's funny. That is really funny. The lines at Angel's expense and the tweaking the nose of fandom is hilarious here.
Page 07: Outside the convention hall, those who weren't dressed in free costumes are fleeing. One man runs straight into an obvious demon, but mistakes him for another spell affected convention goer. It doesn't really matter, since the towering being he run into has an axe. Exit one unaffected convention goer.
Commentary: Okay, this demon is seriously disturbing. He's half-naked and he's barely being kept from hanging out all over by being wrapped in pink tentacles growing out of his back. Ew.
Page 08: Back inside, Jeremy Kung-Fu Master and Unaffected Angel search for the source of the chaos around them. Jeremy tells Angel that used-to-be-Spike would often wonder what Angel would do when they were back in Hell. Angel starts to comment that that doesn't sound much like Spike, when Jeremy adds that he would then mock him.
They're interrupted by the participants from a Zombie Movie Panel discussion.
Page 09: While we have Vampire vs. Zombie vs. Kung-Fu Master action, Spike-as-Angel and Groosalugg run into Aliens.
Page 10: While Groo readies for dodging laser blasts to take out their attackers, Spike-Angel decides they're just afraid and need his help. He gets a bit aggressive in his touchy-feely-ness.
Page 11: The 'aliens' don't respond well to this and go on the attack, which causes Spike-Angel to shout at them, "Unhand my companion [Groo]! Do not underestimate me! The soft talk is just a distraction. I lull you into a near-coma with my reverse-personality and then take you out with my fists of sexually frustrated vampire rage!"
Commentary: Poor Angel, he's just mocked up and down in his own title. I like it. A lot. Spike gets the best lines in this issue.
Page 12: Spike-as-Angel is confronting one of their number, when the guy is suddenly explodes in a fireball. Above them, one of the superheroes with heatvision yells out to the other heroes that there is an attempted secret invasion near the pretzel kiosk. Groo tries to yell at them not to kill them because they don't know what they do... then realizes that the super heroes aren't really aware of what they're doing either.
Spike-as-Angel, however, suddenly comes up with a plan....
Page 13: Meanwhile, Angel-Angel is coming up with much the same plan at the same time by the looks of it. He stops 'Admiral Stupendous'... who is obviously dressed as a knock-off version of Captain Marvel (Fawcett/DC's creation, not Marvel's) with a Hyperion cape. Angel recruits Stupendous to gather the other heroes together to help them end what is happening.
Commentary: Why it took half of this issue to think of this, I have to wonder. I also have to wonder about some of these 'heroes' being so quick to kill everything else. One of the cliche's of the comic book genre is how many of the heroes go out of their way to not really hurt anyone too badly, even in life and death situations. There must be a lot of anti-heroes in this crowd, but this seems like a missed opportunity for a hero vs. anti-hero brawl over what to do with the 'villains'....
Page 14: Angel turns to Jeremy to inform him of the new plan, but finds him out and being held off of the floor by the disturbingly dressed demon. His senses tell him that the newcomer isn't any altered human, but a demon who is 'lived in'. This doesn't actually help him though, since he gets a bloodied nose and knocked to the floor.
Page 15: Angel is surprised when disturbingly dressed demon reveals he actually isn't there to assassinate Angel as all, but to kill Spike.
Page 16: Fortunately, Spike's voice comes over the loud speaker and demon recognizes him even without his accent - which he comments on. This distraction is enough for Angel to grab an pen, and to land it in the demon's eye.
Page 17: Spike-Angel's voice continues over the loudspeaker, using Angel's plan to have the superheroes use their various powers to find the object they need to destroy to "save the world".
It's a line, but it gets them to stop the random brawling. Unfortunately, because Spike-Angel is using Angel-Angel's plan in his own unsubtle Spike way, now those who were dressed as super villains are also aware of a powerful mystical object and also want to find it... and to stop the heroes from getting to it first....
Page 18: While the super heroes and the super villains start to fight over finding the reality-bending mystic doodad, the demon who was temporarily blacked out due to the pen in his eye comes to with a newfound respect for Angel-Angel's reputation. In the meanwhile, Angel-Angel spots something....
Page 19: ... It's not the Janus statue though. It's a kid wearing Jeremy's wizard costume.
He convinces the boy wizard to use a locator spell to find the cause behind the transformations, bribing him with swag to perform the spell.
Page 20: Our Janus-using duo, believing this will make everyone transformed think of them as gods for bringing out their fantasies notice that their statue is suddenly glowing and twitching.
They try to grab it, but "The All-Powerful Mighty Linus'" locator spell whisks the statue to Angel-Angel's location.
Page 21: On his cellphone, Spike-Angel is speaking to Angel-Angel, but starts to wonder if he's actually speaking to Angelus and that his cellphone call is symbolic. He chooses to trust his other self though and does what he wants... which is to warn all of the flying costumers to land before the spell is broken. One of these is obviously Hal Jordan again, only in pink or magenta or chartreuse or something.
Page 22: With the smashing of the statue, the spell ends and everything returns to normal. Everyone keeps vague memories of their time with powers, but everything that happened is negated, including the deaths (with the exception, one would think, of the guy who had his head cleaved by disturbingly dressed demon).
In the men's room, Groo confronts the no-longer-Care-Bear demons with the Flaming Sword, which is no longer destroyed... along with the hovering skateboard that Groo also took....
Page 23: Spike and Angel have a talk about how they're more alike these days than either would care to admit. Spike has gotten insight into Angel's obsession with being accountable for everything that happens to someone else and Angel tells Spike he's seen how much he cares for the people around them.
Spike finally asks Angel about it getting any easier as time goes on, but Angel can't tell him that it will.
In the meantime, someone out there still wants Spike dead and the assassin has vanished....
The Good: Spike and Groo's dialog is pretty funny throughout. I really enjoyed the commentary on Angel as a character and Spike's exaggerated view of him.
The story keeps a brisk pace and all of those chances to reference comic book characters is fun. You'll spot Dr. Doom, among others. Many are DC Characters whose look I recognize, but I don't know their names off hand. It's still fun picking out the references.
I know that I've stated before that Spike's story really should have ended at the finale of BTVS: Chosen, and I still feel that way. But, since he did come back in AtS: S5, I like the way that he's being compared and contrasted to Angel.
Jeremy was much less annoying as Kung-Fu Master than he was in last issue.
The Bad: I didn't find anything badly done in this issue.
Other Thoughts: This is a minor plot with a jokey story that isn't meant to be taken seriously, so on that level, I enjoyed myself.
The Score: Not much else to say really... it was a fun, little self-referential romp....
3.75 out of 5.