Issue 4 of 8
'You Haven't Changed A Bit'
Writer: Brian Lynch, Artist: Nicola Zanni, Colorists: Andrea Priorini and Andrea Tentori, Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Cover: Franco Urru and Fabio Mantovani
Blurb: Now that the Groosalugg has joined Team William, along with Cordy the dragon, things stop going so well for Wolfram & Hart in Sin City. But they also go weirdly for Spike when Drusilla shows up, ready to pick up where they left off.
My Blurb: Is part of Spike's name in the title being a booger in John's nostril some sort of meta-statement, or just really bad cover design?
Page 01: Dru is being held in Spike's arms as they kiss passionately. This leaves Groo bemused and Beck kinda miffed.
Commentary: I'm a huge Drusilla fan, so I'm very happy that she's taking center stage. Obvs, she and Spike cannot possibly be together so this isn't going to go well in the long run, but for right now? Their reunion is glorious.
Page 02: Spike and Dru continue their snog for a few more moments as Beck comments to Groo that she's going with her mind controlling Spike, so that Beck doesn't lose her lunch.
Spike wonders at how at home he feels with Dru in his arms... until he remembers that 'home' involves Dru banging the guy that is trying to dust him. He tosses her out of his arms with vamp-face.
Dru doesn't seem all that put out, as she also vamps-out.
Page 03: She decks Spike, telling him that the fighting part is fun too, just so long as they can return to the kissing later.
Commentary: Aw, Dru... you such the romantic.
Groo interrupts to inform Spike that the constabulary is coming to the scene, but more pressing, so is the "something winged making deathcries".
Page 04: Spike chooses a tactical retreat. He has Groo retrieve the unconscious Jeremy Johns, while Beck grabs the similar-stated Betta George. Finally, he invites Dru along -- though, I'm pretty sure he isn't sure why. He tells Team Spike that they're getting out of Vegas, while the getting is good.
Page 05: Beck plants herself in the passenger seat, but Drusilla just stares down at her until she moves to the back.
A car chase ensues, and Beck mentions that they're not going to be allowed to just drive out of town. Spike agrees.
Page 06 & Page 07: Which is why he's relying instead on Cordelia to lift 'em up and fly 'em outta there.
Commentary: And, I'll just choose here to give props to Nicola and Andreas for the artwork. I really liked the look of this issue, especially the bold coloring.
Page 08: In the now-being-carried car, Drusilla tries to snuggle up to Spike, but he pushes her off. She offers to kill one of the others to put him in a better mood. Yeah, that doesn't really work these days.
Dru calls Beck a 'naughty girl with questionable intentions', which Spike throws back on Drusilla herself, to her annoyance. When he asks if he needs to spell out the problem he's having with her, her reply is: "Yes! Make it rhyme."
Commentary: OH, I so wanted him to break out some impromptu poetry to describe the current ridiculousness of their getting back together after everything, but doesn't happen. Darn.
Page 09: Spike points out that Dru is a killer, and more importantly, she's a cheater too. Beck butts in to point out that cheating is not worse than killing in any way, but Spike accuses her of taking Dru's side. He then describes the fact that Dru has hooked up with a serial killer who'd like to kill him next... and has left his man scent all over her.
Dru is made happy by the fact he cares, totally missing the point.
Further discussion is interrupted by Groo again, to inform him of that winged-demon pursuit that they haven't outrun.
Page 10: The attackers, 'mutant showgirls'... 'cause, Vegas y'know.
They try to grab Dru out of the car, but Spike saves her.
Page 11: Beck intercedes in the battle by having Cordy use her fire breath. As a pyrokinetic, it's a cinch for her to manipulate the flames into a huge cloud of fire against their attackers. Something that she tells Drusilla, rather cattily, she may want to think about.
Meanwhile, Jeremy comes around. Betta is still out for the count from whatever Drusilla's mind did to him during his telepathic scanning.
Page 12: Our Gang reach the city limits, but only Groo riding on Cordelia is allowed to pass through. The car and its occupants slam into a shield, and makes a fall for the ground....
Page 13: The only thing that keeps them all from being broken piles, is that Jeremy still isn't back after all. He's just been possessed by one of the demons that Drusilla killed in her version of the White Room.
Now, normally Jeremy being possessed would remain of the bad. But, in this case, his demon's psychokinetic powers really come in handy. Not for the car, alas.
Page 14: With most of Team Spike stuck within Vegas, and now Groo and Cordy stuck outside of the city limits, there is some regrouping to do. And, it needs to be done relatively quickly for Spike and Drusilla's sake... the morning sun is on the rise.
Page 15: They don't have any good options, so hitch a ride with tourists back to the outskirts of town, where they hope to find a motel to crash in for the daylight hours. You can tell Dru wouldn't mind the biting and shoving out of Wife.
It does allow her to snuggle up to Spike, though, so it isn't all bad... well, expect for Beck who is being crammed against the window by Son and has to watch her crush-object being climbed on by his skanky, evil ex.
Commentary: This page was pretty funny, visually. I love that they tied Betta George like luggage to the roof of their minivan, and that the inside of the vehicle is crammed with old food wrappers, cold fries and the usual clueless midwesterners.
And, Drusilla's "You're ready. I can feel it." to Spike as she snuggles into his lap is naughty innuendo fun. And, I'd rather Spike be with Dru again, then with Beck.
Page 16: Back with W & H, they're trying to get control of their assassin, again. John is enraged by Dru's being 'dragged off' by Spike. This claim is dismissed by W & H as the inaccuracy that it is. They inform him that they wanted Spike distracted, not dead and Dru is going to do a wonderful job at that.
John does have a point though. They did hire somebody with a clear grudge... one that they themselves fostered by telling John that he lost his soul because Spike gained his... part of a balance in the universe.
He's also genuinely distraught that they'd leave his vampire girl with her ex, rather than let him get to her.
Commentary: Which, of course, presents the obvious story flaw front, center and in your face. Just why would W & H drag John into this, if they don't want Spike killed. They must have foreseen the obvious complication in this plan. In fact, why is W & H deliberately drawing attention to themselves in the first place with all the obvious demon activity, if they're trying to rebuild. Did they really think that killer-bug spewing slot machines and composite-Elvis-impersonator beings weren't going to draw attention to themselves?!
Of course, as we're about to see, W & H's entire operation is obviously in shambles and I fear the Senior Partners have undergone a shakeup in which the incompetent have been promoted. Which, actually fits well in with Angel's current storyline (well, current as in IDW's Angel title of this time) where W & H has been completely unable to deal with Myr's ascension and has to play a subservient role to Angel and Connor in order to avoid being rendered completely irrelevant.
But still, you don't get to dismiss the bad plotting of your story by commenting on the fact. Since this is a limited series, shouldn't this have all been worked out ahead of time?
Why is John here, W & H, if you didn't want Spike eliminated?
Page 17: So, back to that incompetent thing.
John has not been thoroughly frisked and has two guns up his sleeves, similar to Wes' sleeve-blade contraption. He blasts his way out of the suite.
Commentary: Except, again, we have a problem. First, John's guns cannot fit in his sleeves without magic. So, just how did W & H manage to not detect the magic he has been carrying? And if he hasn't been meant to be shown to have this gun-hiding magic, then I have to call severe bullshit on the entire gun-fu scene. Those huge cannons simply couldn't be hidden on his person and had to be out of phase, or in dimensional pocket space.
Two, John then manages to jump out of a several story building. HOW? How would he survive that?? And again, if he has some type of magic involved, then how could W & H have not already taken steps to render this inoperable when they had him in their own White Suite?
See, I really am having fun with this series, but then they leave plot holes sitting there that you can drive a Mack truck through and it damages the story. Where the hell was the Editor to point out these things to Brian when the series was being put together?
Page 18: At a motel, Beck is trying to rouse Betta George as she's feeling alone with Dru 'manipulating' Spike, Groo locked out of the city, and Jeremy being a demon in his skin.
This isn't helped by said demon pushing her buttons about Spike's abandoning her as soon as W & H manages to track them down. Threatening to burn his ass, literally, helps but she could really use somebody dependable on her side.
Page 19: In another room, Spike breaks down and tries to call Angel again for help but finds his calls not going through (well, Angel is in the future right now after all). No explanation for not calling Connor, unless W & H has completely cut out cell phone communications -- in which case, that point could have been made more clear here.
Anyway, in the bathroom, Drusilla is showering to remove John's scent from her and complaining that Beck is getting in the way of her and Spike returning to 'us'.
This claim is denied by Spike, who points out that he left 'us' behind when she went for a ride on the Chaos demon. Drusilla also brings up his penchant for Slayers, which he corrects as only being one Slayer.
Page 20: Drusilla points out that despite Buffy being so wonderful, he isn't with her (without using Buffy's trademarked name). Spike gives the potted 'went and got a soul' and 'dusted' history of BTVS: Grave and Chosen.
Commentary: And, he also goes with the "Buffy helped me want to be better", which as I've explained to everyone's annoyance I'm sure, I don't buy. This is part of the whitewash of why Spike went to Africa to "be made what I was" into "I want to be a man for Buffy" that happened in S7. Whatever. I'm not going to argue this whole thing again, until I reach the appropriate Buffy reviews.
Drusilla complains that Spike understood her at one time, until he got his soul and joined Team Slayer and everything changed... FOR HER (selfish, much).
Page 21: Dru implies that the newly-called Slayers tried to kill her, which is how she ended up in the mental hospital, wounded and lost for what to do in Angel S6, #24 & 25.
She also makes reference to 'After the Fall' and how she felt so much better when Hell came.
Commentary: What it doesn't answer, unfortunately, is the rather ambiguous ending of Issue 25 where Drusilla was at her childhood home again. Was she feeling so much better because she was in her own little comforting delusion, or did W & H set that up until they could utilize her later? Still not answered.
She embraces him, which he allows "for just a moment", as he thinks through his options on how to make their escape from W & H and John the Serial Killer.
Page 22: As he contemplates making a supernatural phone call, since the cell isn't working, he imagines the consequences with Dru there in an amusing series of panels:
Calling Angel - Leads to Angel and Dru's complicated history of madness and torture.
Calling Illyria - Leads to her plunging a sword through Dru.
Calling Connor & Gunn - Leads to them arguing more about Gunn having killed Connor in Hell-Angeles, then actually helping Spike.
Calling Wesley's Ghost - Leads to him stating he can't do very much since he's a ghost.
But, that does give him an idea of who may provide the assistance he needs.
Commentary: And, I was hoping for Lorne... but no. "Let's go with The Witch" must be Willow... especially since the next issue's cover is blatant about it.
The Good: I am really liking the artwork.
I really like everything having to do with Spike and Drusilla's history, even the asides by Beck.
Having the attacking demon force be showgirls was cute.
The Bad: Nothing so badly done as to end up here, but....
Other Thoughts: Unfortunately, John's involvement in this story remains severely muddled in what, exactly, W & H wanted him for if not to kill Spike. Yes, I can see them having brought him there to kill Angel should he turn up to oppose them, as expected since the Shanshu thing is pretty much a dead issue, but as soon as Spike turned up instead they could have sent him on a 'mission' far away. One that was too dangerous for Dru to go with... leaving her as the weapon against Spike.
And, how does John continue to be allowed to act against W & H's interests with impunity... HE'S JUST A GUY... why can't they easily handle one human being?
Finally, just how long is Betta George going to be kept conveniently 'off panel'? Why include him at all, if he was going to be rendered unconscious through so much of the title?
I have a slight worry about including Willow, just because she's more of a Buffy character, but I don't object to seeing her so we'll have to see how she ends up handled.
The Score: This was a fun romp, escaping from W & H and with plenty of side-glances between Dru and Beck. I really liked the interactions between Spike and his old paramour and I liked the fun battle scene. But, the whole use of John's continuing involvement after he's shown himself to be an extreme hinderance to his bosses is really bugging me. Why is W & H not simply rendering him irrelevant, or simply eliminating him.
3.50 out of 5
Next up: Spike #5