Angel + Spike
Writer: Zac Thompson, Artwork: Hayden Sherman & Roman Titov, Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Ben Templesmith
Page 01: We open on a fisheye view of Los Angeles. We focus our attention on an alleyway between skyrises, where the downtrodden are gathered in a makeshift tent community.
Voiceover tells us someone was a man once, before they discovered loss, and now they don't know what they are.
Page 02: Our voiceover is, naturally, Angel - being morbid and self-obessed.
He blathers on about his beliefs as a man, and his behavior as a monster both hanging around his neck. He worries over Fred, missing for weeks now. He whines about the Slayer not seeing him as anything but a monster and the burden of his trying to prove he can be a saint by atoning for his sins unendingly. He mourns he can't be a man, but only a hungry shade at best.
In the meantime, a white-furred surrounded eye is spying on our homeless residents. And then there is a flurry of attacks. One man survives long enough to run, but is caught at a fence.
Page 03: Blood splatters across a sign on the fence, and we see our runner left torn apart in a bloody mess.
But enough of that, because we have more of Angel's whining about himself. He's a vampire, he can't make up for what he's done, he's always tempted by the blood surging around him everyday in the people he meets.
Can we give it a rest on Angel's "I'm a bad, bad man, but not really a man... woe is me." We get it. We've heard this all before, and you're not doing anything new with this self-indulgence, Writers.
Page 04: At Angel's, Spike is asking why they should care if a demon is tearing apart tramps. Angel isn't amused. Lilith has given them this information, and she's focused on Angel. She tells him that he needs to find this creature and stop him. It'll be important on his self-described mission to redeem himself as he travels the road to his final fate.
As Lilith takes her leave, Kate calls Angel. At the same time, Spike tries to talk down Charles' insistence that their body-ripping, bone-tearing bad guy has to be his old foe, Lucas.
Commentary: Okay, so I do like that our characters are getting back to mentioning their various subplots that have kinda been wayward: Fred's missing with W&H, still and the entire reason that Charles Gunn is out there fighting monsters in the first place. But it also feels a bit ham-handed to have Gunn very suddenly so sure that this is his boyhood friend's killer. The modus operandi of the vampire, Lucas, is not in this alleyway in the least.
Page 05: Kate meets Angel at the site, which is remarkably not cordoned off or having inconvenient authority combing the site of such a spectacular bloodbath. Angel and Kate do some uncomfortable - while trying to sound professional - flirting, with Kate telling Angel she hasn't yet let go of maybe they're being a bunch of boys dressing in black and playing detectives.
Spike eye-rolls behind Angel's shoulder.
Gunn, meanwhile, is posting an update to his instagram - or whatever - that he's back in his target's area and there has been more bloodshed. He's still convinced that after ten years of looking, he's found Lucas. This, despite Spike pointing out that this isn't a vampire-mode attack due to the gallons of blood wasted.
Commentary: Yes, Spike. Which is why this insistence on Charles' pathos over this being Lucas feels poorly addressed. Even someone suddenly re-obsessed should see this isn't a vampire. Even if Lucas wasn't only hunting children, his being there and doing this is nonsense, and Gunn looks like an idiot.
Page 06: As Kate and Angel are standing around in a river of blood, Gunn takes off to follow the trail of human debris. Spike takes off after him, trying to point out that he's going to get himself killed.
In the meantime, Kate and Angel also start following the bloody trail left behind. Angel complains that this feels like a distraction to him, complaining that what he should be doing right now is trying to find Fred.
Kate tries to comfort him that he can't do everything for everybody and needs to give himself a break.
Page 07: As Kate touches his face in comfort, she suddenly gets a clear vision of her former self - the warrior, turned vampire - Mara. She's with Angelus, fighting a village of angry people and slaughtering them mercilessly.
She feels the blood-hunger. He feels the attraction to Angelus' biting her, and wanting him to do it again.
Kate pulls away, shocked and shaken, but blows off Angel's returned concern for her.
Page 08: Meanwhile, Fred is being inundated with her new responsibilities as the host of Baphomet at the W&H LA complex. The administrative assistant in charge of guiding her through her new role as head of the company is enthused to tell her all about the evil that she's in charge of now.
It's more than a little over the top.
Page 09: Fred is existing inbetween the physical and mental world now, as Baphomet also attempts to mold her into being his recepticle. Fred tries to resist hurting anyone, but he's insistent that she needs to stop being insolent.
In the meantime, our assistant is leading Fred to a special room to deal with a prominent drug manufacturer who has come clean to authorities about their illegal price gouging and will need to be punished.
Commentary: I hated this page. Fred sounds spoiled and girlish, instead of somebody whose spirit is being corrupted by an ancient evil. And, I'm pretty sure that our administrative assistant is supposed to be funny, but W&H's ridiculous level of mustache-twirling is way overdone. I did like the panel showing a celebratory luncheon taking place that included a bit of cannibalism - but W&H is coming across as a parody, instead of a threat. I don't like it.
Page 10: Fred is unsure of exactly what to do, but she's instructed to raise her hands and think of death. The unfortunate Mr. S. is immediately immolated in green fire.
Fred has a delighted grin on her face.
Page 11: Back in the alleyway, Angel finds tattered clothing. From through a wall, Spike suddenly comes flying off of his feet, where he slams next to them. He shouts for them to get some silver, right quick.
Angel mishears him, and Spike - almost sounding a bit panicked - yells for them to find some silver.
Page 12: From through the broken wall, comes a huge, white, werewolf! He's towering above the vampires, and cop in front of him. Of Gunn, we've no sign.
Page 13: Kate pulls her gun, and shouts at the werewolf to not move. This gets her a well-deserved backhand.
Angel shouts at the werewolf about how they're always pooping on everything, and they stink, and they have no manners with all of the bloody rampaging. He punches the wolf several times to the gut.
Page 14: It doesn't work well, and Angel finds himself picked up from around his middle into the werewolf's huge jaws.
Spike rushes to Angel's aid, but not without making a comment about Angel sweating like a sub in a sauna -- appropo of nothing.
Gunn has made his return, and takes to the wolf with an ax. He's caught off-guard by Spike's weird comment, and since talking is a free action, can ask wth that was about. Spike shares that after 200 years, you can start trying kinky shit, and offers the virtues of the leather daddy community.
In the meantime, Angel is lying on the alley floor, and noticing the amount of blood he's got leaking from everywhere.
Gunn returns to his Lucas-obsession, shouting at the wolf that he knows the vampire put him up to attacking this area and demands to know where the vampire is hiding. Spike opines to himself/us that werewolves are just huge, dumb and hairy violent instincts running around, and Gunn is going to get all of them killed with his ridiculousness.
In the meantime, the werewolf has been knocked off of its feet. Charles shoves a cellphone picture of his dead friend, Tyler, in his face and demands answers on Lucas.
Commentary: Oh, god. There is so much wrong with this page. I don't know how Angel managed to get himself lodged between the werewolf's jaws as depicted. I can't explain why Spike would tell Angel he's sweating, when surely he'd smell Angel's blood all over, not to mention seeing it running out of his torn body. I can't fathom the leather-daddy aside in this context. I don't understand why Gunn is even hearing this weird comment when he's literally standing toe-to-toe with a monster that just tried to rip Angel in half. What the fuck is this "Lucas put you up to this!" being shouted at a rampaging werewolf?? What the fuck is this trying to get a rampaging werewolf to recognize an old photo of your dead friend, because you think Lucas wasted time recruiting a werewolf to attack some homeless... to, uh, draw you there?!!
What the mutha-fuck, Zac?!?
The werewolf design is cool, though. Way better than the attempts on BTVS.
Page 15: Gunn gets super-swatted away, deservedly [and as depicted, his body should be lying broken].
In the meantime, Spike taunts our wolf-man, while thinking that he's really going to need Angel back in the fight to deal with this one. Luckily for him, Angel does return now with a broken pipe to take upside the wolf's head.
Spike snarks that he didn't ask for Angel's help. Angel retorts back that he could leave. Spike offers instead to leave the werewolf to him, since he's playing all big hero to the rescue. Something that only results in Angel's being nearly flattened under the wolf's huge hands. He shouts for Spike to just help out, already, and Spike takes the opportunity to revel in Angel's officially asking him for assistance.
They double-fist punch the wolf-man, and then spend some time dodging claw swipes.
Kate returns now, to take a shot at the werewolf.
Commentary: Liking the snark with Spike and his thoughts betraying that he needed Angel, while his mouth taunts Angel for needing him. That was good character stuff, and actually a small bit of amusement.
Page 16: The gunshot gets our wolf-man's attention, but doesn't actually inconvenience it in the slightest.
Angel orders Spike to get between the wolf and Kate, which Spike does by helpfully being pummeled to the ground. In the meantime, Angel grabs up Gunn's dropped phone and crushes it. He throws the debris straight down the werewolf's gullet.
Silver is, in fact, a component metal used in cellphones.
Page 17: Our wolf, instantly reacts badly to even this trace amount of silver being introduced to its system. It collapses - alas for Spike - on top of him in a heap.
While Spike complains for somebody to get the lug off of him, Angel is seeing to Kate. Spike notices the look in Angel's eye when he's staring down at Kate, and offers he's seen that glint before in Angelus and worries.
Commentary: So, ignoring the poor attempts at humor, the weird asides and Gunn's entire involvement, I did like the fight against the werewolf. They made the beast a real menace, that even the vampires had to take as a deadly threat.
Page 18: Sometime later, as dawn is rising, the gang regroup at Angel's. Gunn is a mess over not finding any hint of Lucas - again, and putting the team as risk with his obsessive focus.
Spike and Angel do the best they can to wave it off.
Page 19: Charles' answer to his anger, is to turn it on others and he angrily tells Angel that they shouldn't have been wasting time on werewolf cleanup, when Fred is still out there.
Angel tries to point out to Gunn that things aren't that simple, but Charles - exhausted - stomps out to go to bed. Kate offers maybe not letting him go off in a huff, but Angel tells her that's exactly what they'll do for now.
Spike offers that with daylight, they should be able to find out who their wolfman is.
Page 20: Our rampaging, murderous wolf turns out to be Oz. He apologizes for pooping in the cage, where he's been relocated.
The Good: I liked the introduction of our Wolfman, and later, the battle royale against it.
The interactions between Angel and Spike in the thick of a fight are amusing, and well written.
The Bad: I hated Gunn's handling through this whole issue, and by extension, Spike's interactions with Gunn during the werewolf melee.
Other Thoughts: I have mixed feelings on the Angel/Kate will-they-or-won't-they thing. I'm kinda annoyed that Mara's intro was just to set up Kate in a reincarnation romance subplot, but some of the interactions between Angel and Kate are cute.
More mixed feelings on Fred: I'm liking that we're doing something new with her character, and her swimming in evil is an interesting twist on the character. But the W&H stuff is SO over the top, that it's parody. Since we're - one would think - supposed to be worried about her and her rescue, it strikes the wrong tone. Her interactions with Baphomet are more threatening.
I don't like this introduction for Oz -- it seems uncaring that he'd be out there when he's going to wolf-out, which is a 180-degree turn from his original character, and a change I'm not welcoming. On the other hand, his wolf-man is way more dangerous than he ever got to be in BTVS. And I do like that a lot. I also like Oz being introduced in Angel so that this character isn't coming with the baggage of being Willow's ex-boyfriend, so we can explore him anew.
The Score: This issue was a real mixed bag. And I'm really-not lovin' the artwork by Hayden. But the werewolf battle raised the score a bit. But there was so much wrong with Gunn's characterization. And W&H went from an attempt at satire right into parody, that felt inappropriate to the situation with Fred. Nah, I didn't like it.
2.75 out of 5 stars