Boom!Angel + Spike
Writer: Zac Thompson, Artwork: Hayden Sherman & Roman Titov, Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Christopher J. Mitten
Page 01: We open in Angel's basement, where Spike, Angel and Kate are gazing in at a cell holding Oz. Our werewolf reports to a skeptical audience that he's not their killer, and that there are at least two and possibly three other wolves hanging out on skid row.
He warns the gang that they have to catch up with the beasts that evening, or they'll be gone for another month. Spike scoffs, but Angel is willing to take a chance that this Oz fellow is telling the truth -- as long as he acts as their bait to draw the other wolves to them.
Commentary: Okay, overlooking the artwork of which I won't be a fan - this alternate Oz is very much not our familiar Oz. We need to just get that out of the way, right now. He's way too verbose and blunt, and he uses y'all and 'em. There is no trace of Seth Green's laconic character in this Oz. Fine. I'll deal with that.
But I must know WTH are those shin-high flood pants that Spike is wearing?! I just cannot with his outfit.
Page 02: Up in the main house, now, Oz is pigging out on fast food. Spike objects to keeping Oz around, because he doesn't like nor trust anybody who is a were-beast. He insists on dropping this whole thing to refocus on finding wherever Gunn has run off to and rescueing Fred from wherever she's gotten to.
Angel points out to Spike that he can't just summon Gunn or Fred back, and since they've started this werewolf hunt, they should see it through. Kate chimes in about Oz being a kid and having nowhere to go. She offers that they can help each other out.
Spike tries to warn them about a nine year old werewolf that tore out his throat in Lithuania, but Angel points out he was there and that isn't what happened.
Oz reminds everyone that he can actually hear them. He also tells them that they just need to put a really strong chain around his neck, and "one of you vampire daddies can hold onto me all night". Angel starts to object, but whether he was going to deny being a vampire or a 'daddy', we don't know. Oz interrupts to point out that he can smell the blood hunger on both our vamps but tells them he's not one to judge. He also points out the practical that they'll need his help to find their killers.
Commentary: And he talks a LOT for Oz. Plus, he feels the need to be hip with "My dudes", the gay-kink/subculture allusion, "It's chill", "C'mon, I wanna be part of the team!".
I don't like this Oz. I do find it an interesting twist that in Boom!Verse, werewolves are necessarily fattening up so that they'll have the reserves necessary for the transformation. That makes this Oz a portly fellow around the midsection.
I like that there is a physical cost added to wolfing out.
Page 03: Angel isn't amused, but agrees that a heavy chain is best. Spike has one on hand, which grosses Kate out (comically, I'm sure). Spike also steals Oz's burger to use as a way to lead him later.
Page 04: At sundown, our team is back on the row where the attacks the night before occurred. Spike tells them they should'nt be out there while they're down two members, but since he's wasn't onboard to begin with, Kate tells him to shut it.
In the meantime, Oz has been talking to his alleymates about the night before. They don't have any real insight to share, other than three were killed. With night falling, Spike puts the chain collar around Oz's neck.
Page 05: They return to the scene of our killings, and Oz uses his heightened sense of smell to trace the direction their wolf went after the maulings. Oz tells them he was bitten only a few blocks from where they are now, while he was hanging out on the streets with some buds, after having dropped out of high school in Sunnydale.
Angel calls the town Hell. Oz points out it wasn't any worse than L.A. He finds traces of the wolf they're after, and tells the others he'll be all white and built like a truck. But he'll also be weak right now, due to the recent change. If they can find him before moonrise, it'll be better and easier.
Page 06: In the meantime, Fred is still being groomed to oversee W & H's evil ways. She's giving a speech to online trolls that have been sowing chaos [I'm not going to get bogged down in politics in this review, no matter how many tidbits are being left around the dialog, so forget about it, Zac].
Page 07: There is much clapping, but when everyone cheers, they're cheering for Baphomet. Deep in her mind, Fred tells Baphomet that she doesn't want him speaking through her, but he tells her there isn't such a clear line between them.
As Baphomet/Fred is being butt-kissed and attention is turning to the other evil fires that need to be approved to move forward, in Fred's mind, she's joined by something new - a counterforce to Baphomet. This new entity calls herself Mura, and tells Fred that she's always been with her. She calls on her now to resist Baphomet, and to release the idea that she is a mortal and to embrace that she is meant to be a verdant goddess.
Commentary: I'm not crazy about this story arc with Fred, either. It was interesting at first, but I liked it more when Fred was just a psychiatric patient with access to powerful magic, when she manages to focus. I was even okay with an arc where Fred becomes the big bad and has to be taken down. But now, it feels like she's just going to end up becoming over-powered when she rejoins Team Angel and then they'll have to constantly write around her magic because this is supposed to be the vampires' book. I'm already annoyed that Angel's title had to force Spike onto the cover, now it feels like his central role will be further compromised by having yet another super-power on the team. This will also compromise Kate and Charles, if there are two super-strong vampires and a powerful 'goddess' hanging around, not to mention Lilith continuing to pop up knowing everything in advance.
I'm a little worried about focus. I guess it could be alright, though, ultimately. This could be an alternate version of Illyria, and that worked out okay -- mostly.
Page 08: In her office, Fred's turmoil grows as her sycophants try to get her approval for an oil spill. Fred's eyes turn chromatic as within her Baphomet and Mura each try to sway Fred to surrender to them.
She chases her assistants out of the room with a screamed, "GET OUT" - but whether she was talking to them, or the voices in her head isn't clear. It was probably both, since she's been pestered 24/7 since Lilah brought her there.
Page 09: When Fred has been left alone, Mura tells her that W&H were trying to corrupt her, in order to corrupt Mura's essence. She tells Fred that she can sense her fear, because she shares it. Fred tells her that she doesn't want to be a force that kills, and Mura offers that she can be a force that gives life, instead. Mura calls Fred a superorganism tied to every possible world, and that she can choose to be a healing force. Around Fred, some neglected plants in the office spring to life and vitality, as Fred's hands become covered in a green, plantlife growth.
Fred asks about her memories of dying, and Mura tells her she's died many times, but that each death came with new life.
Page 10: Back in the alley, Kate and Angel have stationed themselves above to keep watch for the werewolf/wolves. Flashes of Angelus' time with Mara keep intruding, and Angel asks Kate what they're doing and admits his confusion. Kate seems to be making her peace with this other life she had, and tells Angel he needs to stop thinking so much on it.
Page 11: Angel admits that he hungers for Kate, and on her side, she knows that Angel wouldn't be good for her but she can't seem to care. He warns her that he has this hunger for her, and she replies that she wants him to devour her.
Their [repulsive] conversation is interrupted by Spike, shouting for some assistance from the alleyway below.
Commentary: I could've lived without Angel/Kate's Angelus/Mara flashbacks forever and been fine. And wasn't Angelus a cold, brutal monster? Well, Boom!Angelus apparently loved Mara deeply. No word on Darla. Anyway, I find this whole 'romance' gross and disturbing.
Page 12: The reason that Spike's panties are in a twist is because Oz is transforming, and he's turned out to be a big boy.
And, Spike can't work his smartphone to call Angel's.
Page 13: Oz-wolf stares down at tiny Spike, as the vampire tries to chill him out. He reaches into his pocket.
Page 14: Oz-wolf rushes down the alley, dragging Spike by the chain he's holding, and tearing him up a bit along the concrete and broken debris.
Oz-wolf meets to other werewolves, probably the ones who killed his homeless friends, and they all growl at one another menacingly. In the meantime, Spike rolls his eyes that this is how he's going to 'punch it'.
Commentary: The only artwork that I really appreciate is the werewolves. They are huge, they are menacing, they are far better than the werewolves in original-timeline Buffy, including the comics. How these things are able to run around without being spotted in Los Angeles is a question that we're probably not supposed to be asking. But the artwork for Oz' transformation, and his glaring down on Spike was well done.
Page 15: While Spike is trying to get his feet under him, and not get caught in a fight between wolves, a voice shouts down from the rooftops, apologizing for being late. It's Charles Gun, holding a spear. He lands atop one of our bad wolves, impaling it through the back. It's an impressive feat for about 3 seconds, before he's unceremoniously tossed from the creature's back ass-over-head to crash onto the alleyway floor.
With Oz-wolf compelled by Oz' anger toward the big, white wolf - Spike releases him to fight, as he rushes to see to Gunn.
Gunn hands another spear to Spike, and tells him that the werewolf won't notice it much, but come sunrise, it'll still be in the human.
Commentary: I'm a little bothered by this, too. But I definitely can accept it from Gunn. But right now, they don't even know that the werewolf-person is deliberately out hunting. For all they know, the poor guy/gal doesn't know they're a wolf. I guess ultimately, I'm alright killing a werewolf on a tear, but it comes across like Charles isn't even thinking about trying to put the wolf down temporarily to confront the person he/she is the other 27 nights of the month.
Page 16: As the team reassemble to intervene in the fight, Spike finds himself bothered by Kate - who is evincing a level of bloodlust and power that doesn't comport with her usual by-the-book cop routine. He finds himself worrying about the affect that Angel is having on her. Spike tries to call her off by reminding her that their targets are people most of the time, but Kate stabs a spear into the werewolf's chest without a thought.
Spike would probably care less, except her chosen target for the spear embedding is Oz-Wolf!
Page 17: Since Kate can't control herself, Spike gives her a hard shove off of Oz-Wolf's chest, knocking her to the ground. Angel - currently in love-eyes mode [I'm going to vomit] - shouts at Spike to get his hands off of her. Before he can add more mayhem to a fight that is already chaotic, a werewolf flattens Angel with a mighty paw, and then kicks him and sends him flying.
In the meantime, Kate and Spike are briefly confronted by White-Wolf. But instead of going on the attack, thankfully for Kate, the wolves take off. Oz is left lying against a wall, still hurting from the spear wound to his upper chest.
Page 18: The wounded Oz growls at Spike's approach, but he seems to be okay enough. Spike uses the hamburger he stole from person-Oz early to feed to the wolf, keeping Oz-Wolf on their side.
Gunn wonders how the hell Spike managed to charm a werewolf [oh! because Oz and Spike are totally hooking up later -- probably not, darn it], but Angel tells him to not bother asking, and just follow Oz as he tracks the two murderous wolves.
Page 19: Oz-Wolf (ew, he's acting more like a domesticated puppy all of the sudden, and it's much less impressive) leads Spike to a large hole that goes under the alley.
Kate tells the others there is no way they're dropping into a dark hole, with no way of knowing what is waiting for them. Spike, being Spike, just tells her he's been in worse and drops down into the unknown.
Page 20: Angel follows.
In the burrow, they find a gathering of werewolves: At least nine!
But oddly, they're doing very human things: ping pong, getting a drink from a cooler, sitting together on a sofa... very much not like rampaging beasts, including the huge white wolf they'd just been fighting.
The Good: The werewolf transformation of Oz is depicted as brutal and agonizing. It's no wonder that a werewolf is looking for somebody to damage after they're transformation.
I do like the chemistry growing between Oz and Spike.
I also like that Gunn returned to help out the team, and indicated that he wasn't spending the entire time away brooding about his childhood trauma, but researching werewolves instead.
The Bad: Angel and Kate reliving Angelus and Mara is going to make me sick. Especially with it making Angelus look like a touchy-feely Harlequin Romance character in the flashbacks, except with more burning and bloodshed.
All of our characters feel very confused about how to handle the usually-human werewolves. They don't seem to have a clear opinion on what they're doing, or whether they're trying to capture or kill the roaming beasts.
Other Thoughts: I don't really like this new Oz, or how he's handled dialog-wise. Nor do I like whatever they're doing with Spike's clothes -- but this is all so minor.
Also not really into Fred's saga, now that she's having a fight between Baphomet and Mura - between turning into a demon or a goddess - both of which is playing like a power-fantasy.
I wasn't happy with Oz - just grieviously wounded - suddenly playing cooperative puppy for Spike over a hamburger that wouldn't have been more than two bites to someone of his new size. But, I'm choosing to believe it is an affect of human-Oz kinda bonding with Spike, carried over to his wolf-form. So, I'm not putting it in The Bad. But it was a bit nauseating.
The last image of the werewolf den certainly puts a new twist on what these wolves are, and how to handle them next. I'm not sure how to feel about it, except I was nonplussed - am nonplussed.
The Score: I have too many issues with our characters, and it's impacting my thoughts on the plot. Your mileage could definitely wildly vary.
3.0 out of 5 stars