Friday, October 8, 2010

Spike #1 Review (SPOILERS)

The Preamble: I heard a rumor that a few fans have been wanting to see IDW do a Spike comic.  Have you heard that?  I'm sure someone said it at some point somewhere.  These quiet whispers (barely noticeable, really) make me ask: Who is this Spike guy?  I mean I thought he was an outer space bounty hunter who used to work for a crime syndicate on Mars but apparently he's actually a vampire of some sort.  With cheekbones.  Serious cheek bones.

And now he has a comic.  By Brian something or other.

The Plot: There's a a slot machine junkie on the prowl in the casinos of Las Vegas and she's about to reach the end of her winning streak.  Pull the lever, let's see what comes up.

Wolf. Ram. Heart.

No, seriously, the last one is a heart.  Isn't that sweet?  Then bugs come pouring out of the machine and devour everyone in the place. 

The end. 

Too short?  Okay.

Let me tell you a little story.  Once upon a time, there was a poet named William.  He wasn't always appreciated but he tried his best and was a good son to his doting mother.  Then the monsters came.  Pretty, poetry appreciating monsters who liked to kill everything in sight and then drink it.  They sucked the life out of poor little Willy and when they were done, Spike stood in his place.  He was a whole new kind of monster, like Billy Idol with fangs.  He killed and pillaged and tortured for years and then, one day, he met a girl who changed everything.  She was the girl who couldn't be killed.  And he loved her.  So much, in fact, that he fought for his soul just so that he wouldn't be a monster anymore.

But that's not the end of the story.  Oh, no.  That's just the beginning.  Spike's had so many stories.  He's been a ghost, a playboy in a hell moment, a lady, apparently, and one time he twinkled with some spider woman.

That's not our story either.  Heck, some of that stuff didn't even really happen.  Although, between you and me, I hear Spike pretties up good in makeup and the right dress.  Ahem.  Anyway.  Did someone mention Vegas?  Oh, yes.  I did.  That's where Spike's story continues.  But first he needs a little help from his friends.

First up: Beck.  She's a sweet, teenage girl who has the power to light things on fire with her mind.  She used to be Spike's biggest cheerleader but I hear the girl's picked up some fresh daddy issues since last the two met.  I'm sure it'll be fine.

Next: Beta George.  he's a big, flying fish who reads thoughts.  He also has the ability to make himself look like whatever it is people want to see.  That's a handy gift to have when you're a purple fish that floats.

So off they go.  A man, the pyromaniac jail bait, and their pal, the big fish.  It's a nice motorcycle ride from Los Angeles to Vegas.  They missed their chance to see the world's largest ball of twine on the way but, don't worry, in Vegas there's the world's largest ball of Elvis Impersonators.

Like a Demon Katamari all full of hunk upon hunk of burning love, it barrels down the city streets.  Some might call that dangerous.  Some might call it neat.  Spike would probably call it a bit of both but he'll be damned (and he is) if he'll let it keep going.  So into the breech once more and at the center of the circle is a face.  A big, spooky one, too, with tentacles all around it.

I'll take "This is a trap" for 200, Alex.  Well, not so much a trap as a test.  Who has come to paint the town red?  It's Spike and, apparently, he's in for a world of hurt and maybe a few surprises.  But that's not what matters now.  That's future Spike's problem.  Right now the day needs saving so he plunges his sword into the great big face o' demon and, I'll be damned if the day?  Saved.  Good on ya, mate.

But the future is bounding forward faster than Spike knows.  In an nondescript hotel room a phone rings, letting the man who picks up know that Spike's in town.  There's a lady laying next to him, naked and beautiful.  He covers her body in kisses and she relishes the attention.  It's a fun game for her but, you see, she's not meant for this man.  She's meant for Spike.  Because she's the one that made him the man he is today.


She tells the man that Spike will always have her heart and that he wouldn't understand.  That's okay, he says.  I can do you one better.

That bastard has my soul.

To be continued!

The Review: It's funny reading this hot off the heels of Buffy #37.  In that comic it's all about how Buffy and Spike relate to one another.  And that is great.  But the thing I like best about IDW's Spike is that it's a chance to see him on his own, making his own team, being the master of his own destiny.  That's where Brian excels.  He knows how to craft a Spike story unencumbered by that pesky question: Who is Buffy's one true love?  In this comic, that doesn't matter.

It's issue one and, like you'd expect it reads an awful lot like "Hey, let's get the old band back together".  I love Beck and George and seeing them together with Spike on a motorcycle is the kind of reunion that comic nerd dreams are made of.  There's a dynamic there.  You know they're all like Spike, kind of antagonistic, always wanting the final word, and just a bit chaotic neutral, so to speak.  But you know they'll stand behind Spike, do what he says.

A giant ball full of Elvises is a sure sign you're reading a Brian Lynch book.  That man knows how to bring the quirky comedy.  Brian's Spike is lord of the snarky quip and the world he surveys is not short on things to point and laugh at.  There's always that comedic undertone in Brian's writing, that clever turn that makes you laugh when you least expect to.

And there's Drusilla.  I'm one of those fans who, for years, kept saying "Where the hell is she?" and now I finally get my answer.  Some might say Drusilla and Spike, there's no story left to tell there.  But Spike's got a soul now and who knows what Dru's been up to so I beg to differ.  It's been a long time coming.

In the comic biz there always needs to be a hook in that last panel, something that will make the kids come back for more and that final line made me jump out of my seat.  Spike has someone else's soul?  What does that even mean?  I have no idea but it made me excited.  And that's what good comic writing does.  It makes you excited enough that one month's wait feels like an eternity.

Just one final note: let's all give a little love to the return of Franco Urru, whose art has become synonymous with Brian's Angelverse books.  He has an ability like no other to capture these characters and provide the perfect complement to Brian's words.  It's not just Spike who got the old band back together, Brian did, too.  With Brian, Franco, and, now, Mariah, we've got a creative team that can't be beat.

If you love Spike, this isn't even a question.  Pick it up or face the certainty that I will be shaking my head in disappointment at you.  You don't want that, do you?  I didn't think so.  Spike #1 hits stands everywhere next Wednesday, the 13th of September.


Anonymous said...

I am really dreading Angel reverting to Dark Horse. The Buffy comics have been so uneven and wtf? in recent years that I shake my head at the new issues.

The culminating double-rainbow sex was just the icing on the cake of why IDW has been doing a better job than BtVS's retreads and lack of character growth.

Anonymous said...

Nice review! Thanks! I cannot wait!