Angel: Old Friends
by Jeff Mariotte, David Messina (IDW, 2006)

This story, set in the aftermath of Angel's fifth and final season on TV, begins with Angel brooding in solitude after his failure to achieve his aims in the previous story arc, The Curse. But Old Friends, as its title suggests, reunited our troubled vampiric hero with his former teammates when Gunn comes calling for help in dealing with a series of vampire killings in Los Angeles. The perp, it seems, may be Spike gone bad, so of course Angel is all too eager to saddle up and ride.

But in the inevitable conflict between them, evil Spike is slain by good Spike, who shows up in the nick of time. And, before our heroes can even begin to seek out the cause of this nefarious peroxided doppleganger, Illyria -- the blue-skinned goddess who inhabits dead Fred's body -- shows up to lend a hand, and heck, the gang's all here.

Or so you'd think, but soon they're joined by Wesley and Fred, both of whom are supposed to be dead, and soon we've got Cordelia casting spells and a pair of green-skinned Lorne's battling for supremacy of the leisure-suit set. It's madness, I tell you!

It's also not very interesting reading. The big problem here is we don't yet know what happened during and after that big battle in the alley that concluded the series, so telling us what happened after whatever happened after the battle is premature.

Also, the resolution is just kind of lame.

It doesn't help that artist David Messina take some liberties with the characters. The attractively slim Illyria, for instance, apparently went for the Mae West package at her favorite plastic surgeon's office since we saw her last. And Cordelia, lovely Cordelia, doesn't look at all like herself; she had to be named in the story before I knew it was supposed to be her.

Any continuation of the Buffy/Angel world is welcome, but this series seems to be hanging in limbo until the "big reveal" tells future storytellers what they have to work with. Stories like this just fill space in the meantime, and that's a disservice to readers and characters both.

review by
Tom Knapp

23 February 2008

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