Spike: After the Fall TPB Paperback – May 18 2010
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This was Spike: The humor inherent in the way he talks and thinks, which here we were privy to. His interesting and unique (I hope) worldview. His passionate loyalty to the few people he allows into his world. His talent for both buttkicking and being tortured (if a tendency to attract torture--dare I say a propensity?--can really be called a skill, which in Spike's case I think it can). The leather coat. Lots of other little habits and quirks that are part of all that is Spike.
Plus there was the incredible cover, which I could stare at for a very long time (I'm so glad I waited for the softcover--even the clerk who rang me up commented on how great it looked). I also really liked the art inside, even of Spike, although I do agree with another reviewer that he could have been "cuter." One page in particular blew me away so much that I have a bookmark there and want to blow it up and frame it.
I should probably also mention the plot. It's great. Basically it's the story of how Spike, along with Illyria/Fred, came to find his place in the world of LA-gone-to-Hell and to collect his ersatz Scooby Gang. He meets people, some of them human and some less so. Some try to kill him, some try to have sex with him. Pretty usual for Spike. The first chapter was funny and a good set up for the darker story of the other three. The end is both a resolution and promise that Spike goes on.
Let's talk about Spike for a moment. He's one of the Buffy universe's best characters, but he works best when he's in Buffy's orbit in a state of perennial love/hate. "First I'll kill her, then I'll save her," as he once sang. Here, the only major character he's hanging out with is... Illyria. Not a very interesting personality for Spike to engage with.
The setting also works against anything interesting happening. Los Angeles has descended into Hell... and rather than struggling to get out, Spike is merely trying (and repeatedly failing) to protect the few remaining humans. In other words, he's just biding time until Angel: After the Fall begins and things can start actually happening.
Even fans won't get much out of this volume. The few revelations (Gunn is a vampire now!?) are simply dropped in without explanation. Remember that classic Buffy episode "The Zeppo," which centered on Xander as what would ordinarily be the main Buffy-centric plot got pushed to the background? That worked as a smart, self-aware parody of a standard Buffy ep. Now imagine if it were done seriously. Well, that's basically what you've got in Spike: After the Fall; a secondary character stuck in a secondary plot.
I didn't really like the psuedo-rotoscope type of artwork. It was just a bit too blocky and detail-lacking. But it didn't get in the way of the story, either. The story itself was missing spark and purpose. It felt a bit like it was trying too hard to create a story for spike: all the characters, villains or friends, did everything revolving around Spike: either wanting to seduce him or kill him. The other male characters (2 of them out of 30?) were grossly underwritten.
The milieu, an alternate universe LA, was bland, underused, and mere set decoration. There could have been fun to had with the quirkiness of that city. But it felt like neither the author nor the artist had ever stepped foot inside the City.
In the end, I think Spike fans will like this. But I ended up slogging through it waiting for something to happen and then realizing at the end that it was just a bunch of scenes put together to give Spike some bon mots dialogue.