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This graphic novel collects 3 previously published stories, "Spike: Old Times" by Peter David, and "Spike: Old Wounds" and "Spike: Lost and Found" by Scott Tipton. The art in each of the stories is by Fernando Goni. All of the stories are set during Angel: The Series. Spike is living in Los Angeles as a vampire with a soul. If you found his portrayal on A:TS a bit lacking, I think you might enjoy this book more.
First of all, the artwork is superb. There is nothing worse than reading a Spike comic that draws Spike ugly or as having little or no resemblance to James Marsters. Fear not, Goni's artwork is painstakingly accurate to ALL the actors from the series. Some of the expressions that he gives Spike seem straight out of BTVS, like choices that James Marsters would actually make as an actor.
The first story, "Spike: Old Times," pits Spike against the Vengeance Demon Halfrek, who used to be Cecily, the woman that Spike once loved and wrote "bloody awful poetry" for back when he was the human William. Cecily once told Spike he was "beneath her". This is an amusing little revenge tale for Spike.
The second story is "Spike: Old Wounds". Spike teams up with Fred to prove his innocence in a gruesome murder from decades past. We get to see a lot of Spike's backstory here from his Bad Boy days. More importantly, perhaps, we see his relationship with Fred, and conversely, the lack of trust he receives from the rest of the "Fang Gang".
The final story is also the best, and the most compelling reason that I am recommending this volume. It is "Spike: Lost and Found," and it reads like the best episode of Angel never made. In Angel Season 1, Spike guest-starred in an episode where he goes to LA to steal the Gem of Amarra from Angel, a magical ring that makes the vampire who wears it indestructible and impervious to sunlight, crosses, stakes, etc.
"Lost and Found" is like a sequel to that episode. Complete with humorous flashback to Spike's short-lived relationship with Harmony, we discover that, unbeknownst to Spike, there were actually TWO Gems of Amarra. Now a vampire has his hands on the Gem, and is using it to commit murders in broad daylight. It's up to Spike and Angel to find the vamp and take back the Gem.
The best thing I can say about this story is that it does read like an actual quality episode of Buffy or Angel. The characterization, plot, and humor are all there. The interaction between Angel and Spike is brilliant, and possibly better than anything we saw in Angel Season 5. The story, besides having a good plot, is all about the CHARACTERS and the tension and guilt between Spike and Angel. Fighting against a vampire with the Gem of Amarra reminds Spike of the vampire he used to be, and also of the torture he had inflicted upon Angel when he was after the Gem.
Perhaps the best part of the story is the ending. The question is, if Spike regains the Gem, this time what does he do with it? Does he use it to become invincible, does he use it for his own selfish purposes (such as visiting Buffy), or can he make the same choice Angel once made, and destroy it? Exactly how much has Spike grown and changed since his earliest days on BTVS?
Fascinating read, excellent dialogue. Scott Tipton treats these characters well, and you'll thank him for it!
This volume of stories portrays Spike as a Good Guy and a Hero, without watering down his snarky attitude or Bad Boy persona. Highly recommended for all Spike fans.