Thursday, November 17, 2011

Telling Fans What They Already Know About Spike, Spike: Lost & Found Flops!

The Good: Good artwork, Generally good character observations.
The Bad: Short, No real character development, Thin plot.
The Basics: Simple problem, simple solution: Spike: Lost & Found is a mini-episode graphic novel which tells readers what they already know about Spike.

For those who might not follow my many, many reviews, I have become a bit of a fan of the works of Joss Whedon. My wife is a huge fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, though I myself prefer Angel. One of the exciting things in the next few months for me will be sharing Firefly with her and we've pretty much committed to getting into Dollhouse eventually. In the meantime, I've been helping her get her fix by rounding up various graphic novels from the Buffyverse and gifting them to her. As she is a big fan of Spike, the Spike graphic novels always get me the reward of a delighted squeal and a hug from my wife. But as I look for more things to review, I have been reading her graphic novels and some of them are better than others. As one who is probably a little more discriminating, I think I can help readers separate the cream from the . . . well, less creamy. Spike: Lost & Found is one that is easy to pass on.

"Spike: Lost And Found" is a very short graphic novel and it is entirely predicated on having a memory of two episodes, one from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and one from Angel. When Angel spun off from Buffy in the fourth season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (reviewed here!), there was a crossover episode, which involved Spike hunting the Gem Of Amarra, a mythical stone which could make a vampire invincible. After finding the Gem, it is taken by Buffy and Oz drives it to Los Angeles to give to Angel. On the episode of Angel - which is essentially recapped in Lost & Found - Spike arrives, tortures Angel for the Gem, is double-crossed by the torturer after Cordelia and Doyle give it up and Angel destroys the Gem Of Amarra. Lost & Found flashes back to those events, but most of the action takes place in the very brief window of time in the fifth season of Angel (reviewed here!) between when Spike becomes corporal, but before Fred is taken by Illyria.

When a vampire begins slaying in the middle of the day, Angel becomes wary of the implications. Murders in Los Angeles by a new vampire who can kill in broad daylight remind Angel of the Gem Of Amarra and he visits Spike to ask him about it. Spike, who was not around for the Gem being destroyed, insists Angel knows more about it than he does. Wesley's investigations suggest that the translation of Gem Of Amarra should actually have been "gems." Knowing now that they are hunting another Gem Of Amarra, Angel and Spike try to figure out how another Gem Of Amarra made it out into the world.

Their investigation leads them to the front doors of Wolfram & Hart, to Harmony (who was with Spike during the original caper). Harmony, it turns out, had picked up another ring which is another Gem Of Amarra. She has since sold it on EPay (so she could get new boots) and Spike and Angel hunt the ring from the bidder to the murdering vampire.

Lost & Found is a perfect example of "simple problem, simple solution," which is probably why this graphic novel is only 48 pages long. The story is unambitious and basically serves the simple purpose of reiterating that fifth season (of Angel) Spike is not the same gruesome jerk he was before he got his soul. The thing is, anyone who is enough of a fan to bother reading Lost & Found already knows this. As a result, Scott Tipton's story is essentially a double redundancy. Spike says he is different from who he was, then he is put in the same circumstances he was placed years before and lo and behold! he actually has changed.

So, Lost & Found is not so much chock full of character development as it is character observation or reminder. An it's a pretty obvious reminder for the fans.

As well, Tipton's story ultimately makes less sense in the resolution than many fans would like. The vampire who is running around during the day is supposed to be made invincible by the Gem Of Amarra. In order to make him not invincible, he must be separated from the Gem. In the episodes, the ring that holds the Gem is pulled off the finger and this makes sense. Invincibility does not equate to dexterity. But the troublesome thing in Lost & Found is the method by which the adversary loses the ring. One would think it would not be possible given that the ring is supposed to make the vampire invincible.

That said, despite the ridiculously short nature of this graphic novel and the fairly thin plot, this is one of the best graphic novels in the Spike series in terms of artwork. For one's $7.49, they get forty-eight pages of recognizable Spike, Angel, and Harmony. The panels look good and all of the characters are recognizable and the color contrasts are pretty incredible, which is quite a feat given that some of the panels have a lot of very dark colors to them. Fernando Goni, who illustrated this graphic novel, did an amazing job with the images, such that there is only one bad panel in the entire book. The only other complaint is a little nit-pick, which is that the daywalking vampire looks a bit too much like Angel for my tastes.

Ultimately, though, Lost & Found is a "well, duh" episode of Spike and as a result, it is no surprise that the graphic novel is so short. Spike has changed. We get it, we did not need a recycled episode to prove it to us. Sadly, the publishers at IDW thought differently. At least they made it look good.

For other Joss Whedon Universe graphic novels, please visit my reviews of:
Spike: Smile Time
Angel: Not Fade Away
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Twilight


For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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