Angel: Auld Lang Syne

The latest Angel collection from IDW demonstrates key problems with the publisher’s product.

Angel: Auld Lang Syne cover
Angel: Auld Lang Syne
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Auld Lang Syne collects the five-issue miniseries. The structure is mechanical, and the original issue breaks are obvious (even confusing, if the book reader isn’t aware of the original publication plan). In issue #1, while rescuing a baby (no better symbol of innocence) from a demonic cult, Angel sees and fights old enemies — Darla, the Master, Skip (you remember, the demon with the chin ring), and Holtz. Issue #2, in parallel, Spike does the same thing, only with him it’s the two slayers he’s killed and his mother. This is less mythic, since it requires more knowledge of the series continuity, and I didn’t recall his particular maternal issues.

So when Angel and Spike face off at the beginning of issue #3, each thinks the other is a similar hallucination. After the big fight, the two realize their misunderstanding and team up to fight the real big bad. There’s also hand-waving explanation of the reasons behind the apparitions and two fighting chicks who look like Witchblade leftovers.

Leaving aside that this plot — having to battle dead characters from one’s history as part of a larger scheme — was similar to the second IDW Angel book, Old Friends, the format is counterproductive. IDW justifies their higher-than-standard prices through high production values and thick, glossy paper. But this is a big ol’ fight story. The appeal is watching Angel and Spike whale on classic antagonists, including each other. It should be fast, cheap, and enjoyable. Instead, I’m worrying about not being able to read it without leaving fingerprints on the glossy black paper. (Presumably to add to the feeling of night and gloom, all of the page gutters in this book are black, not white.)

Also problematic: the lack of distinctive voices. TV adaptations succeed or fail based on how much they feel like the “real” versions of the characters. These don’t have that special spark. They’re flat and predictable, rather like the plot, without the actors’ magnetism to carry weak material. If this had been under $15 and readable without damage, I’d be a lot more charitable, but as it is, it’s another over-priced forgettable IDW publication that left me dissatisfied and not learning anything new about the characters.

All that said, I’m still looking forward to IDW’s “Angel season six but we can’t contractually call it that” After the Fall miniseries (IDW’s store says #1-5 plus a one-shot) only because the creative team of Brian Lynch and Franco Urru have done such good work with Spike: Asylum and Spike: Shadow Puppets. They clearly know the characters, have a good take on voice and look, and create complex stories. (Amazon links because that’s the way to go with IDW books: get them at discounts whenever possible.)

See preview pages for Auld Lang Syne and read an interview with the writer online.

Similar Posts: Angel & Faith #19-20 § Fractured Franchise: Dark Horse Reclaims Angel to Go With Buffy § Fallen Angel Back to Print § Good Comics Out May 30, Short Reviews of Angel & Faith #10, Ghostbusters #9, Star Trek/Doctor Who § Angel & Faith #1

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