Angel & Spike #15 sees the iconic Buffy the Vampire Slayer Oz show up in Los Angeles. It continues the current arc written by Zac Thompson, illustrated by Hayden Sherman, colored Roman Titov, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire. BOOM! Studios' Buffy titles have had varying success with reimagining the original Buffy universe, so let's see how this new take on Oz plays out.
There are two ways to read Angel & Spike #15. You can read it as an Angel fan who loved the shows and the previous comics or as a Zac Thompson fan. I happen to be both. I've loved everything Buffy and Angel since the debut of the shows. I have enjoyed everything that Thompson has written. While it's enjoyable for all of the reasons that Thompson's writing always is, this, though, feels not so much like an Angel story at all. Fans who aren't open to something entirely different than the series and characters they grew up loving aren't going to connect to this one.
That is a major problem that the BOOM! Studios' Buffy the Vampire Slayer titles, with the exception of Willow, have not only the tone of the series have changed but also the characters and their iconic voices. For example, Oz is used here, and he works in the role in this comic. If we'd never heard of the character before, he's an enjoyable werewolf with some funny lines. His energy, when added to the team, even creates an interesting, fresh dynamic in BOOM!'s Angel & Spike. The issue is, though, that Oz exists outside of this series. Fans would've been excited at the end of the previous issue to see Oz revealed, but the character they get in this issue is nothing like the stoic, thoughtful character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He says, for example, "My dudes, just put me on a leash. Something really strong like a steel chain. And one of you vampire daddies can hold onto me all night." The jokiness with strangers and Oz's sheer wordiness, who talks so much in this issue, couldn't feel further from the character's established speech patterns. Again, it works in that Oz is a new character introduced in this new version of Angel but doesn't succeed in recreating aspects of the character that returning fans — essentially, the only audience for a licensed comic, full stop — love.
The issue picks up during the Wolfram & Hart scenes. The end, shifting from an introspective Angel thinking about the possibility and weight of a new romance to the big, monstrous climax, is enjoyable. The artwork isn't what an Angel fan is going to be looking for in a comic as it fails to capture the look and energy of the characters, but it is always, pretty objectively, gorgeous. The werewolf transformation here, for example, is stunning. While it doesn't quite match the characters as we know them, the clothing styles seen here are also absolutely gorgeous. On its own, without the context of it being a reinvention of Joss Whedon's Angel, it's a well-written and beautifully drawn comic. With a licensed comic, though, it should certainly be able to be both that and a story that will appeal to fans of the original and, even as a reboot, recreate the characters in an effective way that is true to where they started.