After maintaining the same creative teams on their first two graphic novels, the editors at IDW decided to share the wealth with their third Angel series, Spotlight. A graphic anthology collecting five issues showcasing different secondary characters from the Mutant Enemy teleseries, each entry features a different writer and artist combo. The results are predictably variable.
The two strongest entries play off of what is arguably the original teleseries' most affectingly tragic storyline: the death of girl genius Winifred "Fred" Burkle, whose mind and soul gets devoured by a primordial demon named Illyria. Though reliant on the reader's knowledge of the original series for part of their ironic impact, both "Illyria" (written by Peter David & illustrated by Nicola Scott) and "Wesley" (Scott Tipton & Mike Norton) also work as their own little self-contained tales.
"Illyria" opens the set up with a wallop: a scene where a brutal killer named Alex Rich shockingly disrupts a mother's courtroom speech. As written by David, this works as a variation on one of the Buffy/Angel staples - the moment where a character's high-flown monologue gets cut off mid-sentence - and quickly establishes just how reprehensible our story villain is. A neat bit.
The underlying plot of "Illyria" hearkens back to a subplot featured in the teleseries' final season: Illyria's curiosity about the humanity she's subsumed in Fred's body. Commissioned to deliver the killer to some Wolfram & Hart clients, the demon first quizzes him as to whether he felt any regrets for the acts he has committed. It's the capacity to feel remorse, Fred's ex-love Wesley asserts, which makes us human - but, if this is so, where does that place pure sociopaths like Rich?
Wesley Wyndham-Pryce gets to test the levels of his own humanity in his own one-shot, which is set before Winifred's destruction. Centered on Wes' attempts to save the life of Knox, the man we know will ultimately sacrifice Fred to the Lovecraftian Old Ones, the story ups our protagonist's moral quandaries by emphasizing Knox's role as Wes' romantic rival. To emphasize this point, the vampire Spike (at this point in the series continuity, an incorporeal apparition) serves as a nattering chorus, encouraging Wesley to not do anything. "We both know he's an annoying little wanker," Spike says, but we also know that Wes'll do the right thing - even though this will ultimately have dire consequences for the woman he loves.