Avatar by John Passarella: C+

avatarFrom the back cover:
When Angel arrived in Los Angeles, he assumed he’d find enough evil to keep himself busy for, well… eternity. Up until now, he’s had his hands full in real time. So when Cordelia suggests starting up a web site for their detective agency, he’s hesitant. As Doyle puts it, “People in trouble want to interface with a face.”

Soon, though, the police discover a trail of desiccated corpses stretching across the city. The only thing that binds these victims (other than their cause of death) is their pastime pursuit: online chatting. One by one, they are being hunted by a techno-savvy demon. And when this monster has claimed his final victim, he will have completed a ritual that extends the arm of his evil far beyond the reaches of even the Internet…

Much like Ghoul Trouble, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer book by the same author, Avatar features a pretty lame plot brightened by some entertaining moments between the characters and a good feel for each character’s voice. It occurs early in season one, seemingly before episode eight, “I Will Remember You,” because Angel doesn’t seem to have seen Buffy since he left Sunnydale.

Frankly, the less said about the plot of Avatar the better. It makes sense, I suppose, but there’s nothing great about it. I did find one thing interesting, though. Often, media tie-in books are prohibited from having anything genuinely important happen to the characters. In Avatar, that still holds true but some events are inflated to seem like they are very important. For example, after Angel saves a bunch of teenagers being held prisoner by some sewer-dwelling demon bugs—slipping into vampface in the process—one of the teens says something like, “What are you?” Angel slinks away and the text reads, “Never before had his human face felt so much like a mask.” Really? A fleeting encounter with a teen in a sewer eclipses all of the other times Angel’s had angst about the duality of his existence?

The best part about Avatar is the depiction of the main characters, especially some nice conversations between Doyle and Cordelia and Angel’s observations about Doyle’s chances for a romantic relationship with her. Many fans agree that the worst episode of Angel‘s first season is “She,” featuring Bai Ling as a violet-eyed, leather-clad leader in a flimsy story meant to serve as a metaphor for female circumcision. Angel’s supposedly attracted to her, but no one can figure out why because she’s so boring. Avatar is certainly not as good as the best episodes of season one, but it is definitely better than “She.”

Except for the part where Angel dances. That part is awesome.

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  1. The title is unfortunate. For a few seconds I thought you had made a review of a certain movie.

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