In Review: Angel #2

If you've never partaken of Angel, this is the time to take a bite.

The covers: There are four different covers to find, or are there? The Regular cover is by Dan Panosian and on the cover I purchased it’s an image of a bridge at night, the background is a stark violet, but the lights on the structure are on. Several people are shown in silhouette making their way across it, while down below a figure with a pointed tail and devil’s horns is spray painting on the pier. The tops of some trees are just emerging from the bottom. This is neat, and I like it, but when I searched for this cover online I was presented with an image of the exact same setting, but with one figure, a woman in a red dress, sitting with her legs over the side. Does this cover exist in physical form? I don’t know. The Preorder cover by Scott Buoncristiano features one of the series’ most popular characters: Lorne. The demon has emerged from two violet curtains and has a smile on his face as he regales his audience with a song. Great cover featuring a great character, but — SPOILER — Lorne isn’t in the issue. Puppet Angel holds a sword in his right hand while behind him a vampire’s yellow eyes dominate on a rose colored face. I love me some puppet Angel stories, so this was a neat choice. That said, no puppets in this issue either. Still, ya gotta love this Variant cover by Will Sliney with colors by Chris O’Halloran. There’s also a One Per Store Variant cover by Adam Gorham, but I sadly couldn’t fine an image of it online. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: Regular B+, Preorder A-, and Variant A

The story: In the past, Angelus approaches a woman he’s turned. She’s not happy with what he’s done to her, but he brings her a girl about six or seven and the newly sired vampire feeds. He tells her, “Our war is not against humanity. Our war is against all the things of darkness. The wraiths and dragons. The demons and ghouls. The Master has shown me the future. The end of all things. And the beginning of forever. Only one legion will win the war. Follow me, and I will hand you a throne.” He then gives her a new name. “You are Marius, the Axe. Walk with me and murder the world.” The story then turns to the present, where Lilth gives Angel some insight at the home where his late friend was killed by his daughter who set their home on fire. Page 9 has an outstanding reveal that promises more to come in future issues. A turn of the page and three girls are leaving Sunnydale High School, with one focused upon. She’s exchanging texts with someone she shouldn’t be. A shocking change occurs on 14, followed a huge reveal of a familiar face on 16. There’s a heroic entrance, an action, a promise, and then the best dialogue I’ve read on a final page in some time. This was a fantastic read. I’m really enjoying Bryan Edward Hill’s story, even though we’re only two issues in. This issue has a bit of backstory, foreshadowing, a solid threat, and a tease of familiar faces. Action, thrills, and laughs, too. It’s perfect storytelling. Overall grade: A+

The art: Gleb Melnikov is also really impressing me with his work on this book. The opening five pages show a freshly damned vampire feeding, albeit off the page, but it’s still extremely frightening. The victim is as pitiful as one could imagine, with the she-pire’s look upon her victim is awesome. The bottom of Page 2 is deliriously frightful for the gore splattering and Angelus’s reaction. Page 4 is an excellent showcase of future deeds done with characters from a distance; this pulls the reader in closer to the visuals. Page 5 is a full-paged splash that shows Angelus naming Marius and it looks like a momentous moment. I like that Angel isn’t shown on the next page until the body of his friend is wheeled past him by the coroner. Lilith’s first appearance is in silhouette, which foreshadows her stunning image on 9. Page 8 is made up off nine equal sized panels showing the progression of humanity through a specific medium. It’s fantastic. I’m already a huge fan of this format by artists, but to see it used so smoothly here to showcase the text is brilliant. The third panel on 9 is extremely clever, given what was stated on 8. The person with whom the student is texting with starting on 10 is done exceptionally well, teasing his visage without him fully being shown. A nine panel layout returns on 13 and the slight differences between the first and second panel is a cool way to show movement. The seventh and eighth panels on the page make a trippy combination. The actions on 15 are disturbing. I’ve seen countless horror movies and read countless horror comics and I’m always impressed when an artist can still get a reaction from me in witnessing something horrific. Melnikov earns this reaction because 15 comes across as real. If it weren’t, it would have no effect on the reader. The reveal of the character on 16 was a jaw-dropper; seeing this person in this location and what’s on the walls. The entrance on 18 would do the Dark Knight proud and it’s glorious in a full-paged splash. I love the positioning of the character in the first panel on 19 — Again, Melnikov is making this fiction look real. The last page is another full-paged splash with the emotion on the character’s face a perfect match for the dialogue. Boom, please keep Melnikov on this title forever! Overall grade: A+

The colors: There’s some really strong shadow work on the opening five pages colored by Gabriel Cassata. I love the work done on the new vampire’s face, with her piercing inhuman yellow eyes always standing out. I like that the vampires’ dialogue balloons are given a gray shade to reinforce that they are dead. The colors on 4 are magical with a lot of violets, reds, and yellows coming across as very supernatural. I love how the object that Liith brings Angel is so bright, drawing attention. Page 8 is colored by artist Melnikov, the only page he does in this book. It looks great and does not look as though a different colorist stepped in. The fiery colors in the fourth panel on 9 are awesome. This is the second time those colors have been used for magical imagery. The text conversation is set apart from each other with two strong colors, instantly becoming hallmarks for the characters. The hue of the male’s voice in the conversation again returns to that magical color. The crimsons on 15 are shocking. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Ed Dukeshire is responsible for this book’s dialogue, scene settings, sounds, yells, a conversation done through texts, an app’s text, and the tease for next issue. I like the large dialogue, but wish the vampires had their own unique font, rather than the shape of their dialogue balloons being differed. The scene settings stand out strongly, the sounds are on point — with the double CRACKs still painful to look at, and the yells are large — with Lilith’s being awesome. The font used for the text conversation looks exactly like my own phone’s text, which made it a little scarier and lot more grounded in reality. Overall grade: A

The final line: Angel is a monstrous success. All the laughs, the scares, and feels are here. The mystery is great, the flashbacks interesting, and the terrors terrific. I love the addition of a familiar face in this issue and am on fire to see what’s to be done with this character. The visuals are great, continuing the recognizable faces from the show and starting some new terrors with this series. If you’ve never partaken of Angel, this is the time to take a bite. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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