In Review: Angel #2

The past is frightening, surprising, and absolutely entertaining. This is must-read material for Angel fans.

The covers: Two covers you shouldn’t have to travel through time to find for this month’s installment. The Regular cover is by Scott Fischer and it’s gorgeous. Angel is in the foreground brandishing a gigantic sword which happens to have his name on it. Behind him is Illyria, emanating blue light which is radiating behind in a beautiful pattern. There’s some sort of tentacle-dagger pattern in red on the title character and it wraps itself around his jacket. The detail on this is jaw-dropping and the coloring stunning. This is the one to find. The Variant cover is by Jeff Dekal and is fine, though there’s too much setting and not enough character on it: Angel and Fred are hiding behind two stone pillars as several arrows go flying by. In the background a volcano looks to be stirring and an odd swirl of violet is writhing around in the sky. Everything about this looks good, with the colors particularly sharp, it’s just that both characters comprise about one eighth of this image. This layout is just not working for me. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Variant D+

The story: Last issue, Illyria opened up a time portal and she and Angel both went in. The vampire berates the goddess for their arrival in the middle of the day, and she apologizes but follows up with “Decades might be the wrong unit for long we have traveled. I may have made a…rounding error.” She then promptly transforms back into Fred. Angel ventures, “Maybe Illyria really messed up. This could be another dimension, not another time.” Fred agrees, though she has a gut feeling that Illyria knows this place really well. It suddenly dawns on her that they’re in the Old One’s past. This is must reading simply because so much backstory is given to Illyria. Readers get to see her true — original — form and it isn’t anything that any television show could afford to create. Additionally, she’s on a mission to right a wrong, but changing the past always comes with fallout, doesn’t it? Writer Corinna Bechko gets some fantastic character development in this fan favorite, while also showing what others felt about her in this distant time, and it’s very surprising. Angel has to be the voice of reason to the entity and it’s not going to be easy. A new character appears in this issue and joins the pair for the last three pages. Judging by how this book ends, he might not last beyond this point. A must-read for Angel fans. Overall grade: A

The art: With this new setting, Geraldo Borges has to design the environment and its inhabitants. He does an excellent job. The book opens with Angel and Illyria emerging from the portal. It starts in blackness in the upper left corner and progresses to a larger image that looks very cool. The main setting is similar to an undisturbed jungle, though they arrive in a rocky area. When Illyria transforms back into Fred the pain on the woman’s face is palpable, having me grimacing along with her each time it occurs. Borges handles movement very well; for proof, take note of Fred leaving Angel on the third page. The inhabitants of this location look very good and the first time they are seen the reader is looking up at them, increasing the surprise of their alien look. The creature that first appears on 6 is a jaw-dropper. I was completely taken by surprise at this thing and the text that accompanies it made its visage all the more horrific. The protagonists’ reaction to this creature mirrored my own. Illyria nicely goes from angry to sultry with Angel, but she really looks terrific when she tells her origin story on 12 and 13, and that tale is awesome: these are the pages that Angel fans are going to pour over several times. The penultimate page looks really good: set around a campfire, the characters cast some slick shadows and Borges works with the light and the darkness exceeding well. The final page is an excellent tease. Overall grade: A

The colors: Michelle Madsen enhances the many tones of this story extremely well with her colors. The opening page uses several shades of blue to create an ethereal entrance for the pair into the past. Angel’s reaction in the top panel on Page 2 relies on colors to convey his pain. The sky on that page and the ones that follow give the environment an untouched and foreign feeling. The colors on the locals are like rotted flesh, while the whiteness of their bones makes them extremely primitive. The colors on the massive creature are disgusting, until the reader looks at the image almost exactly opposite it (Page 7) that shares the same color scheme. Pages 12 and 13 have an excellent sick use of yellows and earthy browns to highlight the past and the ultimate wrongness of what’s occurring. The coloring during the fireside chat is my favorite of the issue — it looks perfect. Madsen’s work is always tops. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, the story’s title, yells, sounds, inhuman wails, and the tease for next issue are created by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. Considering the epic scale of this outing, this pair did an outstanding job of allowing all the beauty and horror to remain in each panel, yet contain a lot of text. My favorite creations of theirs in this issue was the issue’s final sound (BAM) and the inhuman wail by a creature. They looked great. Overall grade: A

The final line: The past is frightening, surprising, and absolutely entertaining. This is must-read material for Angel fans. Those new to the characters will be equally surprised and shocked at what’s revealed. 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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