In Review: Angel #4

This Angel is heaven sent for the thrills it creates.

The covers: Appropriately there are four covers on the fourth issue of this series. The Regular cover by Dan Panosian is a good one. Angel is walking by a woman on the street who pulls her purse closer to her. She turns her head to look at the strange man walking behind her as he looks at her. He seems full of fury and his hair is especially spiked up. The coloring on this is gorgeous with oranges dominating from a window behind them. This is an excellent piece full of tone and atmosphere. The Preorder cover by Scott Buoncristiano features a smiling pig headed man in the upper half of the cover. It smiles at the reader as the gore on its mouth and chin trickles down onto a white silhouette of the city. This is a neat cover, but I have no idea what episode it’s from, so it doesn’t have the punch it probably would if I knew. The┬áVariant cover by Gleb Melnikov is a trippy piece. Angel is underwater…Okay, he’s under blood. He’s in a room that’s flooded with the crimson fluid and he’s trying to rise to its surface. He’s being held back by several clutching hands from unseen characters. I love the look of Angel, the layout, the point of view, and the backgrounds which are fantastic. This is one worth tracking down. The final cover is the One Per Store Variant by Gabriel Hernandez Walta. This features a bust shot of Angel on the bottom two-thirds of the cover dressed entirely in black. This looks like his outfit that he had as he roamed about as Angelus. The bottom half of his mouth and chin is a solid red of blood and this streak goes all the way down the illustration, coloring his clothes a bright red stripe. Again, nice, but I would prefer a cover of the familiar cast members who appear this issue. Overall grades: Regular A, Preorder C+, Variant A+, and One Per Store Variant B-

The story: Angel has been able to enter the dimension that the telephone demon inhabits. It’s a desolate location composed of broken buildings that create a maze. The demon sits atop a mound of bodies that he’s taken through their phones. In the real world, Lilith has gone to Fred and says, “You need to know your future. Your role to play — and what’s at stake. Everything. All of the light is dimming. And things will grow darker for you. But first, I will ease you of this madness.” She takes Fred’s head in her hands and each woman clearly sees the other for who they are. The majority of Bryan Edward Hill’s tale has Angel escaping peril from the many psychological traps the demon has created. These are neat and show what gets under the hero’s skin. I especially like the reveal on Page 8 which will have fans of another of Whedon’s series happy. How Angel overcomes this demon is very smart and I’m always pleased when Angel uses his brain rather than brawn and he certainly does in this tale. After the baddie is defeated there’s a very prophetic conversation between two characters that’s obviously a lead-in to the Hellmouth series that’s coming soon from BOOM! The last two pages of the issue introduce a familiar face into this series and I can’t wait to see how Hill is going to induct this character onto Team Angel. Overall grade: A

The art: I am really enjoying the artwork on this book by Gleb Melnikov. The first page has a slow pull-in to Angel’s eye that widens when he realizes his situation. It’s a nice progression that increases the tension of the villain’s words. Page 2 is a full-paged splash that has the hero looking as though he’s survived the apocalypse. The pages involving Fred are awesome with each image of her powerful. When Lilith reaches out to touch her at the bottom of the third page both characters are shown in silhouette which makes the gesture seem like a forbidding one. When Lilith touches Fred how each looks to the other is very telling. Both are supernatural beings and both are equally terrifying. When the Big Bad is seen on Page 5 he’s definitely looking omnipotent. The reveal on 8 and the action that follows soon after this is startling and Melnikov will have readers gasping. The entourage that appears on the next page also looks good, with each character deserving their own tale. When a character realizes something on Page 12 it’s clearly on the character’s face, so the reader knows what’s occurred before the baddie has. The use of the nine equal sized panels on 13 is a terrific way to show how one character’s power is growing. The wide eyes on 17 are fantastic. The full-paged splash that ends the issue is outstanding, leaving me wanting to see more of this character in action. It’s safe to say that I would welcome Melnikov being the sole artist on this series for its entire run. Overall grade: A

The colors: There’s not a lot of opportunity for bright colors in this issue by Roman Titov due to the settings. The dimension that Angel confronts the villain in is full of broken buildings and rooms that have faded colors to show their distress. Angel is wearing an off red shirt, but it’s dulled considerably to show the effect of the dimension upon him. However, it is bright enough for the reader to always spot him in a panel. The demon’s face is given a rusty color to give him the appearance of being skinless. Add to this the overwhelming white that’s behind the antagonist causing him to be outlined in a glow in each of his panels giving him a creepy demeanor. The last two pages use blue and green excellently to introduce an important supporting character. Overall grade: A

The letters: Ed Dukeshire creates this issue’s dialogue, one line of computer text, and the tease for next issue. There aren’t any sounds in this issue. Some would have been nice, but the writer wanted the images and dialogue to tell the story. Every character’s speech is easy to read. The one line of computer text is perfect and wonderfully ironic for when it appears and what it says. The teaser for next issue announces the opening of something terrible in Sunnydale. Hopefully there will be a few sounds in the next issue. Overall grade: A-

The final line: This Angel is heaven sent for the thrills it creates. A nice psychological outing for Angel as he battles a demon in another dimension, while Fred gets some information about what’s going to be opening up, as well as what her immediate future may hold. This is sure to please old and new fans. 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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