In Review: Angel #6

The Hellmouth and Angel take a back seat to Fred and Gunn on a mission.

The covers: An appropriate six covers to find for this sixth issue that’s surprisingly Angel free. The Main cover by Dan Panosian follows the format of the Hellmouth books, with an illustration on the left and Mr. Pointy on the right containing the title and the credits. The image has Angel snarling as he bursts into flame above the Hollywood sign that now says Hellmouth. Nice, but has nothing to do with this issue. The Hellmouth Connecting cover by Goñi Montes is odd because I have no idea what it pertains to. Angel appears to be sitting on some blue rocks that are covered in magical signs that are colored in luminescent whites and pinks. In the foreground, at the top and bottom, are red and orange colored foliage, with a bird sitting on the hilt of a sword that’s stuck in the ground. Uh, okay. D’Hoffryn dominates the Preorder cover by Scott Buoncristiano. The vengeance demon is on a dark blue-green background, his hands open to reveal the silhouette of an open character bursting into flame. I like this, but it also has nothing to do with the contents of this issue. Variant cover by Morgan Beem creates an interesting Variant cover. Angel has a knife in one hand and an ancient tome in the other. Three female ghostly spirits have emerged from the book, irritating the vampire who’s ready to take them down. The art is okay, but the colors really make this pop, with the ghosts in a green-blue emerging out of pink cloud of skulls. Different, but cool. The Unlocked Retailer Variant cover by Daniel Bayliss features all the Angel characters turned into puppets a la the classic “Smile Time” episode. Angel holds a sword over his shoulders in the center. Going clockwise, Cordelia holds a battleaxe, Lorne is belting out a song, Spike rages at the reader with his hands up, Fred holds a stake in each hand, Gunn has a blade, and Wesley has a crossbow held low. The colors are light shades of blue and gray on hot pinks. This is great. The Unlocked Retailer 20th Anniversary Variant cover by Bayliss has the regular images of the characters in the same poses as the puppets. Also very cool. Overall grades: Main B-, Hellmouth Connecting C+, Preorder B, Variant A, Unlocked Retailer Variant A+, and Unlocked Retailer 20th Anniversary Variant A

The story: There’s no Angel to be found anywhere in this issue, though he is brought up. This issue written by Bryan Edward Hill opens with Spike bored and testing his ability to survive certain death. It’s fun, but doesn’t contribute to the story in any way except to show he’s tough to kill. Although if one is familiar with actors on Whedon’s shows, Spike’s final line on the first page could elicit a smile. In Angel’s home Fred is showing Gunn around, starting with the contents of the refrigerator. He doesn’t trust Angel and she tells him he should. Gunn says he doesn’t want to meet the primordial demoness that helped Angel to make her sane, when guess who shows up at the front door? This character gives Gunn insight into who killed his cousin, by showing him the vampire, naming the creature, and telling him who created this Okasa. To find the vampire they’ll need to find another vampire, but he’s not very approachable. This is a fun tale with Gunn and Fred working together. Their prey was okay, but comes across as really strong compared to previous appearances. Almost a little too strong. I really liked the individuals that wanted their prey even more and that conflict on Pages 14 – 16 was great. I liked the cliffhanger, with one of the protagonists captured. I was surprised that when all was said and done, I didn’t miss Angel at all in this issue because Fred and Gunn were a great pair. Overall grade: A- 

The art: I am really enjoying the art of Gleb Melnikov. The opening leap by Spike is good, with the point of view and city impressive. I like the full-paged splash that’s the second page, with the reader’s eye perfectly following the path of Spike. The officer that confronts the vampire looks terrific. Spike’s final panel on Page 3 has him primarily in silhouette and he’s fantastically threatening. Gunn and Fred are both beautiful looking characters, with Fred’s smile on 5 wonderful. The character that arrives on 6 is introduced with the perfect stance that symbolizes how this individual feels about meeting this pair. The eyes on this character are killer. And speaking of eyes, Gunn’s are incredible on the final two panels on the next page, with the closing beam effect delightfully demonic. Okasa is a fantastic looking character and I can’t wait until the protagonists confront him, which this issue’s story promises. The character that receives the focus in the first panel on 10 is terrific; she reminded me of The X-Men’s classic Rogue. Fred and Gunn’s new outfits for their outing are sensational, with Fred a knockout and Gunn absolutely GQ. The nine panel layout on Page 12 is great for building the tension with each panel. Pages 14 – 16 feature a battle that’s excellent and I wish that it could have gone on longer. The final panel on 16 is killer. I love the first panel on 17, which show the characters united momentarily. The appearance on 18 is a solid surprise. The last page is a full-paged splash that shows a group of characters taking one of the leads prisoner. They and the background are wonderful. Melnikov’s work is definitely worth following. Overall grade: A

The colors: Also doing a great job on this book is colorist Roman Titov. The city at night looks sensational throughout the issue, with the opening colors snazzy. The flat yellows resemble those that could be found in any city in the evening. The teals behind Fred and Gunn in Angel’s place make them stand out on the page. The violet colored jacket and shorts have the individual draw the reader’s eyes, as does her coca colored skin. The white that exits Gunn’s eyes that end 7 are great. The location that enters the book on 10 uses a sweet combination of violet and blue to create a glamorous club. I love when pinks overwhelm Gunn during the action sequence. The sound effect that’s colored red on 16 gives it some extra weight. The florescent pink on 18 adds to the otherworldliness of the character that appears on that page. Overall grade: A

The letters: Ed Dukeshire is responsible for this issue’s dialogue, sounds, yells, and the three word tease for next issue. I like that the dialogue and yells are differed by their size and thickness, so that the reader can tell something is being loudly stated. The sounds are great during the fight, with SPLAKK actually getting a strong raising of my shoulders when I first encountered it. Overall grade: A-

The final line: The Hellmouth and Angel take a back seat to Fred and Gunn on a mission. The characters are fantastic in their words and deeds. The visuals are beautiful, strong, and cool. This Angel continues to outshine the Buffy comic. 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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