In Review: Angel: Season 11 #5

This is a voyage worth taking. Recommended.

The covers: The Regular cover by Scott Fischer is a beauty. Angelus and Darla are dancing dressed in appropriate garb of their time, and the female vampire’s dress, the closer it gets to the ground, morphs into the sail of a wonderful ship. This is flat out gorgeous and the image I chose to accompany this review. This is definitely print, poster, and tee shirt worthy. The Variant cover takes a decidedly different tone with artist Jeff Dekal going for an equally beautiful, but absolutely horrific, image. With several large candles in the background giving off blaring light, Angelus looks up at the reader, angry for being interrupted from his feeding on a young woman, who looks a little too much like Winifred Burkle. Could this be foreshadowing? Both the characters look sensational, with the coloring being fantastic, from the strong candlelight being excellent to the darker coloring on the victim to make her almost invisible. This cover, too, is well done. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Variant A

The story: The previous four issues had writer Corinna Bechko focus on Illyria’s past. Now the Old One has spirited Angel and Fred to a different time. Illyria tells the title character, “We are almost to that long-ago turning point in your life that you think will save the future. All we have to do is fix your past. You recognize this place, yes?” Looking around, with a pang of guilt on this face, Angel does; they are on the ship Galene, which is returning to England after stopping in Australia. The goddess changes back into Fred and Angel says that something was smuggled on board that may help them. Before he can explain further he tells Fred to hide and the pair choose a hazardous position as a figure moves close by. It’s Darla. A crew member warns the woman to be careful on the deck, which has her ask if he could loan her an arm for a tour. Angel whispers that Darla is definitely hunting. What follows is a game of cat and mouse, with Fred and Angel trying to locate an object on board the ship, while avoiding the very hungry Darla. Putting the characters in a closed space is a wonderful way to create tension: not only could Darla pop up around any corner, but crew members with questions could appear, and Angel’s old self could bar their way. Naturally, Fred and Angel split up and that’s when things get really tense. A highly enjoyable start to a voyage of the damned. Overall grade: A+

The art: Welcome to this series Zé Silva as the illustrator. His style is perfectly suited for this time travel story, with the setting and the characters’ clothes looking outstanding. The characters look a little younger, but that’s something easy to adjust to. Silva certainly knows how to manipulate a panel to enhance the story, with the first panel on the second page tilted more than forty-five degrees to increase Angel’s frightened visage. The close-up at the bottom of the same page nicely captures the fear in one character’s eyes and builds tension well. The reveal of Darla on 3 is beautiful: it’s a full figure image of her on the deck of the ship. Her hair is stunning, and it only improves the closer Silva brings the reader to her. The setting should also be mentioned, as Silva appears to have created every board that comprises the ship. The crewman that greets Darla is a sensational looking character whose smile could launch a thousand ships on its own. A very humorous image appears in the second panel on 6, which could be lost if the reader is going through the text too rapidly. On the following page, the second panel elicits a shiver for one character’s visual aside. The bottom of 8 reveals Angelus and he also looks terrific, with his jacket and gloves being very cool. There’s a great point of view panel on 10 that’s a great surprise, but solves one character’s problem quickly. When the characters go below deck, Silva really shines with terrific details to make the surroundings seem very real. The object that’s sought after has a unique design and I really would prefer not to look at it for too long, even as I’m writing this review. Silva can tell a story so well, the final page, which ends on a cliffhanger, really requires no dialogue to communicate what’s occurring — though the dialogue is great, with that last word complementing the final panel superbly. I would love to have Silva stay with this book for its entire run. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The first page of this story has Illyria and Angel arriving on the ship. Michelle Madsen makes their descent magical with some excellent shades of blue combined with white and gray. Notice should also be given to the excellent shading being done on the characters’ faces to give them depth, such as on Angel in the second panel. Blues continue to be outstanding on this issue with some great work done on the moon and Darla’s eyes, which become the perfect lure to any unfortunate man. Darla and Fred’s hair look exceptional with all the different highlights they contain. The browns used on Darla’s suitor are also strong, and come off as somewhat, yet appropriately, scabby, giving him an aged ick factor. Without spoiling anything, oranges are used exceptionally well on 9. Metallic blues and violets are used for the artifact that everyone is searching for and they certainly contribute to its creepiness. Madsen is a good match for Silva’s illustrations. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt, the go-to letterers on Dark Horse Comics’ Whedonverse books, again contribute some fine text to this series. They create dialogue, the story’s title, yells, whispers, vampire speech, sounds, and the tease for next issue. Finding just the right size for a character’s whispers must be challenging, as it has to be tiny, yet readable. On this book every whisper is perfectly uttered by every character. The sounds, though few, are memorable, with the one issuing from the artifact looking as frightening as its design. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Angel’s violent past is always a good source for stories and Bechko has crafted a terrific tale. Having Darla in the mix and the heroes trapped on a ship with the vampires creates wonderful tension. Silva’s art captures the beauty of the time, as well as the more monstrous natures of the undead. This is a voyage worth taking. 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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