‘Angel & Spike #14:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Quick recap time: The last time we checked in with the whole gang, Fred became the host of Baphomet. Meanwhile, Detective Kate Lockley was somewhat inducted into the fold, and her connection to Angel’s past appears to be lurking just beneath the surface.

It’s been several weeks since Fred went “missing,” and Team Angel seems to be a bit frayed around the edges. Angel is back to his broody self-flagellation, Spike appears to be his cavalier self, and Gunn has some serious PTSD from being possessed. With the search for Fred stalled due to lack of information, the gang is on the case of a series of savage murders.

Issue #14 is the first issue featuring the new creative team of writer Zac Thompson and artist Hayden Sherman, taking over from Bryan Edward Hill and Gleb Melnikov, respectively. Thompson’s writing takes a minute to get used to, but he pretty much nails Angel’s self-indulgent brooding. There are a couple of strangely placed asides, but my guess is that they’re a stylistic choice to give Angel’s thoughts a stream-of-consciousness feel to them. Thompson’s Spike also feels a bit more louche. I will say that Fred’s inner voice seems to be wildly different from her previous characterization in this series, but I’m especially loving the way that Thompson writes Lilah: whip-smart with a touch of sass. There’s a really meta moment in the banter between Lilah and Bapho-Fred that really puts the world at large in context. #StoriesMatter because they make us take pause and reflect on how stories can sometimes so succinctly put into words the human condition at the time. Even in a narrative about a vampire with a soul and his quest for redemption, Lilah and Wolfram and Hart represent the very real threat of corporate greed and malfeasance.

Hayden Sherman’s art is a clear visual signifier that there’s a new team in charge of the series. Sherman’s heavy textures and focus on shadows may not appeal to everyone, but I think the artwork really lends itself to portraying the gritty underbelly of Los Angeles. The opening page is straight-up gorgeous. Roman Titov’s ability to adapt to an entirely different art style has to be commended; the colorwork is frikkin’ beautiful! Ed Dukeshire’s contribution to the book is stellar as usual. His “soundscape” just feels so effortlessly textured; it really is a joy to read.

After a year of solid storytelling by the old crew, I’m really keen on seeing what new directions the new creative team will take these characters.

Creative Team: Zac Thompson (writer), Hayden Sherman (artist), Roman Titov (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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