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‘Angel & Spike #9:’ Advance Comic Book Review

As the first issue in the new arc after the Hellmouth Event, Angel & Spike #9 delivers on several fronts. Establishing a new team dynamic. Check. Introduce a new mysterious threat. Check. Trot out a familiar face. Definitely.

After returning to LA from the Hellmouth, Angel trades a few barbs with Spike before agreeing (albeit, begrudgingly) to a truce. For his part, this iteration of Spike seems a lot less abrasive than his previous form, and the relationship between the two is less immature than their past selves, too. The Wolfram and Hart threat still looms large, but the focus has shifted to a more immediate threat: an eyeless man with an unknown agenda. With nowhere else to turn, a cop calls on Angel Investigations. I wonder if the “rats” are affordable… Angel’s house looks pricey. Hell, it’s LA… a garden shed would probably be expensive.

Bryan Edward Hill was born to write these characters. The pacing feels organic and while the characters aren’t necessarily new, they feel refreshed. It keeps certain relationships from feeling stale. Angel and Spike have history and beef, but, in this iteration, it’s less childish and more wary respect for each other’s dark pasts. What’s also interesting is that Spike shows signs of wanting to be “good” this early on, and I wonder if the necessity of a soul to be truly “good” will be explored in this arc, seeing as Angel and Spike are mirrors to each other. It would be a point worthy of a revisit, and the Angel series has ultimately been a story about redemption. #StoriesMatter because they allow nuanced explorations of morality and ethics that are difficult to navigate in real-world situations due to our knee-jerk reactions to them.

I’m going to petition for Gleb Melnikov to never leave this series. I’ve been of two minds of what a reboot should look like. On the one hand, it makes sense to use the likenesses of the actors from the previous iteration, for recognition purposes. Melnikov has convinced me that sometimes, rebooting the appearances of the characters can totally make things feel fresher. Sure, Spike and Gunn bear some resemblance to their past iteration, but, for the most part, Melnikov’s character designs just keep the bare necessities and run with it. Roman Titov’s colorwork really slaps. Whether it’s the iconic sunsets of LA, or the green-tinged creepy moments, or the washed-out fluorescent lighting of the hospital, Titov’s work seems to effortless convey tone and atmosphere. Ed Dukeshire’s letters work pretty harmoniously with the art; the off-panel dialogue flows you right into the moment.  

Overall, this is a solid start to the third arc. I’m excited to see how things will fit in the bigger “Ring of Fire” context.

Creative Team: Bryan Edward Hill (writer), Gleb Melnikov (artist), Roman Titov (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Click here to purchase.

Wenxian Tan, Fanbase Press Contributor



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