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‘Angel #0:’ Comic Book Review

Well, Angel #0 is pretty much a surprise, with BOOM! Studios keeping things under wraps until about a week ago with their announcement. For readers of BOOM!’s Buffy reboot, you’d probably have caught sight of a particularly familiar handsome face peeking at the action in the last panel of Buffy #4. And that’s really how Angel #0 starts out, with the last few moments of Buffy #4 being seen from Angel’s perspective and his thoughts about how his past has led to his present state. If you’re concerned that Angel’s reboot has been scrubbed of Catholic guilt and self-flagellation, you really shouldn’t worry; once a brooder, always a frownier brooder.

Angel #0 doesn’t resolve the final bombshell of Buffy #4, and I don’t think anyone really would have expected that. It basically uses the Buffy book as a backdoor introduction, and #0 is really all about catching us up to speed on the character and why he’s in Sunnydale in the first place. So yeah, the #0 thing is sort of a “before Issue #1” kind of deal… I know, that’s so utterly shocking.

On to the story itself… Angel #0 is a bit origin story, a bit mission statement, and a bit personal struggle. A lot of issues are very ill-defined, but I think that’s sort of the point. We get a bit of the Angel-sans-soul (Maybe we can just call him “Angelus” for simplicity sake?) bit, him finally being smitten with a soul (Seems to be a wee bit different circumstances here.), before coming to the slightly-before-present in the Buffyverse. Surprisingly enough, we start the actual journey in Los Angeles itself, the City of Angels… The vibe is kind of Angel: Season 1 – a bit noir, a bit Hardy Boys. Of the characters that are introduced, Fee-Fee is probably the most intriguing, though she’s introduced with very little context. If I were a betting guy, I’ll wager that she’ll play a larger role in the ongoing series as it rolls out.

Without spoiling anything, Angel is basically trying to do good by helping a troubled girl get through some issues. He recognizes his past guilt and is trying to do better… not all that different from his past iteration. The events of this story lead him to his appearance in Sunnydale. I will note that I’m not a huge fan of the “man pain” genre, but this is Angel, and if he isn’t moaning about something, I’ll expect him to snap the Computer Science teacher’s neck. Oh, too soon?

Writing-wise, I thought the issue flowed well. It’s a tricky thing to determine if you like the writing style in a reboot; too similar and it’s basically a hack job, too different and it might as well be Mary Poppins with fangs. I exaggerate but I think the point is made. I look forward to seeing how Bryan Edward Hill progresses such an iconic character in a more modern context.

Artwise, I really dig Gleb Melnikov’s linework, and Gabriel Cassata’s colors work really well with the style. Melnikov’s linework has a bit of that noir-style grit with some moments of Batman: The Animated Series – dramatic shadows, minimal, but expressive, face linework, and a lot of movement. Cassata’s palette gives the whole book a sort of pulpy feel that I think jives with what an Angel book should be, whether it’s set in the early 2000s or in the late 2010s.

Overall: A not-super-imaginative introduction to an old fan-favorite character with a few new intriguing elements mixed in.

Creative Team: Bryan Edward Hill (writer), Gleb Melnikov (artist), Gabriel Cassata (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
*Note: Angel #0 is not available online until May 1.

Wenxian Tan, Fanbase Press Contributor



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