Boom! Studios 2019
Written by Bryan Edward Hill
Illustrated by Gleb Melnikov
Coloured by Gleb Melnikov & Gabriel Cassata
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
Angel, one of the only vampires in the world with a soul, has been walking the streets of Los Angeles for years, neither human nor vampire. After losing his human protege to another of Los Angeles’ monsters, Angel is told by his mystical guide Fee-Fee to journey to Sunnydale, California. Uncertain of what lies ahead for him, the only thing Angel knows now is that he is destined to face his demons alone…
For those of you like me who aren’t Buffy fanatics just casual viewers of the delicious David Boreanaz you are going to really enjoy this. While yes Angel is an important player in the Buffy universe this one starts off with him heading to Sunnydale where he hasn’t even met the current slayer yet. So the potential to get to know him, his struggle between the man he was and the man he is takes centre stage without distraction. There is no one else I would rather see take on the complexity of this character than Bryan either. He will get into the mind-set and explore Angel in ways that are sure to thrill readers old and new alike.
The opening here is perfectly done for me. There is a boy, Javan, who we see alerting Mara that the riders are coming. I will be honest at first I was thinking that boy might be Angel so when the truth is revealed there are all sorts of things that run through my head. The opening is powerfully done, thought provoking and provides a glimpse at characters we haven’t met before and this alone is cause for rejoice. Also there is just that certain something special about being able to see for ourselves just how long Angel has lived while getting to see the past come to life before our eyes. There is excitement fraught with danger and it’s the feeling of that which will capture the reader ensuring they delve deeper into the issue.
Gleb is a new artist whose work I have not seen before but I can already tell is poised to make a huge splash in the industry. Boom! Has found a very talented young (Belarusian) man to work for them. The way that we see the varying weights of the linework being utilised to create such beautiful attention to detail is exciting. He knows how compose the panels as well in which he is able to create that sense of movement or feelings of tension and foreboding. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a very strong, solid eye for storytelling. When backgrounds are being utilised the expand the moment and bring a beautiful sense of size and scope to the story. The colour work is sensational. I like the way that colours are utilised within a colour, like the different reds in the blood or the streaks in the hair. There are continually these little oft overlooked details that make the book stronger on the whole.
If I didn’t know who Angel was, hell even though I do, this is an incredibly strong first issue. The writing with the story & plot development, this is great pacing and the character development and characterisation that we see engages the reader perfectly. What we see, what we think and what we think we know is all out the window at this point. Through encounters with others and flashes of his dark past we are getting to see a different definition of the darker angst that lies within him that he isn’t willing to let go or forgive himself for.
This is one I urge you to give a go. Love him or hate him this isn’t the version we’ve seen on television for who knows how long, this is what I imagine he should be like. Bryan, Gleb, Gabriel and Ed are taking Joss’ creation and making this the unexpected surprise you’ve been waiting for.