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Angel (review)—“Get behind me I’ll take the hit”

Story: Bryan Edward Hill

Art: Gleb Melnikov, Gabriel Cassata

Boom! Studios, 2019

ONE CREATES AND ONE COPIES, like seed to seedling  or student grasshoppers learning to chirp. Vampires copy, too, just like you having kids, each imperfectly, due to intercourse mixing genes according to taste.

Artists copy and writers copy as anyone who talks copies, all derived and mostly belonging to others before you until a slender variation occurs to adapt to immediate necessity, simplicity, and beauty, to express something more, the way poetry coheres in long lines into something more as we stretch to put words we know and invent together in a scene.

Epiphanizing this way relays the pleasure I found in the new version of Angel the vampire, Number 1 by Boom! Studios, continuing the handsome devil’s vaulted career on his own after first appearing as a fiend with benefits in Buffy the Vampire Slayer story that became a cult classic in the 1990s. I gave him only slight attention before this, though I was glad to see him thriving, like, go dude. He has a difficult relationship with virtue that makes his modern triumphs feel exemplary.

The story by Bryan Edward Hill starts slow in a glimpse of the past, not an origin story, just a look at Angel when he lived as a leader of a dread army in the age of bow and axe and hammer, recruiting whom he could use to rule by blood. These scenes and others like them stamp the tapestry of Angel’s life, no matter who he is presently or might wish to become. Becoming “better” is a matter of perspective with a long tail in his past experience that adheres and does not disappear.

This is a common theme in stories of demons of all sorts who mend their ways and try to carry on better and find the biggest bully is not outside to be conquered and disposed of but inside unassailable. The worst can expect inevitable transfer to a spot upside down in boiling goo in one of the remoter rings of hell.

Art by Gleb Melnikov drew me into this tale with a fascinating use of screens and shades, expressive faces, and stark figures. Two full-page scenes in the first issue pop up gasping off the page, splashing blood and flames. Future issues promise more impressive scenes, as the one shown here in a familiar setting, as well as more slavering outbursts from the realms beyond. At the risk of eternal torment, I intend to bring bait or someone else along who might be expendable before opening the next issue.