Pullbox Reviews: Angel TPB Vol. 1 – All the angst but with a lot more depth

BOOM! Studios, along with visionary writer and director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marvel’s The Avengers), presents the shocking reimagining of the pop culture phenomenon ANGEL! * Angel walks the line between two worlds; a vampire cursed with a soul, he’s spent centuries battling back the forces that would destroy humanity, in an attempt to redeem himself for the crimes committed by the monster he was when he was first turned. But now, when the trail of the most recent demonic uprising takes him to Sunnydale, he realizes that the redemption he seeks can only come at a startling price. * As Angel gets closer to redemption, the full truth of his horrific past as Angelus will be revealed and there may be no way to escape his darkest secret of all. * Written by Bryan Edward Hill (Detective Comics, Killmonger) with art from Gleb Melnikov (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) , discover a brand new, modern take on one of the most iconic vampires in pop culture, perfect for fans and new readers alike! * Collects issues #0-4.

Fans of the original Whedonverse may have given a pass to this series reboot, but I will say with all confidence that they’re doing themselves a disservice. For that matter, new readers might be thinking that there’s just too much history and backstory behind these books… “How on earth will I ever catch up?” No worries, kids. Since taking over the reigns of all things Whedon, Boom! has been killing it with their re-imagined stories of the Slayer, the Scoobies, and of course the vampire with a soul, cursed with the knowledge of the horrors he’s committed over his centuries of undeath, Angel.

When I say”reboot”, I need you guys to understand something… I hate reboots. Despise them with a deep and fiery passion that borders on pathology. The concept of the reboot as it exists in media today says that “we have no more original ideas, so we’re just going to beat the hell out of what we already know is popular until it falls into a pit of despair from which there’s no return, and you guys will buy it because we think you’re sheep who will continuously fall for our shenanigans.” However, as one of the aforementioned fans of Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse, I took a chance with the new stories from Boom! Studios.

Hey, they made the Power Rangers awesome! It was a risk I was willing to take.

Written by Bryan Edward Hill, a guy whose books I’ll pick up on name alone, Angel has been a highlight in the new run of books. He’s dark and brooding, as he should be, but Hill is giving readers a little more depth than just “Woe is me, I’m handsome and have perfect hair but my nights are full of angst because I’m in love with a teenager.” In this storyline, Angel’s real troubles stem from friendships he’s accumulated, reluctantly, since regaining his soul. He’s constantly watching people he’s come to care for grow old and die. There’s a great scene between Angel and an old friend, a man he’d saved as a child, who is now in his forties with a teenage daughter of his own- a fact that Angel seems almost oblivious to, and is inexplicably shocked by. Hill’s taken the template and turned it just a bit, so old fans are given a new look at a familiar character, and new fans are introduced to someone worth getting to know.

Gleb Melnikov takes Hill’s story and gives it a dark and brooding life. Take a look at the preview pages below, and you get an idea of what I’m talking about. Melnikov uses sharp lines, almost jagged with just a little bit of chaos in the mix, and when they’re combined with the colors by Gabriel Cassata’s colors the mood is set. In the later chapters, Roman Titov takes over the coloring duties, and he maintains that ideal. Finally, Ed Dukeshire’s work in lettering is noteworthy on a couple points. First, he gives the dialogue a mood, which isn’t an easy thing to do in comics. Second, he does it all without taking over the page, letting the reader focus their attention on the illustrations while the words play out. The overall look of the book is all contrasts between shadows & light… perfectly fitting for Angel’s central theme.

If you’re new to the Whedonverse, curious about the world of Slayers, vampires, and demons, but thought maybe there was just too much to try jumping into, this is your chance. Boom! has taken what’s already been done, and revamped (heh, I caught that after I typed it…) it for fans old and new. You don’t need to know what’s happened, because they’ve taken the old and made it new while keeping the spirit of the story & its characters true.

Final Score: 10+

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