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‘Angel #1’ (review)

Written by Bryan Hill
Illustrated by Gleb Melnikov
Published by BOOM! Studios

 

Buffy’s former flame and depressed detective returns with a whole new story for a new generation.

Last time we saw Angel on the small screen, he was calling dibs on slaying a dragon at the onslaught of the apocalypse.  Of course, like his former flame Buffy, his adventures weren’t over quite yet, as the vamp detective made the jump to comics.

After the drama ended its five year run in 2004, Angel made the movie to the bag n’ board crowd in Angel: After the Fall (2007–2009), Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 (2007–2011) and Angel & Faith (2011–2013). Not to mention a handful of one-offs.

Now, thanks to BOOM! Studios, the vamp with a soul returns to fans in this newly re-imagined story set in the more modern Buffy-verse.

The book reboots the original tale of how Angel left Los Angeles for the small-town “charm” of Sunnydale as he follows a potential demonic uprising.

It is here that the former Angelus hopes to move close to the restoration of his humanity. Unfortunately, the only way to regain his human side is through the death of a particular Slayer.

The premise of the book was set up in the prequel Angel #0, a surprise comic that caught Buffy fans off guard when it was released last month. The gloomy Gus also made a guest appearance in issue No. 4 of the new Buffy series.

The re-imagining of the Angel mythos gives writer Bryan Hill the opportunity to flesh out Angel’s backstory, including new friends, new heroes and a whole new list of sins he accomplished while Angelus.

The books revamps the vamp for the modern age, giving him a new backstory along with a new cast of characters, good and bad. It also makes use of new story conventions not available during the era of N’Sync. For example, using social media as a medium to spread evil for a generation who spend all their time documenting their experiences rather than living them creates a strong basis for modern day horror. After all, we live in an age where 91% of folks are on social media one way or another. Hell, I’m probably going to Tweet out this review when it is posted.

That said, updating the tale of Angel with modern inventions, ideals, and problems is the best way to reintroduce the vamp to a new generation. The book is clever in its writing and its portrayal of contemporary readers while staying true to hardcore Buffy fans. Nothing about Angel has changed in regard to his look, his demeanor or his downcast moods. But the environment in which he moves been spruced up to make room for cell phones, social media and cyber bullying.

The first issue of Angel also touches a bit on his newly-revised backstory, including his stint as Angelus, who wreaking havoc and mayhem on small villages while creating fledgling vampires out of local heroes.

The vibrant art reflects the update with a more modern look to the 20-year old tale. Detailed panels with a changing perspective captures the tone of the tale while adding a level of spookiness to the overall look of the book. It’s also nice that Angel continues to bear a likeness to David Boreanaz, who originated the role.

All in all, Angel #1 gives the morose vampire detective a much-needed makeover for the new millennium. He is battles demons both with his hands and his brains as he takes on the hidden horrors of fads, trends and obsessions of the modern teens. The book stays true to original material, thus giving longtime fans a chance to get involved, while updating the story for younger readers.

Behold Angel 2.0, a treat for both Gen X or Gen Z fans alike.

 

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