In a surprise release from BOOM! Studios this week, the character of Angel returns to comics as a part of BOOM!’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot. First appearing towards the end of this week’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer #4, Angel is given a quick and well executed set up for his new ongoing series in Angel #0. Written by Bryan Edward Hill and drawn by Gleb Melnikov, Angel #0 is a good reintroduction to Angel’s world and background, though it doesn’t do as much to differentiate the character from what has come before.
Angel #0 opens with a short prologue that builds on the character’s brief appearance in Buffy #4, connecting the character of Angel thematically to the ongoing Buffy storyline. In doing so, Hill’s script provides a recap of Angel’s origins, his dark past as Angelus, and how he regained his soul. Hill’s writing here is brief and to the point, quickly establishing Angel’s backstory without spending an unnecessary amount of page time on the vampire’s misdeeds. As a result, the majority of Angel #0 is set shortly before the character’s appearance in Buffy #4.
Angel is monster hunter prowling LA to defend innocents, familiar territory for the black leather-clad hero. Speaking of leather, the artistic teams behind the Buffy reboot comics have tweaked Angel’s design while still maintaining the character’s distinctive look. His hair is more in line with modern trends, and the long flowing leather coat has been replaced by a motorcycle jacket. These alterations are small, but they allow Angel’s iconic appearance to blend with the modern aesthetic of the Buffy series
In Angel #0, Hill is writing a short story that establishes the thematic concerns of his Angel series and the character’s role in the ongoing Buffyverse narrative. Angel is a vampire with a soul trying to do the right thing in a given situation, despite being unsure of whether or not he is ultimately worthy of redemption. He is also a loner, with the issue’s main story reaching a rather grim conclusion, establishing Angel’s character arc for both comic-book series’. To perform such a narrative feat, Hill introduces a short-lived supporting character, and in the span of only a handful of pages manages to flesh out her character for readers. Angel #0 is evidence that Hill can write a good story, and is a perfect fit for the Angel character.
The one fault in Hill’s story is that it does not differentiate his rebooted Angel from the previous version of the character. Whereas the new Buffy series redefined the protagonist’s world and supporting cast for 2019, Hill’s story for this issue could have easily been inserted into the previous Buffyverse continuity — except for the opening prologue. It is not a major concern because Angel #0 is the first issue of a larger story by Hill and Melnikov, so hopefully, the series next issue makes this take on the character stand apart from the Angel television series, and older comic stories.
Melnikov’s artwork isn’t as polished as Dan Mora’s, but his depiction of Angel captures the actor’s likeness quite well. The rougher linework also suits a gritty paranormal detective series like Angel, setting a different tone than Bellaire’s Buffy series. Melnikov’s rendering of the story’s fight scenes is great, with energetic figures that covey the brutality inherent to Angel’s world. This issue is rather vicious when compared to the Buffy series, and Boom! has found the perfect pair of creators to work on Angel.
The coloring work by Gabriel Cassata is astonishing and helps set the mood for each scene. The colors help to define the LA setting Angel occupies, and I can’t wait to see Cassata and Melnikov work together to bring more parts of the urban environment alive in future issues.
Angel #0 is a solid reintroduction to the titular character, with a well-written script and complementary artwork from Melnikov. A must-read for fans, both old and new.