One of the worst things you can do with a comic book series that has established characters is go in completely blind. Sometimes the backstory isn’t divulged so clearly for new readers, which leaves you wondering what the heck is going on. But then, there’s also some excitement in not knowing and going in with fresh eyes. Angela is a character Marvel has tried to integrate into their lineup for a while now, and it hasn’t worked as cleanly as most would like. Can this new series do it? Is it good?
Angela Queen Of Hel #1 (Marvel Comics)
This issue opens with Sera narrating her story as she details her relationship with Angela and how Angela is now the queen of Hel. The story jumps around from “then,” to “now,” then to eight months ago. I can’t say I had the easiest time following these jumps, but if you give it a chance they actually help make the flashback in this issue—which contains a huge reveal everyone will be talking about—understandable.
Why does this comic book matter?
Ever since this character appeared in Spawn fans have been clamoring for more of Angela. She’s a badass female protagonist with some wild powers and an interesting hook as she exists in a version of Heaven and Hell (or is it Hel?). One of the biggest reasons she had a hard time being integrated into the Marvel Universe is that at first she was a villain of sorts. She fought the Guardians of the Galaxy for a bit there, but really had no tether to the universe. She has that now with the Sera character and I suspect this issue will be the first to solidify Angela into the Marvel universe.
Sweet looking Demon if I do say so myself.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
First off there’s a fantastic montage of sorts as writer Marguerite Bennett shows us Hel proper. Bennett shows us that it’s not what we’ve come to expect when someone uses the word Hell and in a lot of ways it’s Heaven, Hell and Purgatory all wrapped into one. The comic details the different facets and makes a clear distinction as to why it’s so complex and compelling.
Most of the issue beyond this intro is focused on building up Sera and Angela’s relationship. Showing us their little in-fights, jokes and whatnot to make the relationship real and meaningful. They have a complex relationship and I think Bennett does a good job establishing where they are at and how important they are to each other. This makes the cliffhanger all the more felt and it should spur on an interesting storyline for Angela.
The art by Aaron Kim Jacinto and Israel Silva—main story artist and color artist respectfully—looks very sharp and clean. It reminds me of Spawn in some ways, with a heavier inked line and a more subdued color palette. Between their work and the “substory” artist Stephanie Hans the book is rather gorgeous. Hans’ art is very dreamlike and suits the flashback sequence nicely.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
Some of the story elements feel clunky and move along a bit too slowly for my tastes. In some ways scenes feel more like events without purpose, although it’s plain to see we’re seeing character building and their dynamics building, but they are quieter moments that lack a clear direction. This might be in part due to the art which appears to meander a bit at times and not tell a story a effectively, beautiful as it is, as the dialogue does.
The clunkiness appears to be partly due to the voice at work in the issue. While it opens with Sera narrating things the flashback loses the narration and then finally the conclusion is very much Angela’s story. In a sense I was left wondering who the main character was between Sera and Angela. Leaving off with a powerful moment with Angela made me wonder why we weren’t in her head all along.
The bits about Hel are the best part!
Is It Good?
I’m starting to get these characters and I enjoyed the character dynamics that were built up here. The issue is gorgeous through and through and the peek into Hel is exciting stuff. It didn’t gel perfectly, but it’s a nice start.