When I heard BOOM! Studios was going to be making books in Buffyverse set/soft rebooted in 2019, I wasn’t sure what to think. I loved those shows, especially Angel.
But then when I heard that the Angel book was going to be written by one of my all time favorite writers (and not-so-secret mancrush) Bryan Edward Hill…and then I saw preview art by Gleb Melnikov…I was 100% on board.
Let’s dive into issue #1 (but not technically the first issue), shall we?
Snarky, Spoiler-Lite Recap
- Melnikov opens with a beautiful flashback to remind us that Angel used to be a real dick back in the day before he was cursed with a soul.
- It’s 2019 and people care too much about social media and how they are perceived on it (duh).
- 2019 Angel follows up on the people he saves even if they don’t happen to be gorgeous women.
- Angel’s real estate agent is awesome.
- Cool character from the Buffy Comics looks even cooler now.
- She’s also just as frustrating and vague as ever.
- The effects of social media in the Buffyverse are MUCH worse than I originally thought.
Remember how I said that this wasn’t the first issue of the series? That’s because there was an Angel #0 that came out last month which you honestly need to read to get the full effect of this one. That’s all fine and good, but I’m not a big fan of #1 issues that aren’t actually the start of the story. You can still read this one without it, but your understanding of Angel’s mindset (and a major character who’s mentioned) will suffer for it.
That said, it’s a serviceable opening chapter. Hill’s best work generally comes once he works his magical knack for getting you hopelessly invested in the characters. This issue doesn’t do a great job of that by itself, but taken in context with Angel #0, it makes the heartbreaking ending cliffhanger 10X more powerful. It also takes what should be tired/well-worn narratively territory and sets it on fire. Rest assured this is not your typical “social media rots your brain and your soul” trope at work, but the beginning of a tragic and intensely personal story.
Speaking of story, the issue’s opening flashback is fantastic. It’s so good in fact that I wish we’d gotten more follow through on it, although I’m sure we will down the road. I wasn’t familiar with Melnikov’s work before this, but I’m already enamored with his beautiful line work and dynamic storytelling.
There’s a lot of solid world building and character development here–some of it a little clunky as is customary for many first issues, but all of it wonderfully layered and exciting. Add in a deep cut character from the expanded Buffyverse and an intriguing mystery, and I’m definitely on board for this ride. It’s nowhere near my favorite thing I’ve read from Bryan Hill, but he’s laid the groundwork for Angel to potentially be one of the best in a short amount of time…maybe as soon as 5 (technically 6) issues.