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‘Angel #5:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Previously on Angel: The gang managed to put Groo to rest and neutralize Lord Lanugo, all just in time for the arrival of some dimensional hoppers. Introducing Man-Bun Spike and Rocker-Cliché Angelus, both looking decidedly evil and we’re not just talking about crimes against good taste here.

Turns out, it’s not only Spike and Angelus that have hopped in from another dimension; I guess it makes sense that they would be followed by a dimension-skipping vampire hunter, too. One with a decidedly familiar persona, no less. Meanwhile, Wesley’s deteriorating at a pretty brisk clip. With no good options on the table, Spike hits up an old acquaintance for some… unconventional assistance that may just save Wesley but possibly doom his own soul. With Angel getting a lucrative offer that’s hard to pass up and a few members at each other’s throats, it would appear that the Angel Investigations crew is fraying at more than just the edges.

After showing us how well this team can work together in a crisis, Christopher Cantwell’s script introduces a more fractious group, with some deep resentments rearing their ugly heads. Given the circumstances, the matter was exacerbated with Wesley’s zombiefication and Angel pulling double duty as an actor and champion. With Spike in the mix, it also begs the question about whether there’s just one way to be a champion. Cantwell puts quite a bite in these tense exchanges, leaning into some of that internal strife that may have been brushed aside from the earlier issues. Cantwell shows us that #StoriesMatter when they reveal character truths, even the ugly ones. Angel, when it ran, never shied away from that, at times giving its protagonists petty and vindictive agendas. Who better to show us human nature than a vampire with a soul - a being that literally struggles with his own humanity in the face of overwhelming evil?

All that being said, there are a couple of minor quibbles from me. The first is an editorial one. There have been several instances over the last few issues, including this one, of missing words which kind pf takes the reader out of the moment. There’s also the matter of the changing of the spelling of the name of Lanugo. My second issue is kind of hard to state without spoilers, but I think it’s been universally difficult for writers to translate a particular character into the comic format, and this iteration is no different. I think the most successful part of the character requires a strong visual component that can capture the eerie and unsettling nature of the character. While I get that this is a multiverse take on this character, their defining trait seemed to be absent until it was mentioned. Then again, maybe for the reason I mentioned, the creative team has decided to take a very different approach to writing them.

Daniel Bayliss’ artwork really gets a chance to shine in this issue. There are some nice action bits, but I think my favorite part is the two-page spread of a very stereotypical mad scientist laboratory. The character designs are also pretty great, with a very whimsical take on a reanimated butler being the high point. Patricio Delpeche and María Agustina Vallejo’s colors are generally fantastic, with the colorwork on the aforementioned lab scene being a clear winner. There are a couple of coloring inconsistencies, with vampire eyes being colored yellow in the previous issue, but Spike retaining his blue eyes in vamp-face here. Or maybe it’s a conscious coloring choice to differentiate the vampires from the different dimensions. Becca Carey’s lettering continues to serve this book well, successfully keeping even wordier pages easy to read.

Overall, as with everything, all good things must come to an end, but as with the wheel of life, this too shall pass. Right?    

Creative Team: Christopher Cantwell (writer), Daniel Bayliss (artist), Patricio Delpeche and María Agustina Vallejo (colorists), Becca Carey (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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