Will Salmon checks out the first issue of the relaunched Angel comic
As first issues go, this is a success. For readers who have been following the comics, it feels like an exciting change of direction. For newbies who maybe know the show but not the comics, it’s perfectly clear and understandable – though Christos Gage’s script is a little info-dumpy in places.
It’s not, however, an entirely clean break…
WARNING: Big spoilers from the end of Buffy Season 8 from here on in.
So, the world has changed. Earth is cut off from the mystical dimensions and magic is no more. Angel is more or less back to normal after all of that confusing Twilight business. And Giles is dead. Murdered by Angel…
This is all big, game-changing stuff that needs to be addressed. And it is – to the extent that it overwhelms the story of the month. Angel is so consumed with guilt that he has decided to finish off the work that Giles started, by taking on the Watcher Files. He’s also moved to London and rocked up in Giles’ old house. Yeah, nice one. Kill a guy and then steal his pad, why don’t ya?
Faith has changed too. She’s still fond of fighting and dancing, but she’s calmer, more in control now. It’s a neat inversion of Angel season one, with her helping the angsty vamp to come to terms with the terrible things that he’s done.
The phrase that Whedon and Dark Horse have been trotting out about Season 9 is that it’s “back to basics”. That’s the right decision, I think. As entertainingly mad as Season 8 was, it took Buffy away from the show’s core idea: a group of likeable young characters dealing with real life, and battling monsters that reflect their inner turmoil. The back to basics approach is very clear from Angel & Faith (and hey, it’s their ampersand, not mine). It didn’t have me jumping out of my seat with excitement, but it’s a very strong start, with a very intriguing cliffhanger.