Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: Angela #1

Angela #1, Cover Date December 1994
Written by Neil Gaiman, Art by Greg Capullo

Angela 1 cover 1994 series

I'll be honest: I know next to nothing about the character "Angela" going in. I know Neil Gaiman created her, won a few legal battles with Todd McFarlane, and then somehow the character ended up in the Marvel Universe, as part of the Guardians of the Galaxy. After writing her initial appearance in a Spawn storyline, Gaiman wrote a mini-series starring Angela in 1994, and here we are!

Angela 1 1994 Dragon fight

Our story begins on the frozen wastes of Sandalphon 5, where Angela is celebrating her 100,000 birthday (does she use earth years? Why?) by hunting a Sandalphon dragon. The ludicrously dressed angel stabs the dragon in the eye, and then after a few moments, the dragon falls on her. No sooner has Angela cut off the monster's head and prepared it to be sent out to the taxidermist, then a host of angels show up and declare Angela under arrest. After considering a fight with 300,000 angels, Angela decides to surrender quietly to Surielle, the obviously evil rival angel who is arresting her.

Angela 1 1994 Dragon
Angela runs afoul of the Sandalphon 5 game warden.

Back on earth, Spawn mopes around, feeling bad about Wanda (WANDA!), and how she married his best friend. Elsewhere on earth (I think), Angela's friends Anahita and Kuan Yin stop preparing for Angela's party as they've heard of Angela's arrest. Anahita immediately suspects foul play and the duo travel to an MC Escher type file area, where they pressure reluctant angel Saranyu into showing them the evidence collected against Angela. Apparently some earth-middle management angel is mad at Angela for losing to Spawn, and says she was on earth without permission or orders. The angelic duo respond by tracking Spawn on earth, sucker-punching him while invisible. They appear in front of Spawn and tell him he's going to heaven.


Coming in knowing essentially nothing about the character or the situation, this book does a pretty good job of getting me to like Angela. She spends a full 1/3 of the comic fighting a big dragon, ending with holding its decapitated head up as a trophy, so that's pretty cool. I really don't enjoy Angels and Demons in my fiction, and I really don't enjoy courtroom drama in my angels and demons fiction, so I have to say I don't much like where the story is going. I trust Gaiman enough that I doubt the big conclusion will be a simple court scene- hopefully he has the trial in issue #2 (this is a 3 issue mini), and then has a more action-heavy final issue.

Angela 1 1994 Spawn button
"Hey I sent in 5 cereal box tops for those Spawn buttons!"

Capullo's art is solid, and while it does have plenty of cheesecake, there's also shots of dragons and other monsters that are pretty cool. You can definitely see why he replaced McFarlane, as while he's not quite as cartoon-y as McFarlane, he's got a style somewhere between McFarlane and Jim Lee (that he would later put to good use as the artist on the New 52 Batman). The book also has digital coloring that's way ahead of what Marvel was doing- I assume it's the Malibu digital coloring process that Marvel purchased in 1995. The best thing about it is probably how bright the colors are. While there are some Spawn-y blacks and reds, the angels show up in a bubble-gum pink cloud, and the alien sky on the ice planet is a nice little mix of colors.

Angela 1 1994 Spawn
Spawn in his natural state: brooding.

I guess I shouldn't be that surprised that a Neil Gaiman written book is pretty good, even if it's a spin-off of something I know nothing about, and in a genre I usually don't enjoy.

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