Season 1, Issue 0
Writer: Bryan Edward Hill, Art: Gleb Melnikov & Gabriel Cassata, Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Boris Pelcer
The BTVS Prologue: Writer: Jordie Bellaire & Bryan Edward Hall, Art: Dan Mora & Raúl Angulo, Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Note: There are parts of this issue which reveal spoilers for Boom!Buffy, S1, I04..., Also: this review contains a page of grue.
Page 01: We open on the scene of Xander being confronted/seduced by Drusilla, playing all sympathy and telling Xander that he's wanted.
Angel's voiceover makes clear he can also empathize with Xander's feelings of isolation and fear.
Commentary: And, like in Buffy, it bugs me that he's only spying on all of this. But he doesn't know the Scooby Gang at this point, and so I'm sure he's working his own angle against Dru and Spike that would be ruined by trying to save one random victim. Especially one that seems to ultimately submit himself.
Page 02: Angel watches as Xan weeps, and Dru comforts before ultimately assuring Xan that all of the pain is about to stop.
He voiceovers some more about his own turning as a boy, pretending he'd been a man.
Page 03: Dru gives Xander his first bite, and then leads his stumbling self away, under Angel's skulking watch.
He opines about the cycle of violence Dru kicked off in his turning. He offers that he might be powerless to ever stop it, but he wouldn't be him if he didn't at least try.
Page 04: We flashback on Angelus' past of burning down a house (possibly his own; there is a little girl who might be Kathy) and the village's church (which is also consistent with Angelus' quirks).
Angel continues droning to himself (unless he's become 4th wall aware) that he's killed without a soul and reveled in his lack of humanity. He now knows that he'll always suffer, because of that.
Page 05: Flashback-Angelus stands over the little girl with a snarl of hatred and blood on his lips as she stares up into his face and the fire rages beyond them.
Angel thoughts to himself that he deserves the suffering... forever.
Page 06: Flashback-Angelus now stands on a cliff face in a raging storm. Meanwhile, a mage stands in a mystic circle and shouts out a spell: Enoch! Marrakesh will swallow up with a curse! (according to Google Translate, from Hebrew)
Angel drones on (also consistent with his character across titles) that he deserves his pain with the realization of what he'd done after his soul-curse activated.
Commentary: I joke a little bit about Angel's droning on about things we already know, but I liked the artwork a lot in these flashbacks; Including sepia tone! And the touch of the biblical in the curse seems like a nice bit to reflect against Angelus' habit of targeting religious institutions in his rampages.
Page 07: Angel now aims that pain at the monsters, like that which he was, hoping that ultimately he'll find a bit of peace.
We're in flashback-land, after Angelus, but before Sunnydale. Angel is in L.A., training a young girl to be able to fight things like him.
The girl is filled with her own rage, and Angel tells her it's good to use that, but if she lets it take control while fighting, the vampires will use it against her. It'll make her too rash.
Page 08: We don't get her name, yet, but there is the impression that Angel has been working with her for awhile.
They have an easy comaraderie, and after Angel knocks her down, he's able to tell that she went somewhere during the battle. He asks where, and she admits that she was thinking of her father who had been killed in front of her, by something that ate him alive... and smiled at her afterward.
Angel tells her that anger is fear, and fear is what the demons feed on. She asks Angel what he's afraid of, his reply is "letting them win". He calls off the sparring for the night, and tells her that they'll be hunting the next.
Commentary: So, already I can say this Angel is much, much better than the awkward prime-Buffy S1 Angel.
I'm very happy with starting his series pre-Buffy, but already more like Angel we're familiar with from his own series, with a willingness to work with others and a focus to his 'mission' established.
Page 09: At home, on a bluff (so this Angel doesn't need a Cordelia-berating for not saving money over the centuries), Angel gets blood from the refrigerator. In the dawn's light through a window, he deliberately holds his arm in its lethal rays, burning himself.
Page 10: As the sun sets that evening, someone tells Angel that they've found a good mark. We're told that there is a demon running around, probably from a gate someone opened and didn't know how to close properly. The thing is targeting the homeless population, eating the head and leaving the rest as a torn apart mess.
[Except the artwork boo-booed. We can see a head from our victim.]
Page 11: We find out that the person speaking is a woman, "Fee-fee", who is a mystic and psychic. Fee-fee tells Angel she's cast some bones and can tell him the future, if he wants to hear it. But he declines, as he doesn't trust magick. Fee-fee disturbingly reports that it's so very fond of him.
She next turns attention to the girl, and tells Angel that he's worried about bringing her into the fight. She tells him to trust himself, and the fact that he saved her, already.
Page 12: Fee-fee offers Angel a pendant, despite his discomfort. She reports that since it's a full moon, he can stand under its light and focus on his hatred for his quarry. The gemstones will lead him to it.
She offers he could stay awhile to keep her company, but he's been asked this by her before and tells her he still needs to give a polite no. She accuses him, gently, of being determined to stay unhappy.
He turns a Bill Bixby-Hulk phase about her not liking him when he's happy.
Commentary: I already like Fee-fee, just in this two page introduction. But since Angel is off to Sunnydale, I fear for the fighting-girl and her not being around long. But here she's playing a similar role to the Slayer-turned-Sentience of Magic Town-Communicator, Nadira.
I also like the sexual tension with Fee-fee that can't be resolved, with maybe her either not knowing about/understanding the happiness clause, or not taking it seriously enough.
It's also interesting that we're starting with Angel already knowing about the happiness clause, which shakes up Jenny Calendar's role, and maybe will allow her to stay as a character in Giles' story longer.
Page 13: That evening, we find out Fighting-Girl is Helen, she has a sister that she doesn't talk much with since their father's death (no mention of a mother), and that Angel has been pressuring her to looking beyond a life as a monster-hunter (shades of the early Winchesters, here) and she returning pressure toward Angel to train more fighters to help.
Page 14: Standing above the Hollywood Sign, Helen brings up training others again, which Angel again declines.
He's holding out the pendant and from it emits a red ribbon, which streams up into the sky and drifts off into the distance. Angel points out to Helen that it's a trail to their demon.
Page 15: In an alley, a young girl is running for her life. Behind her is a werewolf looking creature, with bat-like ears. It's keeping up with her, despite her being fueled by panic.
Page 16: Angel is able to grab the young woman, and move with enhanced speed to get her out of the area, while Helen throws a knife from her motorcycle at the creature. He easily snatches this from the air, deriding the blade as a trinket.
Angel shouts at the would-be victim to run, but as he turns back to Helen, he sees that the were-critter-demon is talking to Helen. And she's looking right into its eyes.
The demon tells Helen that he knows the creature, being kin, who hurt her by eating her father.
Angel shouts at Helen not to look at it, but clearly that comes late.
Page 17: The were-demon casts a hypnotic glare into Helen's eyes, beckoning her closer, so he can tell her where her father is. She does so, in thrall.
Angel rushes toward her and tries to shout at her to turn away, but she's far too close to the demon now. To Angel's horror, the were-demon engulfs her head in its maw and crunches it off!
Commentary: Okay, so I did have Helen pegged as a goner as soon as we met her, but this encounter was still well written, starting out with heroics and then ending with her enthralled - all of her fighting training being totally useless as soon as her father was mentioned. It surprised me she didn't die fighting, but I don't object.
The design of the creature is a bit too werewolfy and uncreative, but he's well rendered and the gloopy ropes of bloody saliva from his eating Helen's head was a nice visual touch.
Page 18: Angel fangs out, and launches himself at the were-demon. And, driven by rage, easily puts his arms through its torso, and tears it nearly in half.
Rescued girl didn't flee far, and she asks from behind him if it's dead. Angel reminds her that he told her to run, and when he turns in her direction, he hasn't de-bumpy-faced, yet. She flees in another panic.
Angel kneels in despair.
Page 19: Sometime later, Helen's mentioned sister has pinned up signs for her missing sister.
Angel is with Fee-fee, and asks her if she knew that Helen was going to die. He's come to return the pendant to her and she offers that magick doesn't offer certainties. Death is always a possibility, including with Helen hunting.
This isn't a good answer, and Angel tells her that this is the last time they're to speak.
Fee-fee doesn't take it personally, but offers a last bit of advice: Take a break from L.A.
She suggests a little place called Sunnydale, with a bonus that it's sure to cause him the pain he's always seeking on himself.
She tries to offer that he may even make a friend, but Angel tells her from now on he works alone.
[And presumably, we're leaving flashback-land for the next issue.]
The Good: I liked the flashbacks from Angelus to Angel's transformation, a lot. Despite the rambling talking to himself that Angel was doing.
Angel's having a habit of deliberately harming himself for the pain is interesting.
I'm very happy with Angel starting with his own backstory fighting demons for his own reasons, instead of this being about spying on Buffy in L.A. and following her to hang around in dark alleys with cryptic clues.
The Bad: Nothing ends up here.
Other Thoughts: Angel's rambling reflections while he's watching Drusilla entice a victim sits wrong with me.
And, I like Angel the most when he has a cast around him to bounce off of... and I liked Fee-fee in her short appearance.
With the changes to Angel, it should be interesting how this changes things in Buffy.
The Score: 3.75 out of 5... this is a strong start.