Angel: Blood and Trenches #1
Story & Art: John Byrne, Letters: Chris Mowry, Edited: Chris Ryall
Cover Art: John Byrne, Cover Coloring: Tom Smith/Scorpion Studios
Set Up: This story takes place during WWI. This issue is also largely black and white, with red being used sparingly to highlight blood.
Page 1: There’s a winter storm going on. Someone (hint: It’s Angel) is narrating that they are carrying wounded men in a ‘lorry’. There is only an hour before dawn, which is praying on the mind of our narrator. Nearby, an explosion goes off.
Page 2: Angel struggles to control the vehicle, but it’s a lost cause. The truck tips over. As Angel recovers from a tumble down an embankment, we see the cause of the explosion. There is a plane fast approaching.
Page 4: The Fokker tri-plane swoops in for another run, this time targeting the truck carrying the wounded. Angel watches in horror and outrage as the truck is shot up. As the plane flies off, for good this time, Angel goes to the back of the now burning truck. He grabs the men and drags them away from the fire. The men’s blood covers his hands and the smell invades his nostrils. He backs away and tries to control himself.
Page 5: Trying desperately to focus on something else, he remembers why he came to
(reading the paper): “Sources inform the Enquirer that there is no kind of medicinal machine which could so completely drain a human body without collapsing and damaging veins and arteries. Sources say no such damage has been found in the fifty or more bodies discovered thus far. One thing has been reported to be consistent in all these mysterious killings. An unidentified mark or sign has been found scribed in the blood of the victims.”
Page 6: Angel breaks into the public library and researches the symbol that had been reproduced in the paper.
Page 7: He finds evidence that the mark is a symbol for a particular vampire cult (I’m not sure if this is deliberate, but the vamp looks a whole lot like Kakistos from BTVS that was hunting for Faith). Angel makes his way to
Page 8: The Germans torpedo the ship and then shoot at the survivors in the water. As the ship goes into its death throes, our vampire manages to sneak aboard the German U-boat.
Page 9: Two days later, the sub breaks the surface near the coastline of
Page 10: … Only to get hit by a truck. Brilliant. He’s knocked unconscious, but of course, the soldiers driving the truck believe he’s dead. They load him up.
Page 11: He comes to at an aid-station. As the young woman overseeing the place insists on helping him, one of the soldiers who brought him in is convinced that he was dead.
Page 12: As Lady Margaret D’Ascoyne tries to get him to submit to a physical, and offers him a hot bath to clean up….
Page 13: Corporal ‘Jealousy’ is reporting the strange turn of how Angel was dead and then he wasn’t: they have standing orders to report anything strange, no doubt due to the odd conditions of the 50+ bodies that have been found without blood. Meanwhile, Margaret is flirting with Angel, when a vampire breaks through the window.
Page 14: There are two of the things, but Angel is able to dust one of them. The thing loses the advantage when he reacts with shock to discover Angelus at the aid-station.
Page 15: The second creature is dusted. Angel explains to Lady Margaret that he has been fighting such monsters for a long time. He asks for her assistance in helping him to blend in. She gives him a job as an ambulance driver.
Page 16: As Angel begins evacuating soldiers that require more attention than the aid-station can give, a Colonel from command shows up and begins asking questions about him. When he hears that Angel only works the night shift, he orders his driver to follow the ambulance’s route.
Page 17: We catch up to where we started the story: A tri-plane swoops over the ambulance and the vampire pilot drops a hand grenade which blows up near the ambulance and leads to the crash.
Page 18: Back in the present, Angel is no longer able to resist the call of the dead men’s blood soaking their garments. He bends over a body and feeds… just in time for the Colonel and his men to show up.
Page 19: Angel is beaten and bound and then tossed in a trunk.
Page 20: Lady Margaret is awoken by the awful racket made by Colonel Geoffrey Wyndam-Price returning to the station with Angel bound in a trunk.
Page 21: Wyndam-Price orders the personnel at the station to be rounded up. Angel is quickly bound to a chair.
Page 22: In order to root out any ‘infected’, Wyndam-Price opens the curtains on the dawn. Angel, naturally, doesn’t react well….
The Good: I’ve always liked John Byrne’s artwork, so this gets high marks, even though all of his faces look very much alike.
Using black and white, so that things like blood (in color) stands out, is a neat creative decision and really works well.
The continuity is nice. We have the Germans experimenting with using vampire soldiers, which they’ll go back to in WWII. We also have Wyndam-Price, obviously the grandfather of Wesley (who is currently serving Wolfram & Hart in Angel: After the Fall). And, we can see why Angel was so reluctant to help the
The Bad: Nuthin’, as long as you don’t mind largely black and white artwork. And, John’s habit of drawing faces all the same shape – especially mouths agape.
Scoring: With an interesting storyline, hints of future continuity and some great looking artwork, this one is a winner; 4.0 out of 5 Stars.