BOOM! Studios has rebooted the Buffy-verse, and with that, Angel, everyone’s favorite tall, dark, and broody vampire from the early 2000s. Angel #4 continues writer Bryan Edward Hill’s reimagining of the character with Gleb Melnikov on art, Roman Titov on colors, and Ed Dukeshire serving as the letterer. Titov is new to the series but outside of him, this creative team has proven over the last two issues to have a knowledge and passion for the material that brings a new life to old characters while making me fall in love with them all over again.
Last issue, we got the first appearance of fan-favorite Winifred Burke, or Fred as fans of the Whedon-verse know her. With Angel seemingly banishing the vanity demon from the world, he saves Fred and brings her back to his house in Sunnydale to keep her safe from the demon hunting her. While Lilith predicts the introduction of other characters and the importance of bringing together the team we know from the television series, we see Angel take off to the demon’s world, melting into the floor, skeleton exposed.
Now, in Angel #4, our titular character is in a twisted realm where he is tortured by visions of past atrocities and a mysterious figure with a stake just for him. In order to escape an eternity under the demon’s power, Angel is forced to confront his own darkness that takes the form all of those he killed before, as Angelus. Instead of opening the issue with a flashback, we open with Angel being told what he’ll confront as we also see Lilith using her power to help clear Fred’s mind.
Angel #4 is the perfect end to an arc by forcing Angel to confront himself before he can confront the big bad. Hill’s choice to have the demon call Angel Redeemer cuts deep. Angel is a vampire with a soul and ultimately a man looking for redemption through sacrificing his time and himself to save others from the darkness he used to live in. It’s on the nose but works well to foreshadow Angel’s journey for new fans of the moody and broody vampire. This is all while serving as a nod to those of us who already understand him.
In addition, as a fan of the Buffy-verse, one of the most interesting concepts is that not all darkness is evil. With demons like Lorne and Anya, the series in the universe has proven as Lilith says in Angel #4, “Darkness can fight evil too.” The grey areas of the slaying world are where the best stories come from. In 2000’s Angel, we lived in that grey and now, this series promises to as well.
This issue, we also see the introduction of “the Gunn.” Charles Gunn, a Los Angeles vampire hunter, has long been one of my favorite characters in the Angel series. He’s steadfast in his morality and truly the most loyal of the team or any character in the Buffy-verse. Well, maybe second only to Buffy: The Vampire Slayers’ Xander – you know, yellow crayons.
That said, the previews for this issue hyped up Gunn’s introduction to the series but we only get him very briefly. While I’m excited about a future spent with him, I wish we had received more in Angel #4 given the promotion of this issue. However, even though I want more Gunn, this issue also sees more of Angel’s wit on display as he takes on the vanity demon on his turf, bringing in elements of humor to the dire situation.
As usual, while Hill’s script captures the spirit of the characters, Melinkov’s art brings them to life. While other issues have been focused on the horror, this issue is focused squarely on Angel. As a character, he’s been represented as almost despondent or consistently brooding, brow scrunched permanently – even in the Dark Horse iterations of the character.
That said, Melnikov captures the likeness of the actor behind the character that fans are familiar with while giving him depth and emotion as he confronts the death he’s wrought. While the emotive qualities of Melinkov’s art is on point, the clothes he gives Angel are even more-so; a nice nod to fans of the show to see his signature style updated but the same.
Beyond Angel, Melinkov’s illustration of Lilith’s true form and his close-ups of Fred are gorgeous and dark and complimented by Titov’s colors that have a vibrancy fit for the genre. While I praise them every issue, the simplicity of Angel #4 highlights the talents of the creative team and how well they complement each other. While I wish I had seen more of Gunn, the panels I do get are enough to make me excited to see him later on, both in Melinkov’s take on the character and Hill’s writing of his introduction.
Finally, with Hellmouth #1 on the horizon, the first Buffy and Angel comic event starting with Angel #5, this issue does a great job of setting it up. If you were waiting for a full arc to complete before jumping in, now is your chance to pick up one of the best horror comics of the year, and truly the best iteration of Angel.
Angel #4 is available everywhere now.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.