In the final season of the Angel TV show, beloved supporting character Fred Burkle (played by Amy Acker) was animated by the Elder God Illyria after her death. In a similar manner, Angel Season 11 #1 has some familiar faces, like Angel, Fred, and even flashbacks to Angel’s earliest days as a vampire in Ireland, but the comic reads like popular licensed characters going through the motions of a run of the mill horror\mystery\time travel story. Piling up genres and setting the comic in Ireland doesn’t add much to a snooze of a read.
The best Buffy and Angel comics have nailed the ways characters have spoken as well as their relationships and motivations and making changes in line with this. For example, Christos in Angel and Faith had Faith helping Angel find redemption by raising Giles from the dead, and there just happened to be other dimensions along the way. Unfortunately, writer Corinna Bechko just throws Angel and Fred into a haunted hotel in Dublin, has middling artist Gerardo Borges throw up some creepy imagery when he can’t even get Angel’s expressions straight, and adds some gimmicks like time travel to give the plot forward momentum. It seems like there will be a conflict between Fred and Illyria, but Bechko and Borges just use the latter to get them out of any plot snafus. She is like Superman of the Silver Age and gains abilities to fit the plot’s needs with no consequences to speak of so far.
With the exit of Faith as a co-headliner, Angel Season 11 #1 has the task of building a supporting cast, which is a problem that its sister title doesn’t have. Except this whole issue is just Angel and Fred running around a hotel pel-mell, looking in a coffins, and following random spiders. There is no relationship building or real tension between our two leads, and it seems like they are just there to fill the quota of two leads in a supernatural themed procedural. (Mulder and Scully, they are not.) Even when Giles’ immortal aunts Lavinia and Sophie show up, the writing for them lacks its comic relief.
The one positive in Angel Season 11 #1 is Michelle Madsen’s color palette. She uses a grey screen print tone to give the demon that Angel and Fred (Later Illyria.) battle a kind of Wicker Man vibe and uses a similar effect in the opening page with some black to introduce a still brooding Angel. Borges’ character poses and action/magical movements are all over the place, but Madsen’s sparkles of energy are a reminder that the Buffyverse is a place of wonder even if the stories set in it sometimes aren’t the greatest.
Angel Season 11 #1 ends with Angel traveling back in time so maybe figures from his past will pop up and playing supporting roles and help this comic transform from Irish Supernatural-lite to the Buffyverse’s “Days of Future Past.” But, for now, it’s just a mediocre exorcism story with a time travel twist, two stiff lead characters, and uninspiring art. It’s definitely not the best way to launch a new season.
Story: Corinna Bechko Art: Geraldo Borges Colors: Michelle Madsen
Story: 4 Art: 5.5 Overall: 4.7 Recommendation: Pass
Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review