The first issue of Angel ended with Angel, Fred, Illyria and the readers being sent on a journey into the titular character’s past. It was a solid setup for a new kind of arc that the series had never really tackled before.
Thankfully, though, there’s an unexpected twist right at the beginning of this comic that sends the story spinning in a different direction. They haven’t traveled back to Angel’s past. Instead, they’ve traveled back to Illyria’s. This is a big deal, as Illyria ruled as a pure demon thousands of years ago, before her kind were banished from the earth.
In just a few episodes, Illyria became one of my favorite characters on the Angel TV show and she has, thankfully, undergone quite a bit of growth in the comics series. She’s not exactly evil, nor is she altogether good. Illyria is a warrior, very blunt, but it’s not always easy to tell what she’s thinking.
This issue gives great insight into her character. Angel is defined by his remorse, but while Illyria speaks highly of what a proud ruler she once was, she has her share of guilt to reckon with, too. This is a chance for Illyria to make up for some of the wrongs in her own past, which is a great spin on the central conceit surrounding Angel’s inherent drive for redemption.
For longtime fans of the Buffyverse, this is an especially engaging issue, because it manages to cover ground we’ve never seen before. As much as we’ve heard about Illyria’s days as a pure demon, as much as she’s gloated about that time, it’s not something that’s ever actually been explored in any real way. It’s also something that Illyria has very complicated feelings over.
While the dynamic between Fred and Illyria is great, only one of those characters can ever be present at once, which means that the main cast always consists of only two characters at a time. It’s an interesting interesting tactic—after all, for a long time Angel & Faith only featured those two regularly—but I would love to see the roster expanded to a few more characters.
There are major characters like Gunn and Connor who we haven’t seen in a while. This would be a perfect time to bring them back now, that the comic has reverted to its original title.
The artwork, by Geraldo Borges, is especially strong when depicting the scope of this demon-infested distant past. The new demons we see have a visual consistency that makes them look believably like they could have put in an appearance on the show, had it been gifted a larger budget.
There’s not as much of a focus on likenesses so much as character, and that’s a good thing. These aren’t just drawings of actors, rather they convey the struggles and emotions of Angel, Fred and Illyria, as characters, in impressive ways.
Overall, this continues to be a strong start to a soft reboot of Angel. And it’s refreshing to go into a book like this month to month with no real idea of what to expect.
WICKED RATING: 7.5/10