“A long time ago – about 20 years now – in a galaxy not very far away, an angel appeared. A redheaded, badass angel who hunted Hellspawn. Created by Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane Angela made her debut in Spawn #9 way back in 1993 when she came to earth to hunt poor Al Simmons – Spawn – who had no idea what her problem was. They tussled, his cape went into defense mode, and sucked the two into another dimension; Angela flees for her life, leaving her spear behind. End Scene.” (Tales from the Longbox: Spawn #9 and the Angela Mini-Series By Rosemary Kiladitis December 19, 2013
Be warned, there is a fair amount of recap in this review. If you don’t want to know anything about the story STOP READING NOW!
That’s from what my well-read and Angela fan-girl, Rosemary Kiladitis had to say almost a year ago during Marvel’s infamous retconning of one of comicdom’s most cherished of characters. Fast forward to a few months ago, and you’d find me developing a crush on Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane’s warrior angel and resident bad-ass. I fell in love with her and even bought myself a 9.8 CGC copy of Spawn #9. And today you’ll find me reading and re-reading “Angela: Asgard’s Assassin” issue #1.
Angela is back and the star of her much-anticipated solo comic; a long time coming since her Image comics miniseries. After her debut in Age of Ultron issue #10, a story arc in the current Guardians of the Galaxy comics, and a major player in Original Sin: Thor and Loki, she’s back and Heaven help us all. She’s a tough, battle hardened, realm weary “warrior without a home.” When “Angela: Asgard’s Assassin” begins we’re treated to one of the most reverently drawn scenes by series artist, Phil Jimenez. With inks by Tom Palmer and colors by Romulo Fajardo, it seems as if McFarlane stepped back into the world of Angela and decided to squash his botheration with Marvel. The angel who wasn’t an angel walked across a desert that wasn’t a desert. Angela is stuck in the living hell of Limbo’s sands of time. She’s angry, walking with steely determination and a baby cradled in her arm, towards a town that seems straight out of a spaghetti western. She’d probably have to kill someone. And it was far too early in the day for murder. She really was trying to cut down. Kieron Gillen, credited for the main story, writes Angela as a female Clint Eastwood of sorts that becomes more and more like a mystical version of Marvel’s own, Black Widow. The tall, ginger, angel who wasn’t an angel encounters a motley crew; an inter-dimensional western posse. She’s looking for her friend Sera, who we see developed in a substory by Marguerite Bennett and Kieron Gillen. Angela wishes to deliver the baby she has while attempting to lose the trail of a group of armored warriors on horseback. Asgardian perhaps? Apparently she hasn’t and has to contend with them as the posse speculates the outcome. Sera, knowing full well what her girl is capable of, rests assured that the cards will play in Angela’s favor. One thing you have to know about my girl Angela… She’s fast. It’s in this moment that Jimenez gives way to a furious battle that is unlike previous depictions of the warrior angel. While certain flips, sword strikes, and leaps bring to mind McFarlane and Capullo (especially with her ornate tails cutting through the air) this is Jimenez’s Angela. And she’s a mythical and mystical angelic bad-ass.
Angela, well, “she’s got a bit of an ego.” After defeating her pursuers, she’s annoyed that she wasn’t able to lose them. After all, she was brought up to be a hunter and one of the finest warriors throughout the entire Marvel (and Image) Comics universe! She also has the track record to prove it and a body count to put Red Sonja to shame! This is what leads to Sera recounting her history with Asgard’s Assassin. Years prior, while Angela was out in the other galaxies, she crossed paths with a group of settlers who “had forever lost their way.” Coming across a child, much as in the way Odin found Loki, she made a deal (as angels are reportedly deal makers and not gift givers). Instead of giving, she balances her terms with the settlers in name of “a price for a service; a payment for a debt.” Angela saves them with the understanding that they will raise the child to “know her name, her legend.” Years later when she returns to their homeworld, the boy she saved has now become a king. She arrives to settle their debt by asking for the life of an angel they have imprisoned for murder. Refusing to let the imprisoned angel, revealed to be Sera, go free, Angela reminds them of why she is not to be trifled with! Stephanie Hans beautifully illustrates this flashback in direct contrast of the visual style Jimenez, Palmer, and Fajardo established in the main story. The flashback feels like a moving painting come to life and captures the beauty, grace, and violence of Angela. To come into conflict with Angela is compared to arguing with the flood and the storm and the mountain that vomits fire and stone.
Angela, as presented in her solo issue for Marvel Comics, is a little tougher and harder than you’d expect from the House of Ideas. She seems like a warrior fit for a Dynamite publication. The main cover by Stephanie Hans is very reminiscent of Red Sonja, especially as the book has that tone. For fans that long for the sleek, dangerous, and sexy vibe Angela had from the Spawn series, you may be disappointed in Marvel’s take. However, fans of Neil Gaiman’s character may not fully be turned off by Kieron Gillen’s approach. Gillen appears to acknowledge Angela’s convoluted history by accepting the responsibility that comes with redeveloping a character. While “Angela: Asgard’s Assassin” issue #1 reads independently of her previous adventures through the Marvel Universe, who’s to say that this isn’t the same Angela seen in Age of Ultron and years ago in Spawn. With all the realm centric stories that could be explored and developed in this series, it seems entirely plausible that within one of those galaxies is a McFarlane/Capullo/Gaiman universe that ripped open and, as if a gift from Heaven, has treated a whole new line of readers to a great character – ANGELA! Gillen’s plot for the first issue also delivers more than just a reintroduction to Angela and a backstory for Sera. There are a few developments that will surely have Marvel fans talking about this issue. He sets up a story arc that can be enjoyed separately from every other Marvel title or enjoyed with other offerings. The choice is entirely up to you, but Angela is an exciting character and it feels as if you’re going to look forward to any and all opportunities of following her as she charts her own path.
“Angela: Asgard’s Assassin” issue 1 gets four out of five stars. And this fan is looking forward to soon adding a 9.8 CGC slabbed copy of this title alongside Spawn #9. My crush on Angela continues.