Since Throwback Thursday has become a popular thing all over the interwebs, I thought I’d take a trip through my longboxes and come up with a Throwback Thursday offering of my own. This week, after suffering the slings and arrows of Marvel’s retconned Angela, I decided it was time to look back fondly, when Angela was written by Neil Gaiman and was an absolute badass from Heaven.
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.
Spawn #9 is gorgeously drawn – it’s a Todd McFarlane piece, of course it’s gorgeous. Angela is fierce – she’s all swords and spears, sharp edges and ribbons, and she’s a hunter, menacing and smart. We get some background in the issue’s beginning, where she lures a Medieval Spawn to his doom by posing as a damsel in distress. She’s been at this for a long time, and she knows that you have to kill the Hellspawn while they’re young and still inexperienced.
Angela’s spear becomes a central plot point in the Angela 3-issue mini-series (1994-1995), written by Gaiman and drawn by Greg Capullo. Angela’s she’s set up by an angel with a grudge, accused of treason, and stripped of her status. Her friends head to earth to grab Al and bring him to Elysium, home of the angels, and sneak him into Angela’s trial to stand as a witness. Naturally, his cape flips out at being in such hostile territory; he’s revealed as a Hellspawn, and he and Angela need to get out of Dodge. They end up in one of the castles of Hell and work their way back aboveground. Angela clears her name, the guilty are punished, and she decides to go freelance. Everyone’s happy, except for Al, but that’s kind of the whole point of Spawn, isn’t it?
What made Angela’s appearances amazing in the early Spawn issues and her mini-series is the fact that Neil Gaiman wrote her, and both McFarlane and Capullo gave her life. She had a definite origin, she had a definite look, and she developed a fanboy and fangirl following right away, even earning a cameo in the oft-maligned (but really not that bad) 1997 Spawn movie.
So when Marvel announced that Neil Gaiman was bringing Angela to Marvel after winning a lawsuit regarding her ownership, I was cautiously excited. I worried about Marvel getting their hands on her, but I was excited to see Gaiman’s name linked with her. I hoped for the best. Hope started fading when Neil was downgraded to “consultant”, but I held on.
Thus followed the lamest re-appearance and retconning of a character known to man (okay, maybe second to Jean Grey’s having Phoenix be one of her multiple personalities in the abominable X-Men 3 movie). She’s not an angel, she just thinks she is. She’s from a planet called Heven. Maybe. She doesn’t talk much, she just shows around the Guardians of the Galaxy, pulled through some sort of space-time rip thanks to the Age of Ultron. What I’m trying to say here is, it’s just a disappointment. So I’m going to sit back, read all my Angela appearances and spin-offs (Glory/Angela, anyone?) from the ’90s, and remember when.
Enjoy some vintage Angela with me, won’t you?