Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sorry for the delay... ANGEL: BLOOD & TRENCHES #2!

What Is It?: Angel: Blood & Trenches #2 (written and illustrated by John Byrne).

Timing: Directly after Angel: Blood & Trenches #1.

REVIEW: Really sorry for the delay. I've been crazy busy, and if you want to see why, check out my other blog about my writing life. It's grind time at college as well, but I've managed to squeeze review time between waking up and the Lambda Iota Tau induction ceremony this evening. I promise I'll be back to regular Wednesday reviews this week with the release of Angel #20, and I'll try to squeeze in a review of Angel: Smile Time #3 between now and then.

But as for now, onto Blood & Trenches #2!

John Byrne's Angel/WWI epic continues with another great issue. Though the story definitely progresses, don't expect any major changes; if you liked the first issue, this satisfies in the same way. The art is done in the same style (just straight pencils, no inks, and the only color used is for SFX and blood), and it works wonderfully with Byrne's first person narration. I felt like I was reading a wonderful old war novel while I poured over these pages, but the spirit of Angel is still very much there. Though he's not yet the vampire we've come to know and love, that's kind of the point. This is Angel before he's gone through everything that shaped his personality, and he's still in a very dark and impressionable place... which is why I really don't get when people say his voice is off. This is Angel fresh out of being Angelus, robbed of every defining characteristic he had. And plus, this takes place a long time ago. It makes perfect sense that Angel doesn't speak like 2009 Angel does.

This issue pushes the story in an interesting new direction. While #1 did have a decent amount of supernatural elements, it was a lot more about Angel interacting with humans, both good and evil. This took things down an entirely different route, and explores the role that vampires played in the war at large. I'm still not sure why Angel was so invested in checking out what's going on that he actually stowed away on a boat to get where he is, but I'm perfectly fine with that. The mystery gets a lot more interesting when a new/old player is thrown into the mix. If you thought the Geoffrey Wyndam-Pryce reveal was crazy, wait until you see (SPOILER:) Kakistos bearing down on Angel.

Angel: Blood & Trenches was the best Buffyverse title of March, and so far it's true for April as well. I wasn't quite as blown away by this one as I was with the first issue, but I think that's sort of because the unique presentation of the story was really impressive and shocking when I first read the issue. This issue has less opportunity to play with format and time than the first issue did, but the way story itself continues is just great. I can't wait until this is published as a TPB or a hardcover, because I can just tell it would be fantastic to read this in one sitting.

Covers: I've seen all of the covers for this series online, and this is probably the least impressive. It's dynamic and all, with the bullets crossing behind Angel and the smoke rising off of his back, but I just found the colors sort of odd. I get that Angel is supposed to be burning in the sun, but it's not really how I would have pictured it. I wouldn't be as picky if the colors used on the covers of #1 and #3 weren't so exceptional. It's not a bad cover, but not especially good either. The variant cover is a black and white version of the normal cover.

Characters We Know: Angel and (SPOILER:) Kakistos.

Rating: 8/10

1 comment:

Magenta Jack said...

Good review. Nail. Head.