Review by Frank Plowright
The Angel Legacy Edition presents all the Angel comic stories in chronological order. Note that for all the prominence of Joss Whedon’s name on the cover, none of his Angel stories are found here. While most of the content over this and Book Two was previously available in the Angel Omnibus. That doesn’t apply to all of it, but unfortunately the content missing from that is the weakest here.
‘The Hollower’ was a testing the waters story set in Sunnydale during the days when Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were still buddies. Christopher Golden introduces a threat from Angel’s past, Angel thinks he’d destroyed it, then remembers by the third chapter that he hadn’t, and Hector Gomez tells the story, but doesn’t have the greatest imagination when it comes to design. It’s the poorest Angel solo tale.
Golden’s writing of the remainder is better, most in collaboration with Tom Sniegoski, rebranded for the credits here as Thomas E. Sniegoski. These stories all occur during Angel Season One, and feature an awkward one minute he’s there and the next he’s gone transition as Doyle departs and Wes arrives. Cordelia is the other major supporting character as she relocates to Los Angeles and helps out with Angel’s paranormal detective agency. While some vampires feature, particularly in ‘Surrogates’, for the most part Angel’s targets (and vice versa) are the demons infesting the city, which take assorted forms, giving the artist some leeway in their designs.
Brian Horton’s demons are good, but of the artists it’s Eric Powell who really shines, after an ordinary start in which too much of his own distinctive style is sacrificed. ‘Hunting Ground’ is largely set in the sewers, giving him more opportunity to work with shadows and darkness, and there’s a nice mood to a story in which Angel is suspected of being a killer while he also has the wrong target in his sights. The other main artist is Christian Zanier, who also makes a weak start. His figurework improves, and his storytelling works, but he’s never keen on making it seem many other people exist in Angel’s world.
Zanier works on the longest story, in which Angel encounters a Catholic priest specialising in exorcisms, helping him with two cases in quick succession, but does he have an agenda of his own? Golden and Sniegoski recognise the value of Father Noe, and it’s rather disappointing that he’s not seen after this first appearance. However, there is a considerable similarity between the opening chapter of ‘Earthly Possessions’ and ‘The Changeling Wife’, the story that preceded it.
The only story without Golden’s involvement is the brief contribution from Angel TV show writer David Fury. It’s a nicely staged piece of grandstanding that reads as if a cut TV scene, and is exquisitely drawn by Ryan Sook.
While this collection has its moments, Book Two is considerably better. The same stories can be found in slimmer paperbacks as The Hollower, Surrogates, Earthly Possessions and as part of Strange Bedfellows.