Dark Horse’s first run of Angel comics attempted to tie in with the then concurrent opening season of the Angel TV show, but a mixture of weekly screenings with monthly comics was never going gel smoothly, and so it proved. This takes a different approach, show writers Brett Matthews and Josh Whedon writing a story that features the cast, by now including Charles Gunn, but without having to tie into TV continuity.

Matthews and Whedon layer their threat, first pitting Angel against lackeys who’re powerful enough, but all under the control of someone who’s even more of a threat, and builds them up well. As might be expected from writers used to the needs of TV, there’s far more action found in Long Night’s Journey than in the earlier stories, which plays to artist Mel Rubi’s strengths. It’s difficult to know how much has been choreographed by the writers, but Rubi’s pages are lively and thrilling and he has a fine way with a heroic pose. He goes for approximations of the cast overall, while making the effort for close-ups, designs convincing threats, and fills the backgrounds, at last making it seem as if Angel and his buddies occupy a real world.

When Angel and friends come up against a group of new foes, they look interesting and are convincing, and the motivation for their organiser is well planned also. He’s dealt with Angel in the past, yet seeks knowledge above revenge.

If you only want one graphic novel from the early Angel era, this is the one to go for. It’s well drawn, written by the show’s creators, moves with the pace of bullet train, includes some neat twists and has a satisfying ending. Matthews and Whedon even make sure it’s a story of real consequence via a new revelation about how Angel become the person he now is. Alternatively, it’s collected in the Angel Omnibus, and the second Angel Legacy Edition.