To be clear up front, I have consumed almost no Buffy content in my life, and am only slightly more familiar with Angel. When I would catch Angel reruns, I would get scared and change the channel. Because of this, I don’t have any way to compare this comic to anything preexisting, but as a result, I feel confident in saying that Angel + Spike #14 is an approachable comic that makes me think the whole run will be as well. All you have to do is read the summary on the credits page and this can be your first ever Buffyverse story!
This isn’t to say this comic feels like a new first issue, though. The team of Zac Thompson, Hayden Sherman, Roman Titov, and Ed Dukeshire have made a comic that feels like a next chapter while still being approachable and understandable for a newbie. I hope the “14” on the cover doesn’t turn too many people away, because it’s a place where anyone can start.
As for the contents of the issue, what we’ve got here is a fun comic. It feels like what I imagine Buffy feels like tonally, with quips and jokes landing in-between tears and horror. There are puddles of blood, then there are jokes about poop. The characters feel clever while still being vulnerable. Thompson’s dialogue feels great here, and it feels like he’s having a good time leaning into the pulp aspects of the story. It feels less like a horror story and more like a superhero one in a lot of places too, which somehow makes it pop against other non-Big Two comics. BOOM! is almost secretly building an alternative place to find superhero comics with its line, and Angel + Spike continues that.
What really stands out here is the art, though. Hayden Sherman’s art is insanely detailed, to the point where I want to count all the bricks on the walls that he draws. It’s clearly a ton of work and helps to create some realism in the environment. On the flip side, there’s a really nice contrast in the characters — throughout most of the issue, characters aren’t as detailed as the environments, making them really stand out. They look like they don’t really belong in their environment, which works thematically with some of the ideas in the comic. Along with this, Sherman does some weird, cool stuff that works in this issue, especially where The Baphomet and Fred are concerned.
I do think the coloring could be used to better effect in some places. It feels like there’s an overemphasis on purples and it gives much of the issue a monotonous feeling. I understand the idea is to limit the palette, but it just feels like the color dominates too much of the issue. To be fair, it is pretty looking, and it works with the art really well, but I think some variety could help the issue to pop more than it does in this issue.
As a final point, the action in this comic is wonderful, up there with my favorite action in comics right now. The paneling is hectic but legible, and the solution the characters use is really fun. If the series keeps delivering action like it does here, I think I’ll be along for the ride.
Oh, and the poop joke I mentioned above? One of my favorite final lines in a comic.