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SYFY WIRE Buffy the Vampire Slayer

First Look: Buffy's Angel resurrected in surprise comic spinoff from Boom! and Bryan Hill

By Jeff Spry
Angel Slice

Everybody loves surprises, especially when they manifest themselves out of Joss Whedon's cult horror sensation, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. So how about a fan favorite landing his own spinoff?

With intentions on making comic book history, Boom! Studios is reviving the charismatic vampire with a soul by releasing Angel #0, an unannounced spinoff series arriving Apr. 17, the same day as the pivotal Buffy The Vampire Slayer #4 bites into the market with its shocking final pages.

SYFY WIRE is able to reveal the first peek at the introductory issue alongside some insights with its acclaimed writer Bryan Edward Hill and series editor Jeanine Schaefer on the eve of the publisher's first-ever surprise series drop.

Angel Cover

Penned by the Hill (Batman, American Carnage) with art from Gleb Melnikov (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers), then accented with creative input from writer/director Joss Whedon, this is the first Angel release following Boom!'s recent acquisition of the comic book and graphic novel licensing rights to expand the mythology created in TV, novels, and beyond.

Buffy 4 Cover

The storyline dovetails off the final panels of Buffy The Vampire Slayer #4 and overlaps a tragic scene of horrific proportions. Angel is the cursed vampire who's spent centuries protecting Mankind from all manner of creatures that lurk in the shadows. Searching for redemption for the atrocities committed by the evil monster he was when he was first turned, Angel accidentally stumbles upon a new demonic uprising and a disturbing truth: The restoration of his own humanity can only come if he snuffs out one more life: a certain Slayer from Sunnydale whom he’s never met…but might just be his most formidable enemy.

Comic books are normally solicited to retailers months in advance, but the clandestine existence of Angel #0 was kept a guarded secret by Boom! to create an unexpected Apr. 17th drop exclusive to local comic shops. The initial printing will be shipped in equal quantities beside the highly-anticipated Buffy The Vampire Slayer #4, which heralds the first appearance of the popular vampire with a soul.

Angel Cover 2

Actor David Boreanaz inhabited the role of Angel in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, then went solo for the Angel spinoff (1999-2004).

SYFY WIRE chatted with Hill and Schaefer on this surprise offering and learned what fans can expect as Angel arises in his new monthly series beginning in May.

How did this Angel spinoff originate and what grabbed you about the character?

BRYAN EDWARD HILL: The process started when Jeanine was so kind to reach out to me and I was very excited to talk to her about it.  I was honestly more of an Angel guy than a Buffy guy and dug the whole "man out of time" aspect but never really thought I'd end up writing it. So I told her, 'Sure, I have a lot of ideas for this!'

What was it about your associations with the Buffyverse that got you psyched about doing a spinoff?

JEANINE SCHAEFER: I was excited about the entire universe, the idea that we were remixing it and finding new ways in for new readers and new takes on the characters for loyal fans. I get so jealous whenever I hear that someone's not seen Buffy and get to experience it. I've been a fan of Bryan's and wanted to try and find something to work with him on and this felt like a really good fit. I had no idea that he was such an Angel fan and our first conversation was spot-on.

Buffy and Angel

What were you going for in Issue #0 and what tone were you trying to summon?

BEH: Those choices come from the fact that I've worked in a lot of different forms:  I'm a screenwriter, a television writer, I'm a comic author. The budgetary restrictions when you're making a screenplay or a television show, you don't have those in a comic book. I remember when I was a kid and read an adaptation of something or the comic based on a television show or movie I'd seen, the best of them were able to paint on a broader canvas and took advantage of the unique form that is comics. 

So I ask, 'What can I bring to Angel that is unique.' I'm interested in exploring the scope of his past and the almost Mike Mignola qualities of that stuff, in contrast with his existence in suburbia and how those two things interrelate and live inside the same guy. It's the constant battle of forces inside of him. He's a creature of epic origins making his way in a contemporary environment and using the full breadth of that canvas seemed the way to go.

Can you name horror movies and vampire tales you drew from for Angel?

BEH: I was a huge fan of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Everything about that film: Coppola's direction, Oldman's performance, the makeup, costume design, and that grand, operatic feel. But it also had a beating heart and it's a movie full of passion and love.  When you think about vampires you have to think about the sanguine energy of them. That sort of energy is what I wanted to capture. There are elements of Nosferatu that I'm a big fan of, and Frank Langella's portrayal of Dracula in the '70s. There's something phenomenal about his performance that humanizes the character. But I also think about Wes Craven movies and John Hughes. Highlander is something I think about too.

Bram Stoker's Dracula

How did the collaboration with artist Gleb Melnikov for Issue #0 unfold?

BEH: I tend to write very minimal and give artists as much room as I can to interpret.  When I started seeing the art that came back it spoke to my sensibilities. I was into the power that comes from the deceptive simplicity of his art. It's hard to do that and especially to maintain the iconography of the character. It's fantastic and I was elated to see all that stuff visually realized. The best part about writing comics is when you get the art in your email!

How was Joss Whedon involved with this new Angel project and what were his suggestions or influences?

JS: Same as with Buffy, he saw our initial pitch and gave us the green light to reinterpret and reimagine and we were off to the races. Bryan's pitch was really fleshed out on both the plot and the emotional level and we're getting the legroom to do some cool stuff with Joss' blessing.

Angel TV Series

Why does the character of Angel endure and what did David Boreanaz bring to the role to make it iconic?

BEH: What David has as an actor is an ability to get you to trust him as a character despite the actions or history he might have. You believe in his desire to do good.  Which also makes it horrifying when he's playing a character doing evil. David brought that in spades when he appeared on Buffy and when he got his own series. There was so much to explore. TV is about inviting somebody into your life, into your home. What speaks to people is his desire to redeem himself.

And we can all relate to that, especially now in a time when we're over-chronicled and every mistake we've made is there forever on the internet. It's easy for people, especially young people, to feel trapped by their past. That's an enduring aspect of life and almost more relevant now than it was when the character of Angel first appeared in popular culture.