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Comic Review: Angel Annual #1 by Brian Lynch and Stephen Mooney

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One of the best parts of the show Angel was that it had a sense of humor about itself. Joss Whedon and his writers had no problem teasing the characters or making fun of the fantasy aspects of the show. The Angel Annual #1 continues this trend by joking about Hollywood, the Hell in Los Angeles storyline in the comic series, and about everyone's favorite vampire with a cursed soul himself.

The Annual is titled "Last Angel in Hell," and it is about a screenwriter deciding to write a move script based on Angel and his companions. The screenwriter only caught a few glimpses of the humble vampire during the time that Los Angeles went to Hell, but it was enough to piece together a story that Hollywood would love. This parody teases all the big blockbusters that come out with action but nonsensical stories and cliche twists.

Angel Cartwright is a police detective who loses his partner Wesley to a vampire attack. He barely makes it out and mourns his friend, and the story jumps to his wedding. Sarah is his lovely bride to be, and she reveals she let vampires into the church and now everyone is dead. She's been turned into a vampire herself. Angel tries to fight off the vamps and Sarah goes with them, being nicknamed "Spike" for some unknown reason. And she's apparently British and wicked now. (Already laughing? It gets better!)

So Angel wanders through a demon-infested Los Angeles now with only a dog as his companion (a wink to I Am Legend), and he goes to the Doublemeat Plaza for food. There's a funny in-character dig there, poking fun at movies that purposely market for big companies to get money for filming. He decides to fight back against the demons and refuse to let them win, which leads Lorne, as a demon boss, to taunt him that it's all his fault. . . for some reason. Perhaps because he couldn't fight the demons at his wedding? It's not supposed to make sense.

Gunn and Fred show up. Gunn is a big guy with one eye who can apparently turn into a dragon, and Fred is a black woman in skin-tight suits who shoots lightning out of her fingers because of her I.L.L.Y.R.I.A suit. Hee. They offer to let Angel join with them, but he decides to take on the devil alone and abruptly hooks up with a demon woman. What? Oh James Bond randomness. Spike/Sarah beats him up and throws him out. He decides he can't do this alone.

In an epic last battle with the team, everyone bands together; Spike turns sides; and the world is safe once again. This is a hilarious story, and any Angel fan will crack up from the changes to the characters. This really does seem like something a Hollywood company would think to green light, and because of that it completely works. It also connects with the regular series because Angel is well known in LA now and famed for saving them from Hell. So, of course, it was only inevitable a movie would be made about him that would be grossly inaccurate! It gives readers an idea of how the common folk in the comic look at the hero now that he's in the open and also lets the audience snicker at the ridiculousness of the story and dialogue. The art is great — and doesn't Nicholas Cage look like a great Angel wannabe? Ha! There are also Angel cereal solicitations that will crack the readers up.

The Angel Annual #1 is on sale December 23rd, so fans keep an eye out. This is worth getting; it's laugh out loud funny in several places.

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