And there came a day, a day unlike any other, where Andrew said he’d review all the new titles with the Avengers Now logo and now regrets he ever said that. I mean, come on, he’s missed a few already. Why doesn’t he just give up? Well, he’s stubborn……so here goes. This week saw the release of Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1. I’m not actually following the main Avengers titles at the moment so I’m not even sure if Angela has even joined the Avengers yet. But that’s neither here nor there as the book sports a high profile creative team and boasts a story that will make a difference in the nine realms…..at least that’s the intent. Regardless of it’s importance in the grand scheme of things, no one can deny that the book does sport some pretty pictures.
Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1
Written by Kieron Gillen (with Marguerite Bennett)
Art by Phil Jimenez & Stephanie Hans
For those that don’t know, Angela is a character created by Neil Gaiman who’s recently been added into the Marvel Universe. Even more recently, it’s been revealed that she’s the long lost sister of Thor and Loki who was raised by the Angels of Heven without any knowledge of her Asgardian heritage. This new information has forced her to be ousted from Heven. The kicker is that she doesn’t want anything to do with Asgard, so she’s kind of on the run.
Our story begins with Angela arriving in Limbo with a baby in hand. She’s looking for a friend, fellow angel Sera. But she doesn’t arrive alone as she’s been followed by a team on horseback who look like they can start some shit. They don’t really get the chance to start much of anything as Angela makes short work of them. She looks pissed. One of the inhabitants of Limbo finds her anger odd. Sera then explains how the fact she was followed at all is a loss in her mind. She follows this up with a story that reveals how she and Angela became so tight. And just as soon as it’s done, another group has shown up that would would have words with Angela – The Horde of Asgard. The former Thor and his crew (Sif, the Warriors Three and others) have got a beef and it’s something to do with that baby that Angela showed up with.
Okay, so a LOT of stuff is going on here. There’s a backstory that explains how angels think. If you didn’t know, they don’t just give people stuff but instead work on a bartering system. You want something from an Angel, you have to give something in return. That thought process is made abundantly clear in the flashback tale that takes place in the middle of the book. Then there’s the whole “Stealing a baby from Asgard” thing. Angela don’t like that she’s connected to Old One Eye and his lot, so she’s starting shit with them. Ideas are being presented and characters are revealed.
What’s interesting is the way it’s revealed. The book follows a basic narrative structure but Kieron Gillen holds onto certain bits of info and throws them out when he thinks they’ll get the biggest rise out his readers. He shows a great faith in his audience as he’s willing to let them dangle for awhile without adressing something that’s staring them in the face. What it also does is keep the reader’s focus busy so he can make a rather mundane tale appear interesting. The character of Angela is an interesting and mysterious one yet when you break down what she said and did in this first issue, there wasn’t much to her. She was just a grump for most of the story. That’s it. I cannot deny the fact that I was entertained. But I also know that once the dust settled, I didn’t really care. There wasn’t anything here that made me want to come back for more…..except maybe the artwork.
The issue has some great visuals provided by some very talented artists. Phil Jimenez is a master of composition. What he does in the issue isn’t anything breakthrough but what it is is breathtaking. Jimenez knows how to lay out a page in a way that will make you go where he needs you to go. Your eye is drawn to the right places in the right order. He switches up the layout contstantly, creating a visually stimulating read. Add to this is his attention to detail….that’s not TOO detailed. He doesn’t overcook it. He also does a great job of giving a feel for Angela’s power. Even in the panels where she’s standing still, there’s still a commanding presence emanating off the page. And even though her style is obviously different, Jimenez’s art flows seemlessly into Stephanie Hans’ work on the flashback tale.
Stephenie Hans’ illustrations have the ability to evoke the feeling of folklore. Her painted style presents us with a window into a great, epic story. You immediately know the importance of the story (to Sera, at least) just from the colours and use of shadow. She also presents Angela as a commanding presence but does so in a more fluid and almost graceful manner. She is probably the MVP of the issue as she takes the slowest beat of the story and makes it feel most important.
While the artwork was amazing and the plot reveals were well crafted, I can’t really see myself coming back for issue two of this title. Angela is a compelling character that I feel was not serviced by the writing we saw here. Kieron Gillen is a skilled writer but his work is more slight of hand than actual substance. The series may improve but I don’t really feel the need to stick around and find out. Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!