Angel: The Curse
by Jeff Mariotte, David Messina (IDW, 2006)

Angel never impressed me as much as Buffy did.

For one thing, the hulking vampire-with-a-soul lacks the obvious assets of a young, blond, former cheerleader. For another, he broods too damn much.

In The Curse, Angel's first collected tale under the IDW banner (Dark Horse representatives have already bemoaned the mistake of giving up the rights to the title, especially now that the new run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is doing so well), our brooking, hulking hero is off in Romania seeking the descendants of the gypsies who cursed him with a soul. He wants them to turn off the switch that reverts him to bloodthirsty mode if he achieves perfect happiness, a condition that manifested itself only once before, when he made the big happy with Buffy, turned evil and started killing people -- including the very gypsies who thought a turn-off switch on his curse would be a good idea.

Now that Angel is dating Nina, a lovely blond werewolf (apparently their relationship survived the uncomfortable closure shown as Angel's TV series drew to an end), he wants to be sure that doesn't happen again. Getting on the gypsies' good side means getting involved in a coup against a ruthless despot who (you might see this one coming) has an army of vampires in his employ. And, of course, it turns out only one of the gypsies has the ability to alter Angel's curse....

Although IDW's take on Spike in his own series of books has been pretty impressive, Angel falls short. The art matches the tone -- gloomy, brooding, bleak -- and sometimes you just want Angel to get over himself for a few minutes. The story also lacks the ensemble feel that made the TV series a success; Angel doesn't do nearly so well on his own, in part because it was his merry band of sidekicks who provided the humor and the human perspective.

I'm sure this isn't the last we'll see of Angel. Let's hope he pulls himself together in time for the next story.

review by
Tom Knapp

5 January 2008

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