Angel: Long Night's Journey
Distributed By: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
I have mentioned before that there was a time where the only intelligent conversation I could have with people involved either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel. That time having passed, it left such a residual effect on me that when I’m bored, I still whip out their DVD’s and when I’m at a comic or book store, I still look to see what the latest offering of those venues may be. In recently doing this, I stumbled upon the graphic novel, Angel: Long Night’s Journey.
I was immediately confused when I saw the title. There was a Season 4 episode of the television series, Angel, by the name of “Long Day’s Journey,” which doesn’t even closely resemble the story in this graphic novel, and with series creator Joss Whedon as co-writer of this mini-series, that fact seems like a tremendous oversight. But despite that small bit of pickiness on my behalf, I opened this graphic novel and read it with an open mind—and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.
Angel: Long Night’s Journey begins with Angel, the vampire-with-a-soul turned detective, out on the streets in search of a young boy who has gone missing. Though he finds the boy and returns him safely to his home, he is attacked by three impossibly strong demons, all of which shout out that he is a traitor. Noticing a pattern (who wouldn’t?) Angel takes a few artifacts left behind by these demons home for careful scrutiny by his research team. This research team includes the perky ex-cheerleader-turned “Vision Girl” Cordelia Chase, ex-watcher Wesley Wyndham-Price and vampire hunter Charles Gunn. What they discover immediately reminds Angel of a moment in his past and sets him off in search of a vampire who had wiped the floor with him long ago and who has returned for more.
There were some interesting things about this story. A lot of the character interaction was dead on. Angel was written beautifully when he was sheepish and silly. The research team was true magic. However, Angel may have been too quippy. It was one thing for him to say one-liners when in battle—he uses that to intimidate—or even in conversation with his team, but anybody who has ever watched the series would find it unacceptable for a character as brooding and perpetually pissed as Angel to use the phrase “making me go crunch” in his thoughts. It’s just not proper characterization.
The story of this graphic novel raises intriguing questions. Sure, it is common knowledge that Angel is a vampire with a soul, but is the soul he has really his? And were the gypsies that cursed him inspired by his change enough that they have made this a method for creating champions? While both ideas are interesting, they are questions that aren’t put to attention until the last installment of the mini-series and this was not enough time to cover such mysteries.
Another complaint—it’s nice, when you know exactly what the characters look like as humans, to have their comic book representations come somewhat close. Dark Horse series tend to have stark drawings and lines that make everyone look as though they are either muscle bound or anorexic. The colors are dull and the pictures rarely jump out of the page. I’ve seen fan boys create closer likenesses.
All in all, Long Night’s Journey is not a bad effort if read simply to pass some time between Buffy and Angel inspired fun. But, if you are a passionate fan of the series or feel as though ink makes a comic book, this might not be the one for you. Honestly, for something co-written by the amazing Joss Whedon, I expected more.