Welcome to The Pull List, a weekly column where we check out a first issue and tell you whether or not to follow that comic based only on that. Today I’ll be taking a look at the first issue of Angela: Asgard’s Assassin. Is she assassinating Asgard, or is she Asgard’s designated assassin? Let’s find out together!
Angela is a strange character. Originally co-created by Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman for McFarlane’s Spawn comic, Angela saw a return to Marvel comics in 2013 when Gaiman returned to the publisher. I don’t really understand all the legal issues around it, but it does seem strange to me that Angela has suddenly been shoe-horned into a lot of other Marvel comics, and now she appears in her own.
To be fair, I’m not that familiar with Angela’s backstory. Although, the backstory synopsis given to the reader on the recap page for this first issue does not clairfy anything at all. Whoever came up with Angela’s backstory description tried their best to keep it short, but in doing so really just made it harder to follow.
Which is a problem, because once the comic begins, I had no idea what was happening. Angela is running from somebody, and she’s in the plane of existence known as limbo, but why I don’t know and how she got there I don’t know either. At the end, Thor shows up, even though I thought he was a lady now?
It’s all a little confusing to follow, but the biggest problem with the plot is that I’m just not made to care. There’s nothing here to make me empathize with this character or her plight, and I don’t really understand why she’s doing the things she does.
There’s a recurring motif throughout that angels (which I guess Angela is one of?) never take or give, they only bring balance. But what Angela considers “balanced” seems to be kind of arbitrary. There’s an interesting sub-story within the first issue (which has some beautiful artwork) which I actually found to be the most interesting part.
In the sub-story, Angela saves a child’s life, and that child goes on to become a king. Because of her need to balance things out, though, he now owes her a life – his own. She offers him a way out of this debt, though, by trading her friend back to her instead of killing her. The king refuses, and so Angela then kills him and pays the city “blood gold” in order to find a new king.
What? This brings up a whole host of existential questions like what is the value of a life – is saving a child and killing a king really balanced? What if that child had grown up to be a criminal? Isn’t there some merit to what a person does with their life, or is all life considered equally important? All of these questions, though, are swept away with two dialogue boxes, because that’s not the focus of this story.
I will say this much, without giving it away, writer Kieron Gillen at least knows how to end a first issue. Intrigue, enough answers to questions to satiate, but enough questions unanswered to (almost) make me want to come back. In my time doing this column, I’ve seen so many first issues go to far in the questions realm, leaving so many open questions that I don’t even have a sense of what the comic is about, but thankfully that’s not the case here.
I say that it almost makes me want to come back, though, because as much as the ending was done correctly, it doesn’t do enough to make me forget the preceeding 20 pages of confusion. More importantly, I have some of the answers by the end, but I still just don’t really care.