This week brings us another weird, witty, flame-colored issue of Angela: Queen of Hel. After fighting her way through half the underworld, Angela is reunited with her true love Sera.
It turns out that the “Sera” that Angela knew throughout the Angela: Asgard’s Assassin run was actually Malekith… but then it turns out that Sera was telling Malekith exactly what to do and say the entire time. So Sera both was Sera and wasn’t Sera, but also really was Sera the whole time. I told you this book was weird.
At first, Sera is angry that Angela left her in the dark of Hel. She throws a few perfunctory magic lightning bolts at Angela–but then they forgive each other almost instantly. Lightning bolts aside, “forgiveness” seems lie a moot point anyway. Angela (mostly) lives according to the Hevenly principle of perfect restitution, but this is a situation where concepts like forgiveness, revenge, and apologies are pretty meaningless. How do you repay someone for leaving them in Hel(l)? Are you responsible for breaking a promise if you didn’t know you broke it?
Anyway, since Sera is dead, Angela can’t really “bring her back”–unless she conquers Hel and rewrites all its rules.
So, obviously, Angela’s going to conquer Hel.
While Sera provides some uncanny exposition, Angela spends the next twelve pages cutting through an army of guards and monsters. Like an epic hero, she sets out to prove herself through a series of three trials. Like a total BAMF, she faces her worst fears only to discover that she doesn’t really have any.
Kim Jacinto and Israel Silva’s action panels look even better than issue #1. Jacinto composes pages with amazing kinetic energy; Silva’s colors highlight and direct the action. Fiery orange flashes of light cut across panels and through dark shadows; bright white energy pours out of Sera’s eyes and clawed hands like liquid electricity. The action occasionally freezes against a monochromatic background, pausing as Angela and Sera stare into each other’s eyes in the midst of battle, or cutting abruptly into black and red silhouettes as something particularly awesomely violent happens.
There’s another insanely beautiful interlude drawn by Stephanie Hans–a red and white flashback/nightmare/fantasy about Angela’s deepest fears and fondest memories. After facing those fears, Angela gets another new iconic outfit, because apparently it’s just not an Angela run without a costume change.
Overall, there’s a strangely circular feeling to this story. Maybe it’s the way that, throughout their history, Angela and Sera have been doomed to lose and find each other, again and again and again. Or maybe it’s the way that most of the dialogue in this issue is Sera re-telling the history of their relationship and foretelling what’s to come. And there’s also the fact that this story is non-linear. The ending’s right there in the title: Angela is going to conquer Hel. Each issue starts with her and Sera lounging on Hel’s throne while Sera cracks wise about stuff like Malekith and Alanis Morrisette.
But maybe that strange circular feeling is also just this story’s unashamedly mythic scale. (Angela’s doing a hero’s trials, and Sera explicitly points out that they’re doing “a little Orpheus and Eurydice.”) As a protagonist, Angela’s one of a kind: literally fearless, consummately alien, maybe infinitely powerful. She can tear through the cosmos and usurp gods through sheer power of will. And in Sera, we have an equally unique narrator: one who sees through the veil of reality and fiction, who–as Angela puts it–seems to know everything, even when she can’t possibly know it.
Together, this pair represents limitless potential–an almost surreal amount of narrative possibility. Marguerite Bennett is writing a very weird, very ambitious kind of love story.
A love story where nothing can keep the lovers apart? That’s a cliché. But Angela : Queen of Hel is that cliché taken to its extreme. These particular lovers are a warrior who rips apart reality and a narrator who ignores and/or exploits the narrative “rules,” rewriting her story any way she wants.
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Drawn by Kim Jacinto and Stephanie Hans, with colors by Israel Silva
Letters by Clayton Cowles
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Mad Moll Green writes in Los Angeles and Vancouver. She loves horror movies, comic books, and ironic spandex.