The world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has flourished at BOOM! Studios, and soon after Buffy set up residence fans got an equally compelling Angel spinoff series courtesy of writer Bryan Edward Hill and artist Gleb Melnikov. Through the initial 4 issues, we've not only met Angel but also favorites from the show like Fred Burkle and Charles Gunn, not to mention being introduced to a brand new character in Lilith. As the first Buffy Angel crossover event Hellmouth looms, ComicBook.com had a chance to speak with Hill all about the series thus far, what (or who) is on the horizon, and how Angel will factor into Hellmouth and defending Sunnydale.
First up though is Lillith, a brand new addition to the Angel mythos, and she's fascinating on several levels. "I'm really into esoteric thought and history," Hill said. "Looking at the gods that have come before and their place in culture. So, Lilith has always been an interesting case because certain cultures view her as the demon that kills babies. She's darkness personified and all of that. But then there's another reading that Lilith's kind of slander, I suppose, and esoteric thought comes from the fact that she was an independent woman, an independent female power, and that threatened the controlling systems of the day, the power structures, so, she became this villain."
"There's some kinship there between her and Angel, just in terms of what you are versus what your intention is and how you're defined, and how you manifest your desire to become against however you've been perceived by the world. So she seemed like a good, powerful fit into that narrative."
She also perfectly fit Hill goal to make this world feel bigger in scope, something you can do with comics in a number of ways, and Lilith was the perfect character to make that happen.
"One of the visions I have with the narrative was to make it bigger," Hill said. "Take Angel and not have it feel like a television show on paper, but have it feel more epic. Looking at the work of Mike Mignola, and thinking about not just vampires, or just monsters, but also entities, spirits, occultism, these sort of things. Especially inside of Los Angeles, because Los Angeles is a city with a rich occult history. I wanted to explore all those things, so I needed wisdom. I needed a character who was ancient, but also very contemporary and relevant. Because it's me, I also wanted someone who was sexy and Lilith just checked all those boxes. She's been whispering to me for a long time, so I finally put her in the book."
Another important part of Angel's crew is Fred, brought to brilliant life by Amy Acker in the original show. "I always liked Fred, as a character, because she had this huge arc in the show," Hill said. "I think one of the biggest arcs of all of the characters in that series. A lot of it has to do with Amy Acker's performance. She's a brilliant actor with a lot of range and it really kind of stuck with me. I see Fred as somewhat symbolic of the struggle that a lot of young women have to figure out where they belong in society."
"There is some Shakespeare in that we find her in an insane asylum," Hill said. "She is the ilia that's already been sent to the nunnery, in a way, when she shows up. To have Lilith point Angel in the direction of her speaks to Lilith's desire to make sure women, especially, who have been oppressed somewhat by society or are struggling with their own power, that they receive assistance and protection as they realize their own power."
Fred isn't just any ordinary ally to Angel in the series but is the key to the world of magic for Angel and company as well, something that will be incredibly important later in the series.
"Fred is also on the wavelength of magic in that world," Hill said. "That's going to become a very important thing going forward. If you look at magical tradition, women are oftentimes the most powerful in terms of magic use, and sorcery, and those sorts of things. Fred kind of represents that stuff. I've been somewhat opaque about her background and her history, and how she arrived in the place that we see her. I'm not going to dole it out all at one time. We're going to go forward and we're going to learn these things as we go along."
"We'll see, even between Gunn and Angel and all this, I have this kind of almost Tolkien-esque group of archetypes that we're working with," Hill said. "Lilith is our Donna Karan, eternal, mentor, Gandalf type archetype. Kind of filtered through a lot of Los Angeles style and swagger. Gunn is very much a tank warrior sort of type. Fred is the sorceress in training, I suppose. So, these sorts of archetypes are important. I try to make sure everything I work on has the fingerprints of mythology on it, because I'm so into mythology. That determines where I'm going to go with those things. But Fred has some very, very important issues coming up as we move forward."
Next up on team Angel is Charles Gunn, who has seen the worst of things and yet still hasn't given in to a complete hatred or even cynical world view.
"I identify with him because he's a guy that, unfortunately, has been baptized by blood into the truth of the world, into the truth of the universe," Hill said. "He's dealing with the second world that lives underneath the first, and he's dealing with that alone until he finds out that he's not alone in his quest. He's at a really interesting precipice because he's a person that could be motivated by anger and hatred and vengeance, and Angel understands where that leads and it's not a good place."
"To have a person who has been personally wounded and traumatized by vampires, who is befriended and mentored by a vampire, that's a really interesting dynamic to play," Hill said. "Again, speaking about actors, J. August Richards is such a good actor, that I wanted to build him with those dimensions. Because it's a comic book, I go a little faster than the series might have gone, in terms of bringing in aspects of these characters and revealing their dimensionality, and you can in a comic because it's the speed of the narrative."
Angel #5 kicks off the Hellmouth prelude, an epic crossover between Angel & Buffy, and Hill couldn't be more excited at the possibilities something like this brings into a series.
"It's always exciting when you have these big events, because big events can change characters and they can change narrative world," Hill said. "We writers, we love to build things, but even more, we love to hit them with a hammer. So, any time you can be part of that, that's really great. I mean, for me, what I'm most excited about is seeing how Angel's experience in that kind of byzantine adventure, is going to alter him and put him in touch with a lot of his ancient desires and motivations, and how that affects him going forward."0comments
"In a lot of ways he's been able to kind of pretend he can fight this war on his own terms," Hill said. "The Hellmouth experience will certainly show him that that's likely not possible, not to mention what happens when he's in proximity with Buffy Summers. All of those things are great, fertile soil for powerful storytelling going forward. I'm always excited about the events that leave scars on characters. Because writing about the aftermath of those scars is some of the most fun you can have in the business."
Angel #5 acts as the prelude to Hellmouth, and that hits comic stores on September 25th.