GOLDEN, Christopher & Tom Sniegoski. Angel: Hunting Ground. 80p. DARK HORSE COMICS, August 2001. ISBN: 1569715475
Picking up where my last Vintage post on Angel left off, "Hunting Ground" is the next book is the rough sequence that Dark Horse published when it bound copies of the first monthly series. As a fun treat, there's a story here that was originally published in Dark Horse Presents #155. Meaning it wasn't in the original monthly series, so I didn't read it when it came out. Actually, re-reading the story... I'm not sure I actually ever read the Dark Horse Presents story. So it's a true vintage post, since I discovered something new from something old. Pretty much the best thing you can hope for when you are reading old trade paperbacks. So I'll break down the story in two parts; first, we get the aforementioned story I may or may not have read but definitely do not remember. We will also get the story proper, which concerns what I believe is Wesley's introduction into the comics and a fun story involving Angel being framed for murder.
The first story focuses on Cordelia. She reads a script, lands the lead role, and believes it's finally her big break. Quitting Angel's office, she wholeheartedly throws herself into the plot. Basically, the story is a Blair Witch knockoff. Two guys with a handheld camera are filming Cordelia acting scared. Angel remains at the office, answering phone calls about crazy cases that are probably not very supernatural. Bored, he reads Cordelia's script... and realizes something is off. Investigating, he realizes that "the producers" - who are in fact demons - have actually hired Cordelia and the makeshift film crew to find a magical hat that can command demons. But it's protected, and the demonic nature spirits who want to keep out the intruders target Cordelia. Angel arrives just in time to save her, but will the be able to stop the demons from getting that hat? I forget what the hat is called, but it's corny.
The second story (with a different artist) begins with the late, the great Kate Lockley. Called out for another murder victim (I think at this point, there's been two or three) she starts to discern a pattern. The killer is coming from the sewers... hey! Doesn't Angel use the sewers? He's a vampire, so he obviously did it! She forget that, ya know, the victims would be drained of blood and stuff. Actually, Kate would probably do that late in the first season. She did love playing "jump to conclusions." Anyway, Wesley is in this one (I think his first comics appearance- they don't make a big deal, he's just in the story) and he assists Angel in tracking down the killer. The fun part is, Angel and Wesley also blame the wrong guy- a kindhearted, rat-eating demon named Abner. Despite looking like a big, lumpy caveman he also has this cool thing where he can make spikes grow out of his back. Anyway, wackiness ensues as everyone blames the wrong person.
Brian Horton drew the Dark Horse Presents story, who is the artist I talked about in my last Vintage Buffy post. I had no idea he did this, too. So... awesome. Paul Lee did the pencils for the Abner story. Christopher Golden and his sometimes co-writer Tom Sniegoski wrote the stories. Giving credit where credit is due in this case is kind of hard, because these trades are really just reprints of the stories without a lot of extra stuff. Scott Allie takes about working with Brian Horton in little editorial note in the middle (actually, it's like 3 pages... so not really a "note") so I guess he really like Brian Horton's work. I have to agree. It rocks, maybe even moreso with some of the cover designs he did for this one. The give us some stuff that wasn't used. And it's da bomb dot com. I really hope they do an "Angel Omnibus" edition with this, the Buffy "Hollower" Angel stories, and with Joss Whedon's 4-part Angel miniseries. All of that stuff was good, which makes me sad for the crap that IDW is putting it out now (unless it's by Lobdell or Byrne). Anyway, it is worth reading if you find it.