Something that’s always stood out to me about the style, the marketing, and the story consistency of Marvel’s Angela: Queen of Hel is how distinctly it reminds me of Thor in the early 90’s. An array of blood, fire, and rippling muscles tends to grace every cover (the only thing missing is the distinct Steel Panther fashion sense) and there’s always a gruesome battle that rages from issue to issue, until it turns into a completely different battle. What greatly separates Angela from these fond-isa memories) is the way it flips every other trope about 90’s superhero comics on it’s head.
We find our bloodthirsty Hunter Queen as she and her girlfriend, the sorceress and ex-anchorite Sera, are battling it out with Angela’s “brothers” as the lovers continue their quest to defeat the merciless Queen Hela, who had previously imprisoned Sera (and a whole bunch of dead Angels). Despite working up an army of dead angels to take on Hela, the queen is rather popular amongst her other followers, and it’s going to take everything Angela has to defeat her.
I love a good romance, but I’m highly judgmental when it comes to what I “ship”. While it’s taken four issues to really get used to the pace of the primary relationship, I have to say that every quip and grin between Angela and Sera is an entertaining nod to what a strong relationship can be. The two work together seamlessly, with Sera bringing Angela down to Earth (in a sense) more than once, and Angela finding her strength in her partner. Droplets of classic comic romance mark their conversations and even the way they’re drawn — not unlike Jean Grey leaning into Wolverine’s chest for a passionate embrace, Angela towers over Sera (who is pretty tall, herself), but it is our hero Angela who is ultimately more dependent on Sera’s existence, as the end of the issue reveals in a series of beautifully drawn spreads.
Angela’s no sucker, but that show of vulnerability (ultimately, Sera being in Angela’s life keeps Angela from becoming a bloodthirsty murder queen… she murders good people, too!) does not bring the Hunter Queen down. In fact, it strengthens the bond that the two have, and gives them the courage to face Hela as she rises from the darkness at the tail end of the issue.
As ever, readers who aren’t engaged with the lore behind the Asgardian royal family and it’s connections might get a little lost with the language — not because it’s not hard to understand, but because it paces between a modern-day editorial voice to Angela’s classic battle speeches. It’s a little weird, and while funny, some of it took me out of the story, but I’m pretty sure that is just because it’s been a while since I’ve picked up a comic like this one.
With fantastic ancient humor made relatable to anyone who uses the internet, Angela continues to be a different kind of hero’s journey, with just the right mix of romance, wit, action, and bloodshed to keep anyone entertained.