February 27, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #438: Angela

Angela: a character where the behind-the-scenes drama is perhaps more interesting than anything the character has actually done.

Some weeks, I look all over the internet to find a character to cover for this weekly column.  Sometimes it works out where I am doing a small series and the next one just pops up, like all the recent entries related to the MCU version of the Guardians of the Galaxy.  And sometimes, Jimmy just asks me if I had done a column yet on Angela.

You know, I think Jimmy knows someone named Angela.  I hope I am covering the right one.  This one is the rare one to jump companies.

See, Angela has been part of two comics universes.  Her first appearance was in Spawn #9 in March of 1993.  Spawn creator Todd McFarlane had been writing and drawing that book at the time, and…you know, at some point McFarlane stopped drawing the character and just became the series writer, so I kinda wonder about that, but Spawn was always a little too much for me and I can’t say I was the biggest fan out there.  Anyway, McFarlane decided to do this thing where he brought on big name writers to each pen one issue of Spawn for him to draw, saying something about how these issues would see about maybe getting more work from these guys.  Anyway, Alan Moore did #8, involving a tour of the Spawn universe’s underworld, and it was very Alan Moorish.  He’d later write a rather comedic mini-series about Spawn’s demonic foe the Violator.  Dave Sim handled #10, a meditation on the difference between creator owned and corporate comics that featured an appearance by Sim’s Cerebus the Aardvark.  Frank Miller wrote #11, something involving a cybernetic gang war that apparently got the best fan feedback despite the fact I found it the most forgettable issue in the pile, and Miller would later write one of the Spawn/Batman crossovers.

But #9 was written by Neil Gaiman and featured the first appearance of Angela.  Spawn, the character, was one Al Simmons, a soldier who died, went to Hell, and cut a deal with the demon down there to gain great power, but also allowing him to go back to Earth.  There’s more to it than that because, you know, deals with the devil are never a good idea, but Angela was, well, an angel and a Hellspawn bounty hunter.  Her appearance in #9 showed her meeting and defeating an admittedly awesome-looking Medieval Spawn before meeting up with Al Simmons in the present and losing a fight to him in a rather vague manner.  But hey, she was part of the Image Comics Universe (if such a thing existed given the nature of Image Comics), but at the least, the scantily-clad angel (because this was a 90s comic) would show up from time to time to cause Al problems.

Heck, she even had a silent cameo/Easter Egg appearance in the live action movie.

The earrings are the giveaway since the character has no lines or even does anything aside from walk around.

Anyway, Angela would be a character to cause Spawn problems for a while, then they even became lovers because…um, having seen what Spawn looked like outside of his living costume, let me just say “ew”.  She died, but Al rebooted the universe or something and brought her back.  Honestly, I read Spawn for probably far longer than I should have, but I don’t much remember anything beyond a certain point.  Regardless, she was there in the book…and that was what led to other, more interesting problems.

Remember how I said Neil Gaiman wrote her first appearance?  Yeah, well, funny story:  he thought he was owed money for her subsequent appearances as a result.  McFarlane apparently initially agreed to shared creator rights with Gaiman, but then later said Gaiman was doing work-for-hire and was owed nothing.  And…OK, am I the only one seeing irony here in how an Image Comics founder was making that claim?  Regardless, the Angela rights went to court, and Gaiman won.  After getting a sizable judgment, Gaiman got co-ownership to the character.  Later on,  Gaiman and McFarlane settled the dispute, giving Gaiman full ownership of the character.

And then Gaiman sold the character to Marvel.

There’s probably some irony there too.

So, now Angela is in the Marvel Universe.  What’s her deal there?  Is she still an angel?  Apparently, yes, but she’s also the daughter of Odin, making her the sister to Thor and Loki.  Right, her.  Not Hela.  That’s the MCU.  This is the comics.  Apparently, the Nine Realms was actually the Ten Realms, with Heaven being the tenth, and Angela, also known as Aldrif Odinsdottir, first popped up in the Age of Ultron storyline, the one that involved Ultron and time travel, not whatever that Avengers movie was doing where the only thing the two stories had in common, near as I can make out, is Ultron is in both of them.  She probably joined the Guardians of the Galaxy because a lot of characters did in those days and had a relationship with another, wingless angel named Sera because it was always easier in these story to make a gay female character instead of a gay male character.

But really, the rights battle for this character was probably far more interesting than her actual exploits.

Unless Jimmy meant some other Angela.  That might be a whole different story.