Angela: Queen of Hel #1-7

Just two years ago I wouldn’t have believed anyone telling me that I’d enjoy a comic about Angela, and that I’d be sad to see it end. My first encounter with this Angelic hunter created by Neil Gaiman for Spawn was Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy run, and it was not the best introduction.

In hindsight the blame is on the writer, as he never gave her much of a characterization outside of making her a less interesting copy of Gamora. The main reason I picked up the first issue of Angela: Asgard’s Assassin was because of the co-writer, Kieron Gillen; one of my favorite writers. As the series continued, I became more and more invested in the fast-paced chase story spun by him and the other writer, Marguerite Bennett, at the time a complete unknown to me. And while good writing helped, a big part of that change of heart came from Angela’s co-conspirator – another Angel, the sorceress and storyteller Sera. It’s through her stories (beautifully rendered by the extremely talented Stephanie Hans) that I gained an appreciation and understanding of Angela and her “nothing for nothing” code – but also of Sera herself.

This is Angela’s series, but it’s Sera who is the breakout star of the comic. The lovable, humorous and optimistic trans woman of color captured the hearts of everyone who read it. Through Angela’s longtime partner and the love of her life we see a side of her that Bendis could never give us – and we get one of the best new Marvel characters in recent years.

Asgard’s Assassin ended with Angela learning of her beloved’s fate and swearing to follow her into Hel. The story continued in Angela: Queen of Hel, which premiered last year as part of Marvel’s All-New, All-Different relaunch – but first we had a Secret Wars tie-in miniseries called 1602: Witch Hunter Angela. In this comic, set in a part of Battleworld created at the start of that summer event, we followed alternate, 17th-century versions of Sera and Angela in their fight against the Faustian Queen. It’s a fun title, and it turned out to be relevant to the finale of this series.

While the Secret Wars tie-in story was still co-created with Kieron Gillen, Queen of Hel is written entirely by Bennett herself, with the art provided by Kim Jacinto and Stephanie Hans. In it, Angela waged war on Hel to free her love Sera and other Angels imprisoned after their deaths by Hela, Queen of the Underworld. Joined by Sera herself and Leah (an Asgardian character created by Gillen for his fantastic Journey Into Mystery run), Angela underwent three trials and fought Hela for the throne of Hel. Along the way, via a vision of an alternate timeline, we learned that it is Angela who depends on Sera, not the other way around. Without her, Angela would become a darker version of herself. Sera, on the other hand, would always free herself and remain true to her character, even without ever meeting Angela. Their love gives Angela the light she would lose on her own.

This week that story ended. The creative team gave us a bittersweet finale to a run spread across three comics. We get to see the epilogue to the Secret Wars tie-in miniseries. We get to see what could have been, if the comic had continued for a while longer. And we get hints where fate might take Angela, Sera and Leah, should Marvel ever choose to bring them back to the foreground. But most of all, we were given a beautiful queer love story, which didn’t end with any of the lovers brutally murdered for drama (which cannot be said about this year’s TV shows).

And though it’s heartbreaking that we didn’t get more, there’s always hope that story will continue. Until then, we’ll see Angela (and hopefully Sera) in the Vote Loki miniseries in the role of chief of security during the titular trickster’s presidential campaign, starting in May.

Dominik Zine is a nerdy lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.