Thursday, February 4, 2016

Angel Love #1 (1986)


Angel Love #1 (August, 1986)

by Barbara Slate
Editor - Karen Berger
Cover Price - $0.75

The cover boasts "You've Never Seen a Comic Like This!!"  Back in the mid-eighties, especially from the larger publishing houses, you would be hard pressed to find one like it.  Angel Love is sort of romance, sort of comedy, sort of after school special, sort of slice of life... it's a hard one to categorize completely.  This is a new book to me, I had only picked it up a few months ago finding it (found all issues but #3) in a dollar bin at a local comic shop.  I had known about Angel Love for a while, from the curious ads in other DC Comics of its vintage.  I had never actually had any luck coming across "in the wild", however, until now.

Angel Love House Ad
What is Angel Love?  Besides warm... whimsical... and not at all what you'd expect... it is the story of a young woman living in New York City... maybe in the DC Universe?  

I have a filing system for my miscellaneous comics... if I grab an issue of say DC Comics Presents or Armageddon 2001, I file it in my "DC Universe" box... because the stories take place in the DCU.  If I grab an issue of Wasteland (80s era DC horror anthology) or a licensed title, I file that in "DC Comics etc.", because... while published by DC, the stories do not take place in the DCU... I hope that makes sense.

Looking at Angel Love, one would imagine it's bound for the "DC Comics etc." box... however... she does make an appearance in an issue of Animal Man.  Granted, it was during Animal Man's time exploring comic book limbo, and she only appears in one panel, and she's reading her own comic book... but she was there nonetheless.  I still haven't decided where to file this one, it is however, neat (and silly) food for thought.  Makes you wonder if Ms. Love is still out there somewhere, on the streets of post-Flashpoint New York City.

Animal Man #24 (June, 1990)
Now, I usually roll my eyes when I see a review devolve into defining any given thing by the decade in which it came out ("This is sooooo 90's!).  It's very lazy writing, and panders to a knee jerk, almost "preach to the choir" mentality.  Angel Love, however, is very much a product of the 1980's.  From the hair styles and fashions worn (Angel herself has a bright red mullet and it appears as though she is wearing leg warmers in some panels... her date Don is also very "business in the front", almost the stereotypical Wall Street villain of 1980's cinema) to social issues such as drug use.  This book also does not feature the Comics Code Authority badge, leaving it open to explore more mature themes.

Angel is an aspiring artist who left her home in Scranton, Pennsylvania to ply her trade in the big city.  Finding out the hard way that art gigs won't pay her rent, she takes a job as a rollerskating waitress at the "Balloon" Restaurant on the upper-west side.  She is hopelessly crushing on eatery patron, Don and is amazed when he asks her out on a date.

We meet Angel's roommate, aspiring actress Wendy who is rehearsing her delivery for an audition for Snowy Showy Detergent.  The girls' apartment is infested with a comical bunch of cockroaches.  The cockroaches act as comic foils and provide a bit of peanut-gallery chatter.  One unfortunate (potentially pregnant) cockroach finds her(?)self with a $10 bounty on her(?) head.  The girls' neighbor, Everett takes the contract and eradicates the threat.

Angel's date arrives, and is acting odd.  He is falling asleep during conversation, keeps excusing himself to use the restroom, and seems to have an "in" at a very exclusive NYC club (Studio 108... because it's twice as good as Studio 54, you see).  Considering this is a 1980's era comic, and our man is a bemulleted yuppie caricature... it should be no surprise when Angel discovers that Don is a user of...

COCAINE?!!
Meanwhile, we witness a relatively harmless... though creepy nonetheless bum breaking into Angel and Wendy's apartment.  They have the most comfortable couch, apparently.  He is surprised to find Wendy at home... and Wendy... asks him to make himself comfortable and act as her "audience" while she continues working on her acting.  The Bum is such an odd character, making himself completely comfortable in the girls' apartment... using their pillows, and treating himself to milk and cookies.  He is also a rather charming transient... he tickles Wendy's ego, by asking for her autograph.

The Wendy scenes, while odd are a fun diversion from the after-school special that is Angel's date with Don.  Wendy herself is a fun, if delusionally clueless character.  She (along with the cockroaches) works in keeping the issue from being to "issue-y" and serious.

As the issue draws to a close, as mentioned, Don's cocaine use is discovered.  He pops in to a phone booth, and snorts a line.  Rather than become defensive, Don decides to share the wealth.  He asks Angel if she wants any... and we are [To Be Continued].

Would Angel give in?  Does she want to keep from losing Don?  Will Wendy's autograph be worth millions?  Will they ever get that bum smell out of the couch?

--

This is a fun book.  A bit corny, perhaps... excruciatingly dated, for sure... but fun.  Definitely not for everyone.  The situations the characters are put in seem far less earth-shattering in 2016.  The world has changed a lot in the past 30 years, and Angel Love does not necessarily have a timeless quality to it.  That said, I did enjoy it.  It was light after school special fare, with fluffy writing and interesting cartoony art.  It is almost easier to read this through the prism of 2016 eyes, as it tempers the content from being as serious as it may have been intended in 1986.

At (extremely) quick glance, Angel Love may appear to be the first "batgirled" DC Comics title, three decades before the term was coined... minus the costume, of course.

Dollar bin fodder for sure, worth grabbing for the curiosity factor and novelty.  I wouldn't recommend going out of one's way for this one (unless you are like me, and really dig having these offbeat oddities in your collection).

A quick look at Angel Love creator, Barbara Slate's web-site tells me that Angel Love was not the first Slate-work that I rescued from the bins for the curiosity factor.  Years ago, I picked up a few issues of Sweet XVI from Marvel Comics, because of its unique look, and my inability to imagine it ever being published by one of the "big two".  I have yet to read Sweet XVI, but it is now on my radar... I'll have to dig it out of my library at some point.

Books like this are the reason I started this blog.  These sleeper titles from the offbeat corner of DC Comics are such a treat to explore.  This blog gives me the impetus to get off my butt and finally do so.

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Interesting Ads:

New Chocolate Bonkers Candy!
I don't remember the chocolate variety, but I remember loving watermelon!
DC Heroes Role-Playing Game - Batman Edition!

Not so much an ad, but the initial Angel Love letters page

--

Quotes:

Slimeball: "Hey, Baby... That was a great punch!  Maybe we should get married."

Angel: "I can't kill a pregnant roach!"

Wendy: "Where is my Snowy Showy Detergent?  If you don't give it back, I'll kill myself!"

Bum: "Okay... Let's get this show on the road!  Lights, Camera, Action! *Hic*"
Wendy: "This is it!  My debut!"

Wendy('s autograph): "To Mr. Bum, Love and XXX, Wendy Thornball"

Bum: "Someday I'll *hic* see this name in lights!  Wendy Thorn*hic*ball!"

--

Looking at the quotes I chose, I guess I'd rather this be Wendy's comic.

3 comments:

  1. I don't know that I ever read this comic book, but I will remember the house ads forever. "COCAINE?!" It was so shocking to a grade-school mind!

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  2. I bought this comic when I was a kid. I was really into experimenting at the time. I should take another look at.

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    Replies
    1. I'd say it's definitely worth a revisit. It doesn't take itself as seriously as I'm sure it would if it were published today. It's just a (relatively) light, fun read!

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