Thursday, December 02, 2010

Is Buffy's soulmate secretly Batman?

Last night I watched a comic on television.

I watch Angel.

I can already hear a host of people preparing to launch into a diatribe about how Angel is a television character first and the comic came later. Probably more than half of those people would like to condemn me for having an interest in anything related to the Buffyverse (admittedly I found a lot of the longterm storyline ideas of these series to be smart.) To both of these groups I would like to suggest that they back up, take a breath and see Angel (at least at the beginning) for what it is; Batman with super powers.

I watched the show a little when it was on television, but decided the other day that I wanted to start watching something from start to finish and I'd just finished Stargate SG-1. I was looking for something different. Less Sci-Fi and more Fantasy. I settled on Angel for no particular reason and popped the first episode on TV. As I was watching (along with my daughter and wife) I commented that Episode 1 really smacked of a super-hero story. About five minutes before the end of the episode Angel comes to Cordelia's rescue, puts saving the damsel above defeating the villain, and takes some bullets in the back while he carries her to safety.

My wife looked at me and said.....'He's Batman.'

My first reaction was amusement. Batman doesn't have super-powers silly woman! But as I thought it through, I came to appreciate her insight. The first episode is overflowing with Batman references and imagery and really could be the last book in Batman Year One. We have a dark, dangerous metropolis (Gotham City) that is alive with crime and danger. We have a young man (Bruce) who has begun to understand that he has a mission in the world (to help the helpless - to stop evil - etc) who is trying to figure out how he's supposed to do it (looking for the epiphany moment.) He's dark, brooding and isolated from the rest of the world (sound like Batman?) There is a girl he loves, that he can't be with because it will put his mission in jeopardy. His life is forcibly invaded by people who want to help him (Alfred, Robin) and when he's not out prowling the rooftops of the city (hmmmm) he's sleeping in a lair beneath a building he owns (like a cave?) Oh, and he spends a lot of time dressed all in black.

I don't remember the series well enough to dig deeper right now, but I'm very interested in seeing more and refreshing my memory. How long will the comparison last, before the writers find Angel's own groove and the similarities end? While I was looking at the topic, I did some Wiki reading.  Here's what Joss had to say about his own creation:

 "Angel was the one character who was bigger than life in the same way that Buffy was, a kind of superhero." 
I think the moment that best assessed for me his status as a super-hero came right before he saved Cordelia. She was trapped by a very old, very powerful Vampire who heard Angel approaching and when he emerged from being shrouded in the darkness (sound familiar?) the Vampire warned Angel off. Cordelia got a look of terrific satisfaction on her face as she commented "Wait. You don't know who he is, do you?" to the villain.

It had that feel of the heroine of the comic who knows a secret that the villain doesn't. That 'ah-ha' moment when she knows how much trouble the villain is in, even if he doesn't.


Rude39 said...

The first season is like that quite a bit. The second season...kind of. Third season on, the whole thing changes tone to a major degree, but you can still see where he is a superhero.

Just not, you know, the god damn Batman superheroic.

Because, let's face it, no one can match Bruce's hustle.

The 4th Man said...

I would say that's a fair observation. While Angel is determined to do the 'hero' thing, Bruce is compulsive about it.

Angel broods while Bruce plans.

Both are aggressive, but Bruce is aggressive even when there's nobody around to punch. He's consumed by his mission to a level that Angel never does quite match.