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Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
by yo go re

Like the rest of humanity, I hadn't read the modern Guardians of the Galaxy comics before the movie came out. But I did know that Angela hung out with them after she joined the Marvel Universe at the end of Age of Ultron, so when redheaded Karen Gillan was announced in some unnamed role for the film, I thought this is who she'd be playing.

A master of hand-to-hand combat, Angela is known throughout the galaxy for her battle prowess.

You already know how Angela, as a character, made the journey from Image to Marvel: Neil Gaiman created her, Todd McFarlane didn't pay him, the court said he had to, so he gave Neil the full rights to Angela instead. That link up above goes into more detail, but those are the highlights. What's really interesting is how Angela, as a person, made the journey from the Image Universe to the Marvel Universe.

In Spawn, Angela was a bounty hunter from Heaven, charged with killing Hellspawns; she and Spawn formed an unlikely truce, then fell in love, then she was killed in battle (Todd was writing her out to avoid having to pay royalties); Spawn took her body back to Heaven. In Age of Ultron, Wolverine's time-travel shenannigans broke reality, allowing a resurrected Angela to slip out of her reality and into his. But there's more to it than that.

Angela's Marvel costume was designed by Joe Quesada, and this toy duplicates it with exacting detail. She has boots made of golden armor that come up to her mid-thigh. Two thin purple straps circle her left leg, matching the color of her underwear. She has no shirt, just more golden armor protecting her breasts, a golden pauldron on her left shoulder, and a silver-and-gold one of a different style on her right. Banded silver armor covers her right arm all the way to the top of the bicep, but on the left it stops at the elbow. She may not have One Giant Boot™©, but she does get asymmetrical wrist armor: two unconnected pieces on her right wrist and elbow, and a big bracer with red accents on her left. She wears a thick brown belt that has a white train falling from the back nearly to ground level. She also wears a long golden ribbon coiled around her neck, draping down both across her chest and her back.

This is a nice design, but honestly, no matter how good it may be as an update of her early-90s Image costume, it still looks like an update of an early-90s Image costume, you know? Yes, holding onto those design elements makes sense, but unless you're going to start over from scratch, the lingering remnants of McFarlanism will always keep her from looking like she truly belongs in the Marvel U, same way a Marvel costume would look wrong at Image.

One of the features that survived from her original outfit is the headdress. Rather than giving Angela actual wings, Todd drew her wearing a winged helmet thing - and that's where her Marvel story gets interesting. Think about it: who else at Marvel wears a winged helmet? Yeah, there's a reason for that. It turns out Angela is actually Aldrif, the daughter of Odin and thus the forgotten sister of Loki and Thor. Thought killed as an infant, she'd actually been taken from Asgaard to the Tenth Realm, "Heven." As punishment, Odin severed Heven from Yggdrasil, setting it adrift. So now we see that the Heaven where Angela lived, and where she fought Spawn from, was actually a little piece of the Marvel Universe that had been shaved off. Multiverse FTW! Her head-wings are smaller now, because the '90s were 20 years ago, and the black triangles around her eyes have been toned way the h*ck down, now looking like heavy eyeshadow with a few little lightning bolts coming off the bottom.

Since Angela's an Asgaardian (the god of... not wearing panties, maybe? I'd worship that), she's taller than the average woman - nearly 7", and that's not even counting her wings! Hasbro already has a tall female body, but this figure doesn't use any of it. And it's not like there's a lot of chance to reuse the molds later, is there? At any rate, you can tell this isn't a McFarlane toy, because it doesn't skimp on the articulation: she moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, torso, neck and head. The shoulder armor does limit the arms a little, but not to any great extent.

She's armed with two weird little axe things (golden blades and leather-wrapped handles) and a large sword that fits in the scabbard that's glued into the back of her belt. It's just a shame she doesn't come with a stupidly ornate spear, which was her weapon of choice back in the Image days.

Her Build-A-Figure piece is Titus' right leg. If you don't plan to build the whole thing (and why would you?), you can always pretend it's the limb of some enemy she chopped off.

The detail on this Angela isn't as crisp as it would have been under McToys, but it's still a far better toy than Todd ever gave her. It's still hard to think of her as a Marvel character, though, and the design is part of it. Gold, white, purple; armor, sashes, skirt; everything that used to be there still is, and that's why she just looks like an Image update. Someday someone will give her a new costume, and maybe that one will feel more "Marvel-y." But until then, you can always sic her on 10th Anniversary Spawn.

-- 05/08/17

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