Born in 1727, Liam, the son of an Irish merchant, was destined to become first Angelus, one Fifth of the Scourge of Europe, and eventually Angel, the champion of the Powers that Be.
But it was a long, strange trip that would take the young man who liked women and drink, as well as art and poetry, to the vampire with a soul who would do his best to save humanity, whether they liked it or not.
Liam grew up the eldest son of an upper-middle class Irish merchant. Expected, as he was to eventually take up the family business it was to his father’s bitter disappointment that he had little to no interest in the business at all. Instead Liam’s main focuses were on the world outside of his small town in Ireland and art (*1). Neither of which were acceptable to his father. Perhaps afraid that his son would become a ‘worthless’ artist or run away and leave the family his father pushed him to become more involved with the business. And when that didn’t work he belittled his son’s desire to see more of the world (*2), which automatically sparked rebellion in Liam and led to several increasingly vicious verbal (and alluded to physical *3) skirmishes between them.
By the age of twenty-six Liam had become everything his father said he would, a drunkard, skirt chaser and all around lout with seemingly no consideration for anyone or anything but himself. Liam’s bitterness, with his father for trying to crush his dreams and with himself for not pushing harder to make them come true, had manifested itself in a deep self-loathing that could only be temporarily assuaged in the arms of a woman or the bottom of a bottle. However it is shown that there was still some spark of the young man who dreamed of being an artist and that genuinely cared for his family, particularly his sister Kathy.
The bright spot in an otherwise bleak existence Kathy, Liam’s baby sister, is shown repeatedly to be the only person who loved him just the way he is. (*4) She was his angel and he was hers. Kathy was the epitome of everything good left in the world for Liam and possibly the true reason he never felt he could leave home. After seeing how his father turned on him when he did not meet his expectations and knowing of just how cruel his father could be, maybe Liam feared that his beloved little sister would take the brunt of his father’s anger should he depart. It is why it is doubly terrifying and horrendous when he brutally kills her after he is turned by Darla.
The one with the angelic face. In 1753 on a dark night after an outing at the local pub Liam followed a beautiful and seductive woman into an alleyway. That woman was the master vampire Darla and that night would be the beginning of a reign of terror that lasted over one hundred years.
Darla sired Liam and when she did she unleashed a force of such pure evil that it became legendary even in the demon world. Angelus, the name that Liam was given by Darla, was the cruelest, most seductive, most inventive torturer and murderer Europe had ever known. His specialty was the corruption of purity, his second kill being his sister, the purist soul that Liam had ever known. This would set a death-long obsession with all who represented purity prime examples being, of course, Penn – the Puritan son of a minister, Drusilla – a beautiful young girl gifted with second sight who was to become a nun, and William aka Spike – a virginal poet untouched by the world around him. (*5) These three trained and mastered by Angelus and Darla would become part of a quintet of brutal vicious, vampires that would eventually become know as the Scourge of Europe, the pride and fear of the Order of Aurielus, one of the oldest of all vampire families.
Angelus often came in conflict with the Master, the extremely powerful head of the Order who’d sired Darla, due to his flamboyant style and his love off the world ‘above’. Where as the Master preferred to live and build power in the shadows Angelus dared anyone and everyone to know he existed. He stalked and killed with gusto, preferring to draw his victims to him and slowly, methodically drive them to or past the point of insanity. It is this showmanship and skill that intrigues and delights Darla and keeps her by Angelus’ side, often deferring to him though she is his sire, and in spite of the Master’s pointed disapproval. It has been shown that Darla would do anything to keep Angelus’ interest and attention and it is this need on her part that leads ultimately to her loss of him completely.
In 1898 Darla, fearing that she was losing the attention of her long time companion to the increasingly insane Drusilla and dangerous William, gifted him with a beautiful young gypsy girl that she’d kidnapped from the local Romanian tribe. (*6) Little did she know that her actions would cost her Angelus forever, the girl she’d taken was the favored child of the clan and as punishment for her murder the infuriated tribe cursed Angelus with a soul. From that point on he would be forced to remember everything he had done since the night of his siring, every victim, ever torture, every desecration.
And in trying to combat the madness such a curse would bring, Angelus became Angel.
At first Angel tried to return to Darla but she immediately sensed his ‘filthy soul’ and threw him out into the streets, cursing his presence but soon realizing that she was incomplete without him. She tried to have his soul removed but didn’t realize that her plans for the gypsies have been overheard and misinterpreted by the two younger vampires in her care. In an act of vengeance for their missing ‘Daddy’ Drusilla and William decimate the entire tribe, killing everyone and leaving Darla with no one to restore Angelus.
Realizing that Angelus’ predicament is partly her fault she allows him to return and Angel does. Trying desperately to fit in to the family he molded but still conflicted by the soul, he feeds on the worst humanity has to offer hoping that Darla won’t notice. And for a time she doesn’t, happy to have her ‘Dear Boy’ back, but Darla was many things, none of them stupid and soon she notices that Angelus isn’t feeding as indiscriminately as he used to. One night she presents him with a baby, and it is here that the Angel we come to know begins to show, for instead of eating the child as instructed he flees, finding a safe haven for the baby and never returning to his family again. For years he traveled through Europe eventually finding his way to the Colonies and reinventing himself there, feeding on criminals, thieves and animals and having minimal to no contact with humans and demons alike.
It is in the course of these wanderings that he meets Whistler, the tough talking, kindly demon, who would set him on the course to becoming the Angel we know. Pulling Angel literally and figuratively out of the trash and setting him straight on the fact that his method of ‘dealing with’ his soul, isolation from humanity, was in fact a waste of an opportunity. Whistler makes Angel see that he has the chance to make up for some of the harm he had caused as Angelus and helps him to understand that his soul does not necessarily have to be viewed as a curse, but a gift. With Whistler’s help and inspiration in the form of a certain small blonde vampire slayer Angel becomes the flawed and loved hero that we know.
All because a young man named Liam took the wrong woman’s offer.
*3 Angel the Series-Season 1: The Prodigal; Angel the Series-Season 1: Somnambulist
*4 Angel the Series-Season 2: Darla
*5 Author’s Note: It is still contested, though it has been shown on the series that it was in fact Drusilla who sired William, however it is generally agreed by all that regardless of who actually sired William it was Angelus who molded him into the vampire Spike.
*6 Angel the Series-Season 2: Dear Boy