WINGED MONKEYS! TECHNO-DOLPHINS! QUANTUM ALLEYCATS! Humanity’s long gone. Its memory lingers only as misunderstood rituals among mankind’s leftovers: the genetically modified animals they used and abused for eons. But for one young flying monkey, QORA, the routines are unbearable. All she wants is to explore. Instead, she’s expected to settle down, to become a mother…to lose her wings.
It’s a literal safe bet to give a new Image title a try. New books from the publisher are always a cause for investigation and celebration. At best you end up with something like Royal City or Southern Bastards. At worst you get something that might not be for you but is definitely new, atypical and interesting. Either outcome is a plus for the medium, which will only thrive on the back of diversity and originality.
I approached reviewing Angelic blindly. I knew nothing about the concept and was only vaguely aware of the creators. And let me tell you, that’s a rare thing in the world of comics these days, where every release seems to be preceded by virtually half the book’s pages in previews or leaks. What I discovered was a book filled with imagination and beautiful art. A book that embraces the best aspects of the comics medium, using it to tell a relatable story in a unique setting and is great to look at.
Part of this book’s charm is the way it lets the story unfold organically for the reader, so I will avoid major spoilers and just give you a simple set up. It’s the future. Humans are gone. All that SEEMS left is animals and machines that were obviously products of people messing with technology and genetics. The main character is QORA, a teenage flying monkey with a strong rebellious streak on the cusp of adulthood, which in this world means an arranged marriage and clipped wings. Two things she wants nothing to do with. Her actions and beliefs get her into trouble and soon she finds herself beset by danger from her people and a monstrous cat as well. It’s pretty heavy stuff when you think about it. But it’s through that, that we learn the details of this world. And it has A LOT of details. Writer Simon Spurrier is smart to work the world building in naturally and have those details emerge in dialog instead of straight exposition. Having QORA question and doubt the traditions and beliefs of her world works well for two reasons. It makes her relatable and likable and it’s a clever way for the reader to learn the details of this future. The book is also accessible to readers of all ages, which is not to say it’s a “kids’ book.” As said earlier, there are heavy themes. There’s even a ‘torture’ like scene. The book is also pretty dense, but a story about adolescence is pretty universal and can connect with most.
The use of language is also pretty interesting here, with the world developing a vocabulary of its own that takes some getting used to at first but is reminiscent enough that you don’t need a glossary.
This is a beautiful book. It’s filled with crisp, vibrant images. Everything is rendered in thick lines, giving the drawings weight. But then you have these great white panel borders that lighten it up just enough to give it an almost animated look. I even see some European comic and video game (think Capcom) art inspiration in these pages. It pulls from a few schools of art and is stronger for it. Caspar Wijngaard is a strong visual artist, with a keen eye for page design as well.
The color palette is gorgeous. It’sheavy on purples and blues and creates a striking atmosphere. And it’s slick and glossy, but it has a dark enough sheen to not come across as too digital and stiff.
Check out Angelic if you want to read something with a solid story and some beautiful art and design. It’s the kind of book that could appeal to fans of on different spectrums of age and interest. It’s also a great example of great comics storytelling; imaginative, clever, fluid and engaging. The book hits stands September 20th, 2017.