Publishing Company: Image Comics
Written By: Simon Spurrier
Art By: Caspar Wungaard
Welcome to the fantastic world of Angelic! Where the winged monkeys talk and the techno-dependent alien blobs take multiple stabs at being charming.
This story centers on a timid flying monkey named “Qora,” who is supposed to be retrieving food for her tribe, when she encounters the Mans- a species of alien blobs. Qora is already unsettled, because the laws of her land dictate that she is to be wedded to the ruler of the tribe, which is not something she has any interest in (particularly because part of the ceremony involves cutting her wings off!). However, she is excessively timid by nature so, rather than offer any kind of resistance, she elects to just linger on the food run. This tactic plays against her though as she is surrounded by the Mans- historically the enemies of her entire tribe. But they’re being incredibly friendly, so what exactly is going on here?
Something poopy no doubt. You heard me. Poopy. Language is a magnificent device that Spurrier plays with in endless amounts of mirth throughout the whole story. Qora frequently refers to the Mans as “the poopiest,” is insulted by the Mans regarding her “stinkbreath,” and she has strong objection to going anywhere with a “Lunar Tick.” Far from absurd, though, this carefree toying with language transmits as endearingly childish. Coming in with gracefully seamless symmetry, the artwork surrounds and amplifies the taste and feeling of the dialects. Her shy nature is not just dictated, it’s felt. Wuungard does an excellent job bringing empathic expression to her face, while at the same time smoothly bringing emotional context to the contours of the Mans. I mean, think about that- they’re blobs! With beady eyes and small fins. Yet every twitch of their facial muscles is coherent. Every. Coercing. Twitch.
Which begins to be alarming, when those twitches start giving off sinister vibes. You see, according to the tradition of Qora’s people, the Mans serve a god by the name of Ay- but Qora’s people do not believe Ay is a god. They believe he is the devil. In a stroke of truly brilliant narrative, this simple outcast story flips into an intriguing dialogue about the enmity between religions. What do you do when one person’s god is another person’s devil? What are the rules of empathy when the enemy claims to simply be misunderstood; that their god-devil is actually a powerful and caring creature?
And as if that was not enough, these snarky creators throw one more twist into the fray.
Ay is mechanical. He’s a device. A machine. A potent technological wonder with lethally high levels of AI awareness to be sure- but a machine nonetheless. What does this mean? Qora certainly does not know. And as the story builds into its climax, we find out that Qora’s own spiritual beliefs aren’t quite as grounded and trustworthy as she believed. And the price of her ignorance may cost her dearly.
The scenery undergirding this ever weaving fantasy is somewhere between post apocalyptic, futuristic, and the jungle. Admittedly, this combination should not work, which just reveals how talented this team truly is. Playing on the poignant art of subtlety, the environmental backgrounds emote presence without slipping into overbearing, and it is this quality of it not being overbearing that makes it work. The color schemes of both the characters and background setting seem to mute and sharpen like sunset to sunrise, depending on the nature of the scene.
And probably the best aspect of this entire book is that none of its complexity is obvious. You can’t see any of the moving parts; it’s just a fun, strange story. A magnetic journey.
4 Dolts out of 5