Publisher: Planet Jimbot
Writer: Jim Alexander
Artist: David Hill
Release Date: Sept 2015
In an alternate reality Scotland, Angels and Demons truly exist. One such Demon is running rampant on the streets of Glasgow, bringing hell to the very doorstep of the city’s unsuspecting residents. In this reality, the ‘Templar Militia’ are keepers of the peace, upholding God’s law with a militaristic iron fist, under orders from the ‘Living Saints’. It’s in this world Stewart Gabriel finds himself, a man whose heritage has presented him with blessing and a curse, and only he has the power to prevent more bloodshed.
The thing that struck me immediately about this book is the sense of atmosphere writer Jim Alexander and David Hill are able to create in just a few pages, placing the reader squarely in the central character’s headspace. The disjointed narrative of the prologue, left me confused and disoriented, and with a palpable sense of encroaching dread, courtesy of Alexander’s intense, pitch black script, and Hill’s stark monochrome art. Perhaps even more impressive, though, is the duo’s skill in building on that foundation to craft a challenging and genuinely unsettling tale.
Alexander’s bleak story makes you wonder which ‘devil’ is better to know. The ‘militant wing of the church and their masters, The Living Saints’ are every bit as frightening a proposition as the villain of the piece. The totalitarian setting emphasises this further, uncomfortably echoing elements of our own society, with Stewart’s almost constant state of fear and worry perhaps reflective of how many see the world in the current climate.
His internal conflict makes him the archetypal tortured soul, his ‘gift’ allowing him voyeuristic access to the suffering of others, haunting both his dreams and waking hours. Hill’s fantastic character work (especially the rabid demon in all of his savage glory), brings the nuances of Gabriel’s struggle to the fore, his expressions ranging from the subtle to the extreme. Heavy inks and bold hatching perfectly fit with the foreboding nature of the story, and reminded me of the dark and intimidating Glasgow I knew as kid. It was also nice to see some of Glasgow’s locales and iconic buildings rendered so expertly on the page.
Gabriel is a deep, surprisingly complex and finely illustrated piece of work from two creators in synergy, and is a title fully deserving of wider recognition.
You can pick up Gabriel TP for just £5 plus P&P from the Planet Jimbot Etsy store.