Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: William Gibson
Artist: Butch Guice
Release Date: 18th May, 2016
When your typical non-comic book reader hears the term “comic book” they immediately think of Marvel and DC and superpowers, X-Men, Batman, etc. But there’s so much more out there in the realm of comics. Stuff like the upcoming Archangel, a science fiction comic book by Author William Gibson that goes to some wild places without any capes or claws.
This is a story that is experienced best by it unraveling as you read, so instead of breaking the issue’s story down, I’ll just provide you with the synopsis from publisher IDW that gives you the general idea: “Archangel is a wild time travel romp between the closing days of World War II and a present day United States that doesn’t look a thing like our present day. Archangel is full of classic William Gibson plot twists, dialog, characters and settings. Post apocalyptic cyberpunk World War time travel storytelling at it’s finest.”
I love to experience something by going in blind, whether it’s a concert, movie, or comic book, every event is best had without expectations. I’ll be honest, I had to read this first issue of Archangel twice before I fully understood it, but when it clicked, I really dug it. It’s a very old school war thriller mixed with old school sci-fi that has this espionage atmosphere to it. It sounds like a blender of different things, but famed science-fiction writer William Gibson manages to make it all work smoothly, in fact I think it’ll read even better when all of the issues in this 4-part series are released. It has the feeling and scope of a mini-series on HBO or something you’d see on the big screen. That’s something that I was really impressed by, the fact that it has such a wide scope, but manages to keep itself contained and grounded.
Something that I really dug about this inaugural issue is that it gets right to the action, there’s no messing around. On the first few pages we’re already getting into double-crosses and revelations that may be jarring at first, but it’s totally gripping. Plus, it’s not just action-action-action-cliff hanger. It starts out with some cool action and sci-fi moments, but it actually ends on more of a mystery note. The ending of this issue leaves us in the middle of a mystery that I can’t wait to see where it goes. That’s the great thing about this book, it works really well as set up.
When doing a mini-series—whether it be on TV or in a comic book—your first installment has to be the most gripping, it’s what gives you a sense of the world ahead and the mysteries to come, leaving you begging for more, and that’s what this did for me. It gave me just enough to get a feeling for this world and the characters, while still feeling left in the dark in all the right places.
I think that the only problem I really had with this was some of the formatting with certain images, the way certain panels are put together. These problems are very minor, they don’t hurt the story at all, but I did notice them. There are certain moments where the panel is set up in a way that doesn’t show us whose talking clearly enough, as well as panel jumps that feel choppy and disorienting. As I said, these are very minor offenses, but they are noticeable.
Overall, I really dug this issue of Archangel and look forward to the upcoming issues. Sure there are some minor technical problems, but the story is gripping, the mystery is compelling, and the atmosphere is very effectively familiar, yet still fresh and exciting. Will the rest of the series follow through with the potential set up here? Only time will tell, but this issue itself sets up a scope and a story that I can’t wait to dive back into. You should definitely check it out as well.
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The writer of this piece was: Mike Annerino
Mike Tweets from @MikeAnnerino