Review – Archangel 8 #1 (AWA Studios)

Publisher: AWA Studios (Upshot imprint)
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artwork: C.P. Smith
Colours: Snakebite Cortez
Lettering: Sal Cipriano
Release Date: 18th March 2020

On sale this week from fledgling publisher AWA Studios via their “Upshot” imprint, Archangel 8 sells itself fairly well, promising a ”world beyond the sight of mortals”, where “Heaven and Hell wage war for the souls of man­kind.” Curiously though, this first issue doesn’t actually deliver much of that.  In fact, if I hadn’t read the solicitation blurb I’d actually be none the wiser about the backstory of this admittedly impressive new series, which instead presents itself as a gritty tale of a hired killer and the seedy world he inhabits.

Series writer Michael Moreci provides the same level of engaging, realistic-sounding dialogue that has typified his work since I first discovered him.  Our leading man’s inner narration keeps the story surging forwards, and while the aforementioned war between Heaven and Hell – and the whole “angels” thing – is barely touched upon, this is still an engaging read from start to finish.

CP Smith’s artwork helps to underscore the gritty, messy world that the lead character inhabits, with a scratchy, heavily-shadowed style throughout.  The violence is frantic, with blazing muzzle flashes and chaotic close-ups aplenty, and the whole thing pulses with a dark, cinematic quality that really sells the tone of the story.

Impeccable execution aside, there perhaps isn’t anything too ground-breaking at play here.  At least not yet, anyway, although the final page jaw-dropper has the potential to change that rapidly as we move into issue two and – presumably – the reveal of the larger stakes laid out in the solicitations.  Knowing Moerci, I’m fairly sure he has more than a few tricks and wrinkles ready to throw in before all’s said and done, and the idea of him tackling an ecclesiastical hitman smackdown fills me with childlike joy.

At the end of the day, there’s little I can fault about Archangel 8, save for a slight deviation from my expectations.  Providing a bleak and violent introduction to this world of hired killers, Moreci, Smith et al do a great job of laying the groundwork for what promises to be an entertaining series. With an enigmatic leading man and a twisted succession of feints, twists and shocking violence, this is a new series you really ought to be checking out.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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