My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sometime late last year I was made aware of this one (given what was going on in my life when it originally came out I can see how I could have missed something as epic as Neil Gaiman writing this). It was a Christmas treat and what a treat it was. It was more than I even expected it to be. Gaiman's Sandman series is still one of my all time favorites so I had such high hopes but this went even beyond that. It has so many of my Silver Age favorites, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Spiderman and more but reimagined in the titular 1602. Of course, the mutants are considered witches and are being hunted by the Inquisition. Queen Elizabeth is some protection against them but she is an old woman and King James (yes that one, the misogynist witch hunter) is warming up in the wings.
Nick Fury is the Queen's man, her spy and assassin as needed. He is, however, also friend to this version of Charles Xavier (Carlos Javier) and the 'witches'. It doesn't take long for things to start going badly (without being too spoilery, Angel being tied to the stake because how can you mask a man with wings?). Victor von Doom is in the mix, handsome and strong as the leader of Latvia and he is in search of a weapon that Fury is trying to protect. Also entering the picture is young Virginia Dare from the Colonies and her Native American companion (who is oddly blond) looking for aid for the suffering colonists and hiding a dark secret.
It's hard to review much of the plot without destroying it so I won't. It's worth every second of your time. It is Machiavellian in its twists and turns. The whole 'how did all these heroes end up in the 1600s is interesting too. There wasn't a part of this that I didn't like. I could hardly put it down.
Let's talk art. If all comic book art looked this beautiful, I'd have to own a second house just to keep all the volumes I would own. It is lush, detailed and flat out gorgeous. I haven't seen comic art like this is ages (or really ever, it is that superb).
Get this one. You won't regret it.
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Angel: The End by Bill Willingham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was excited to see Bill Willingham doing the last arcs of IDW's Angel series. I loved his work on Fables. Unfortunately in some respects it seems like a lot of the IDW authors either inherited a mess or ignored what had come before (reading this so many years after the fact I'm out of the loop on exactly what was going on here).
Angel in the future (Fray's future one wonders) didn't really work all that well for me to be honest. It was an okay storyline but a bit lack luster and I guess in a way they had to figure out somehow to deal with the actual 'angel' in a different author's storyline. At least the way James ended up being handled made much more sense than him being an actual Angel.
Connor trying to run Angel Investigations I had mixed feelings about. I liked him trying to honor his father. I didn't care for how antagonistic Gunn was and of course Spike is there stirring the crap. I was amused by what Illyria has planned for Connor.
At the end of the day this became Angel and Connor's book with the others getting side stories or simply sidelined. It put forth interesting ideas of Connor evolving along the lines of the Powers which I would have liked to see explored more. It was weird how the Sisterhood of Jaro Thull (which I kept reading as Jethro Tull) decided to handle Connor and their motivations seemed muddy at best.
It ended how I would have liked it to end, father-son reconciliation and open ended, Angel and the rest of the Fang Gang still out there fighting the good fight.
So let me talk about the art. I rarely use art in my reviews but I sort of feel like I need to here. Some of the art was really good. The characters looked like the characters (imagine that), not superhero art like in some earlier volumes or some truly crappy art.
So we have art like this where you can easily identify Spike, Illyria, Gunn, Kate and Connor and it's nice to look at it. Luckily MUCH of the volume was this caliber of art.
Then we had this style art which I swear I did while blindfolded (and I can't draw but I could replicate this). No sense of proportions, or how bodies move. It's like a bunch of Gumbies with ugly faces.
It's art like this that made me leave off collecting American comics for years. But at least the ending art was lovely and captured how I would have liked to see things end
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