‘Angelic #1:’ Comic Book Review

Simon Spurrier wrote one of my favorite comics this previous year: The Spire, a fantasy allegory about inequality among race and privilege. His new story, Angelic, immediately had me laughing a heavy “WTF.” In what appears to be a post-human world, oceans have overflown into cities, jungle canopies hang from skyscrapers, and primates have formed a civilization based on a religious belief system that we as readers can see is completely absurd.

The primates are at war with dolphins, who they call dolts… and the dolts have the technology to fly! In the midst of this is a single female monkey, Qora, who has wings (They all do.) and wants to fight. In fact, she is constantly questioning these seemingly random and inane religious practices and as punishment is given “extra duties.” This is the hilariously, heartbreaking, and “human” beginning of Qora’s journey, with a final page that had me exclaim “WTF” even louder (in my head, mind you…)!

On the surface, it’s easy to see that Spurrier is lampooning religion to the Nth degree, but the heart and soul is Qora who is subjected at first to being jumped on in a humiliating fashion and in the end potentially something far, far more traumatic.

One thing I do not like about many stories that anthropomorphize animals is that typically the animals lose all of their animal traits with a focus on their being and acting “human” – they just happen be animal humans. Stay calm, though, as Spurrier weaves animal traits directly into all the different personalities. I just read the first few pages again and laughed heartily at the dolphins and their repartee. The primates slip the word “butt” and “poop” into as many words as they can, just as you’d expect primates to do. Spurrier and artist Caspar Wijngaard approach this material incredibly, and it’s a sincere pleasure wading through the top of their intelligence with them. Seriously though, it takes great intelligence to be this irreverent and absurd while at the same time giving us a clean, crisp emotional through line to attach to.

Wijngaard is pouring himself into this book, creating a world that is vaguely recognizable yet completely foreign - emotionally universal yet completely ridiculous. The world is candy colored, but the sadness on Qora’s face is very real. The ignorance in religious beliefs not just real, but obliquely dangerous (until it becomes simply dangerous). Jim Campbell on letters accentuates sounds and language with perfection to bring these distinctly authentic voices to life, allowing this story of earth to take on another dimension entirely.

Once again, Simon Spurrier - with these other incredible creative forces - have brought a comic to the shelves like nothing else out there and succeeds wonderfully.

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