Angelic is a freaking beautiful and soulful comic about flying monkeys. How can that even be?
Step one: Simon Spurrier and Caspar Wijngaard introduce us to an absurd world, one in which these winged moneys throw the word poop around with abandon and follow a faith of holy duties and show complete fealty to “the lore,” the rules and laws of their religion. It’s hilarious satire paralleling how we humans treat and engage in our own religions. Their enemies are flying techno-dolphins who cry for “sport!” The rhythm of the dialogue and ridiculousness of the imagery sets you up for something comedic with a payoff on every page. If the entire book had been this, I would have been more than happy, but this jovial attitude is merely the jumping-off point.
Step two: A certain female “monk”(ey) in this society dares to ask questions. Her name is Qora, and no matter how hard she tries to be a “Goodmonk,” she has a difficult time keeping her mouth shut like the “nobedient” that she is. This need for answers mixed with being continuously shut down until they threaten to literally clip her wings off opens her up to a journey in which all of those questions may or may not be answered. How many of those answers will be to her liking, I won’t say, but the journey is not only intense, it is incredibly, emotionally affecting. This is when Wijngaard pulls a fast one: The imagery that felt ridiculous pages ago now shows real emotion. The faces of these characters are humanized. More and more, we see ourselves in Qora.
Step three: Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up in a religious household that this story speaks so strongly to me; my father was a pastor. Or maybe it speaks to me because it took a long time to dig up the courage to ask questions, not only of the worldview I had been taught to live by, but of myself. That’s Qora’s journey. In the end, it’s a universal journey that we all go through as we come to understand the world around us. It’s a bewildering journey, it’s a scary journey, it’s sometimes a sad journey, but it can also be a thrilling journey to take those first steps away from something we think we know to be absolute truth. Spurrier hits all of these notes with precision, clarity, and pathos. His writing along with Wijngaard’s wonderful artwork draw human frailty and strength out of this journey of a flying monkey and her other colorful animal patrons who I will save for you to discover. And what of humans in this world? Read on…
Jim Campbell knows when to exaggerate and play with the lettering to create something unnatural or humorous, to give the characters texture and add to the emotion. His work is spot on.
If this were Monty Python, it would be more Life of Brian than The Holy Grail. Like Brian telling everyone to think for themselves, reading this makes you wonder how much better our world would be if people stopped and asked themselves even the simplest of questions about what they thought to be true. Maybe it would take them on a journey as incredible, wonderful, and exciting as Qora’s.
Creative Team: Simon Spurrier (story), Caspar Wijngaard (art), Jim Campbell (letters), Emma Price (design)
Publisher: Image Comics
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