Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Angelus #2 Review

The good folks over at Top Cow were kind enough to send along a review copy of this week’s Angelus #2, a spin-off from their Witchblade title. Since I have previously checked out Top Cow's two main properties, Witchblade and The Darkness, I decided to give this issue a look as well. Hit the jump for my review.

Written by Ron Marz
Art by Stjepan Sejic

As a second issue in a miniseries, Angelus #2 is a peculiar one. The issue is essential nothing but introductory material and there is almost no real plot at all. While I haven't read the first issue and could be missing something, this one comes with a recap page and 1) I don't seem to have missed anything essential and 2) it really doesn't change the fact that most of the issue is taken up by a bunch of exposition and info dumping.

The longest scene in the issue, which takes up about half of the page count as well, is a conversation between Danielle Baptiste, current wielder of the Angelus, and Sabine, second in command of the army of warriors that were created by the Angelus. This is were all of the info dumping happens as well and, given that it took up almost half of the issue, I would have expecting something of importance or interesting to be brought up but literally anything that you need to know is in the recap page.

There is some info on the Angelus warrior society but all of it cliched and not really worth getting in to, or even really worth the page space that Marz wasted on it. There were also some odd parts to the scene as well. In it, Dani reveals that she is friends with the wielder of the Darkness, who she is supposed to destroy, which creates some temporary dissension in the ranks. It is also strongly hinted at that Sabine is planning to bring down Dani at some point as well. This is odd since Sabine specifically mentions that the Angelus created all of these warriors so it seems weird that they would have the potential to disobey their creator. They are also a caste based society as well so their dissension against their leader seems even more strange in that regard.

While these two little points of interest could lead to something worthwhile down the road, I wouldn't be expecting that. The issue generally shows a lack of imagination, or ambition really.

The final reason why I'm not expecting much in the way of originality is that, when Dani first arrived in the Angelus realm, she mentions that it looks exactly like Heaven, to which Sabine replies that there is no such thing despite the fact that the issue starts off with a couple of Angelus warriors in what is clearly Hell searching for something, which makes it odd they so casually dismiss a Heaven.

The final scene is also incredibly juvenile, to put it lightly. In it, Dani's friend Finch is confronted and hit on by two men, eventually kicking one of them in the genitals, at which point the pair attempt to rape her (nothing graphic happens) but are stopped by Dani. My immediate reaction was "What the f&%$?!" since the scene adds absolutely nothing to the comic. Nothing. The scene is pointless in every sense of the word. I guess Marz added it because he thought it might make the comic more "mature" or "edgy", which is the only explanation I could possibly come up with, but it achieves the exact opposite effect, pulling me out of the issue with the absurdity of it and how out of place it feels.

As for the art, Sejic's work has the exact same problems I had with Clayton Crain's art in X-Force. The same uncanny valley problems and the same plastic-like look all of the characters have but I think it is slightly worse with Sejic's work since his art looks like a bad digital rendering a lot of the time. I can't explain it much better than it just looks "off" in one way or the other. Really, it's the whole "looks like plastic thing" to me - it just feels fake. I can see how many would like it, but I just personally hate that style.

The character designs are a little odd at times as well. While the main characters, Dani and Sabine, are well designed, a lot of the back ground characters are just odd. In fact, most of the Angelus warriors tend to look like S&M rejects. They are also the only characters that have any kind of cheesecake costumes, which adds to their odd look, given that they are supposed to look like angelic warriors, and the only positive is that the cheesecake is limited to just them. Sejic's character work isn't much better when you get away from the costume designs as well. In fact, some of the facial expressions that the characters use make them look creepily inhuman, though I suppose they aren't exactly human (most of them anyways) either.

There are a lot of details in his work though, but that's one of the few pluses. The other big one would be the colouring. Like Crain's work, the art isn't served well by a darker palette, but there are only a few darkly coloured sequences in the comic so it's not a major problem for much of the issue.

Verdict - Avoid It. Although Angelus #2 is not especially bad in one way or another, it still has very little to offer in the way of appealing content for a new reader like myself coming in fresh to Angelus.

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Andrenn said...

I have to admit i'm surprised by the review. the first issue was solid and enjoyable, a great set up issue, so I was excited for issue #2 to really kick start things from here on.

Marz has usually been good at making exposition feel like an actual part of the story and give a reason as to why the characters are talking about some back story.

Also I personally like Sejic's art a lot, I find it gorgeous. I don't see plastic figures or anything like that with his art. To me it's straight up beautiful and well detailed art.

I still have hope for this mini though and am hoping i enjoy it more then you did when I pick it up tomorrow.

Eric Rupe said...

Andrenn - The stuff I found useless could be of interest to fans. As for Sejic's art, it's just something I don't like.

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