Sunday, June 26, 2016

"Archangel" #1 Review

"Archangel" #1 from IDW -

     Our leaders have destroyed the world. Everywhere - from Tokyo, to Moscow, to London - we have scorched the world. Luckily, the the greatest scientific breakthrough that the world has ever known was made in the knick of time. The Splitter is a behemoth of a machine that has created an alternate reality timeline, and punched a hole into it so that people for our world can clandestinely slip into the other. The last remaining leaders of America, including the devious Vice President Henderson, have hatched a plan to invade the power system of this world in the 1940s, and take it for their own devices. Vice President Henderson leads a small team to the other Earth via the Splitter; however, unbeknownst to the would-be usurpers, some of their own are not willing to allow them to twist and destroy an entire other innocent world. This small group of dissenters hatches a daring plan to enter the alternate time-stream and stop Henderson. Unfortunately, the dissenters' incursion into the alternate timeline ends in a conspicuous disaster, prompting the British Ministry of Information to dispatch a young, beautiful Royal Air Force officer to gather intelligence via her connection with a young Army captain in American Intelligence. What none of them know is that the Vice President has already infiltrated the Pentagon, and he is on his way, intent on doing whatever is necessary to bring his plans to fruition. August 1945 is the month of the Allies greatest victory...In this alternate timeline, it may be the time of their greatest defeat. And no one would ever know. 

    William Gibson, one of the most important science fiction authors of our day (often credited as the creator of the cyberpunk subgenre of sci-fi), makes his first foray into comic books teaming up with writer and actor, Michael St. John Smith, to pen "Archangel." "Archangel" reads a bit like a novel, giving exposition, and excellent character development from the first page. Even if the first issue feels a bit slow-paced, it doesn't really matter because the characters are so relatable and multi-dimensional that I was entirely immersed in the worlds that Gibson and Smith created. I was instantly reminded of the films, Timeline and Invasion of the Body Snatchers - this comic feels like a bit of a cool mashup of those two films and the literary works that inspired themMaster artist, Butch Guice provides the pencils in his beautifully detailed style, which gives this book a hefty 1940s atmosphere, and makes it feel a bit cinematic as well. The first issue of "Archangel" seems to promise the reader a classic, well-thought-out, well-executed alternate-timeline, sci-fi adventure. This is a journey that I would love to take. Count me in. 

 FUN FACT: In a panel in this comic, an issue of the pulp, Astounding Science-Fiction, is seen in the desk drawer of one of the main protagonists, young Royal Air Force doctor, Naomi Givens. In it is a short novel written by one of my favorite authors, Robert Heinlein, called, "If This Goes On--." It is about a theocratic future society ruled by fundamentalist religious prophets - and the revolution against them. I wonder how that fits in here. Self-righteous future dictatorships looking to suppress the will of the people, and remake society in the image they want, maybe? I am not sure. What I do know is that having that book may identify Doctor Givens as a person who would not have trouble believing in other worlds. Coolness.

This book is very good - but, if it picks up the pace in subsequent issues, it has the potential to be great.

RATING: 8.5 out of 10. 

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