Science-fiction frequently acts as a parable for real-world problems, examining big issues through the lens of a familiar yet different world. Logan’s Run explored the perils of ageism and the worship of youth in a society. Soylent Green built itself around the problem of overpopulation. Even Planet Of The Apes was truly about racism, government corruption and class warfare.
Angelic – a new comic by Simon Spurrier and Casper Wijngaard – is the latest work to join this pantheon of science-fiction masterpieces. What appears to be a simple “talking-animal” comic book at first glance hides a story as complex as any Margaret Atwood novel. The fact that it involves flying monkeys and cyborg dolphins with British accents proves completely incidental.
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It is sometime after the fall of Man. The animals of Earth live on, though altered by the science and technology of those who came before. Quantum cats prowl for prey in the wild, demanding attention and love. “Dolts” hunt other animals for the sheer sport of it, flying through them at supersonic speeds. The closest thing to the civilization as it once was lies among the winged monkeys and gibbons.
Our window into this world is Qora – a young “girlmonk” whose questions are a constant source of annoyance to those around her. She questions why only “boymonks” are allowed to be warriors when she is just as fast or smart as any of them. She questions the need to perform the holy rites to “the holy strings… the divine lights… and the sainted glowbox” – artifacts from The Makers that no one understands or even tries to understand. She questions much of The Lore that informs their society.
Such questioning cannot be allowed to stand, particularly when repeated punishment and extra “response-abilities” prove insufficient to stop Qora from saying the elders’ least favorite word – Why? For this reason, the chief warrior selects Qora as a “lowwife” – a girlmonk assigned to the duty of breeding, whose wings are ritually broken so they cannot fly. The highwife speaks of this being a great honor but Qora sees it as the worst punishment ever.
Blasphemous as it may be to call Angelic a fusion of The Wizard of Oz and The Handmaid’s Tale, the comparison to both books is apt. Simon Spurrier’s script brilliantly tackles the conflict between progress and tradition and the conflict between generations among other issues. Indeed, this may be the first story in any medium to address the controversy of female genital mutilation using talking animals.
Casper Wijngaard’s artwork for this first issue looks fantastic throughout. The characters are all illustrated with expressive faces and body language that speaks to their personalities as much as their dialogue. The few action sequences are well-choreographed and the story flows easily from panel to panel.
Skillful an artist as Wijngaard is, the cuteness of his characters is often at odds with the darkness of the script’s subject matter. This may be an intentional choice, as the horrific scenes are all the more shocking given the general bright and cheerful appearance of the book. It remains to be seen how effective that choice will be in the long run, but Angelic #1 is an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.