Tag Archives: Fin du monde Bandes dessinées

FreakAngels, Vol 3

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews FreakAngels, Vol. 3 [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Warren Ellis, Paul Duffield, & al., part of the FreakAngels series.

Ellis Duffield FreakAngels Vol 3

The tension continues to increase in the third volume of FreakAngels. It turns out I was wrong about all of the FreakAngels having K in their names, Connor, at least, doesn’t, even though he’s got the sound of it. I’m really enjoying these trade paperback collections, but I’m not in the least tempted to read the original webcomic. The pacing, while wonderful in a printed book of this kind, seems like it would be insufferably slow, if taken one page at a time. 

This one ends with a multiple cliffhanger, literal and figurative.

FreakAngels

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews FreakAngels, Vol. 1 [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield, part of the FreakAngels series.

Ellis Duffield Freakangels

The first print volume collecting the FreakAngels webcomic by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield is very good indeed. The FreakAngels are a group of young mutants with psychic powers, who believe themselves to have been responsible for the collapse of modern civilization. They serve as warrior sentinels to a somewhat utopian community of a few hundred people assembled in Whitechapel in the midst of a flooded future London. The story was inspired by John Wyndham’s Midwich Cuckoos, although the comics medium makes it hard not to read it in light of the X-men and other mutant superhero bands. 

The characters are strongly drawn, with the central corps of the dozen FreakAngels complemented by a few key ordinary people. Dialog is often telepathic, and Ellis and Duffield manage to convey that with a number of seemingly effortless narrative and pictorial devices. As is typical of Ellis, there is some violence, the more brutal for being set in the midst of stretches of calmer, more reflective storytelling. 

Paul Duffield’s art is very beautiful. There’s no garish four-color palette here: the future is gray and green and ivory, and the FreakAngels are pale and purple. The ruined and flooded cityscape is lovingly and credibly rendered. 

The physical production of the Avatar Press softbound volume is quite satisfactory. The book’s webcomic origins have two interesting effects. First, the page/panel design is quite inflexible, accommodating only quarter-, full-, and half-page rectangular panels. Second, the narrative pacing doesn’t “chunk” into roughly 20-page “issue” components, as one can routinely expect from trade volumes that collect individual print comic books. Nor does it fully resolve at the end of this book. Having been frustrated by Ellis’s apparently stalled Doktor Sleepless after reading its first trade collection, I’m relieved and gratified to see that there are already six FreakAngels volumes in print.

Supergod

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Supergod [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Warren Ellis, Garrie Gastonny, & al., book 1 of the Supergod series. See also Supergod, Vol 1.

Ellis Gastonny Supergod

In Supergod Warren Ellis has updated most of the pieces of the Cold War superhero fable The One by Rick Veitch, and put it in the multilateral world of 21st-century geopolitics. So, it’s not really so very novel, although it pokes bloody, singed fingers at the usual holes in modern superhero narratives: Wouldn’t people worship superhumans? Wouldn’t superhumans find that their due? Would they really serve the status quo? 

Garrie Gastonny’s art is up to the task: there are a number of full-page and dual-page panels that look like proper devotional art. The depiction of Dajjal (an Antichrist engineered by Western military contractors in Iraq) is particularly inventive and effective. 

Ellis has a considerably bleaker view of the outcome than Veitch did, but to be fair, the planet has gotten a lot more screwed up since the end of the Cold War. In Supergod, Ellis dispenses with the rosy deus ex machina elements from The One, and tells the reader from page one that civilization has gone completely belly-up as a consequence of superhuman-powered catastrophes. The retrospective framing of the story allows for some sardonic humor as well. The whole storyline has a sense of grudging inevitability that can make you wonder whether a scenario like this — if perhaps a little less colorful — isn’t actually in the cards.