Perhaps the only thing more daunting than wading through the crowds of New York Comic Con is wading through the dozens of new comic books I bought at New York Comic Con.
I came home from the event with aching shoulders thanks to the sizeable haul of comics that was quite literally weighing me down. Some I was pressured into buying due to my inability to say, “No thank you,” with enough conviction to actually get the message across, some I bought due to word of mouth, most were bought because I’m Marvel trash, and a few I didn’t even buy at all (was it just me or were there more freebies this year than ever before?!)
In the week following the close of the biggest nerdfest of the year, some of these aforementioned comics were carefully framed to withstand my main nemesis (dust) and the rest were carefully read cover-to-cover, and examined panel-by-panel. By the time I reached the back page on the last issue of the lot, the verdict was the same as it is each year: some books I regretted buying, some I really liked, and (thankfully) there was one I even loved.
Nestled in between stacks of Marvel variants was another cover exclusive to NYCC that, seemingly innocuous at first, was actually a sly introduction to a comic that I knew very little about when forking over my last Hamilton to buy it.
From my perspective, looking at a cover is the equivalent of reading a summary… meaning, if I don’t love (or at the very least am not intrigued by) that first taste of the story, I likely won’t bother taking the comic’s grade from mint to near mint.
The NYCC variant for No Angel is almost the very definition of simplistic, depicting a pop-art style spider against a basic orange background. It’s certainly not something I would expect to stand out amongst the busy covers of Marvel, DC, Dark Horse etc. and yet, it’s simplicity is exactly why it did. It drew me in and piqued my interest with a single visual, an impressive feat considering the chaos that surrounded it.
Couple that with the fact that the official cover depicts a gun-toting woman whom I would never want to be on the bad side of, and it’s safe to say that the summary I got from the first visual of No Angel was compelling enough to turn to page one.
Penned by siblings Eric and Adrianne Palicki (yes, that Adrianne Palicki) No Angel is without question the standout of the books I acquired at NYCC, due largely to the fact that the visuals as well as the actual story seamlessly and consistently manage to enhance rather than detract from one another.
Our protagonist, former Iraq war veteran and current FBI agent Hannah Gregory, returns to town after her father and brother are found dead in their family home. The crime scene is a gruesome one, with blood covering more of the floor than not, and seems to depict a standard murder… save for the mysterious arachnid that Hannah finds at the scene.
All-in-all, Hannah’s homecoming isn’t what any sane person would consider a pleasant one, and it’s only made worse by the family secrets that begin coming to light in the wake (and quite literally at the wake) of her father’s death. Couple this tension with the arrival of a character who, though lacking in eyes, is teeming with spiders, and you have a compelling first issue that provides enough questions and mysteries to rival the entirety of Lost.
While the base concept of the story isn’t necessarily new in regards to the comic medium, or even the entertainment world in general, there is an added grittiness to No Angel that makes it stand out from any similar counterparts that deal with murder and the otherworldly.
Combining supernatural mysteries with those found in the real-world creates an interesting pair of storylines that simultaneously feel dichotomous and parallel. While the murder of Hannah’s family will no doubt be linked to the unearthly figures and elements that have been teased, it seems that there are an equal number of people who are in the know as there are people who are entirely clueless to this world hidden within the surface one. Differing knowledge bases always creates interesting plot points and, in a town like Tucker’s Mill that is already rife with tension, it shouldn’t take too long for the collision of these two groups to have a serious impact.
Interestingly, both the aesthetics and the story of this first issue felt like a fusion of the apocalyptic film Legion and the popular television series Supernatural, both of which co-writer Adrianne Palicki happened to feature in. Having said that, No Angel is self-described as being a cross between Preacher and Justified, a comparison that I think is pretty spot-on thus far. Both tonally and visually, No Angel provides a vibe similar to that created by Ennis’ Preacher, and the town of Tucker’s Mill is certainly one that has the same ambiance as Annville.
Ari Syahrazad’s illustrations are a perfect complement to the overarching darkness of the plot itself, and only serve to add to the almost discomfiting feeling that creeps up on the reader as the story progresses. Using different color tones to distinguish between past and present was a welcome decision that aided in immediately acknowledging the flashbacks. There is such an intrinsic link between visuals and stories within the comic book medium that I tend to know fairly quickly whether or not I’ll be willing to read more than a single issue… as was the case with No Angel.
It took six panels for me to know that this is a series I will undoubtedly be subscribing to.
While no piece of entertainment is for everyone, No Angel hits a sweet spot that should entertain a fairly broad audience. The combination of genres is something that I think will be an asset to the series and ensure that readers don’t grow bored or disinterested from one issue to the next. Because of the combination of a not-so-typical murder mystery with a wholly atypical introduction to angels and presumed demons, there is enough story and potential directions for the story for me to be convinced that No Angel will offer fresh intrigue each issue and continuously captivate readers.
“Religious texts from The Bible to the Sumerian tablets speak of strange creatures descending from the heavens and mating with humans, their children the superhuman heroes of myth. None of this ever meant anything to Iraq War veteran Hannah Gregory, until she found herself in the crosshairs of a dangerous cult convinced that she’s a descendant of these mysterious bloodlines… bloodlines they’re determined to eradicate.”
Be sure to pick up your own copy of No Angel when it goes on sale November 30th and check out the following links and sites for updates on the comic!
Eric Palicki Twitter: @epalicki
Eric Palicki Website: http://ericpalicki.com
Adrianne Palicki Twitter: @AdriannePalicki