Bullets rain, secrets are revealed, and the stakes can’t get any higher. William Gibson’s penultimate installment of Archangel keeps firing on all cylinders and takes us one step closer into an inevitable and rewarding climax.
At last, the fourth issue of Archangel is finally out. I don’t know if the delays have been due to scheduling conflicts between such high profile creators, or due to editorial hiccups at IDW, -or if it has been just a sick plan to drive us all crazy- but this limited series of only 5 issues has taken a lot to roll out.
Definitively not a Miller/Lee All-Star Batman & Robin scenario, but still, issue 3 came out past October and this current installment comes almost a year after the series premiered last May.
Right off the bat, we notice the art team has been shaken up a bit. Butch Guice shares penciling duties with Argentinian Alejandro Barrionuevo -of Gotham Knights fame-, and Wes Dzioba replaces Diego Rodriguez in colors.
The mood, lighting, panel arrangements and framing are indistinguishable from the rest of the series, but the change of personnel does impact the book in other areas. Facial expressions, most notably those of the black market dealer Fritz and our nameless resistance pilot from the future seem a tad different from what we’ve been used to so far. Line work also feels sketchier.
Archangel is a story of time travel and political intrigue with WWII as backdrop. Corrupt politicians in 2016 have immersed the world in a nuclear winter to gain unquestioned power. The world is slowly dying, so they’ve developed a time machine to go back to WWII to change history so they can perpetuate their rule in a new, fresh time stream.
Last issue ended with our group of heroes escaping from the bad guys in an epic showdown at an underground Berlin night club. Fritz, Captain Mathews, RAF lieutenant Naomi and the enigmatic resistance pilot from the future escape through the night revealing amidst their snappy dialogue information that answers many of the questions Gibson has planted throughout previous issues.
In this fourth entry we finally get to know what Archangel means, the pilot’s specific mission in 1945 and the complete scope of the menace they’re dealing with.
All the traits that have made this series so enjoyable so far are still present. An exhilarating pace, concise interactions between characters and an interesting universe that unfolds bit by bit in teasing fashion. Surprisingly, just as Gibson has been famous for predicting technologies and gadgets in his novels, here he paints a political scenario of corruption, conspiracy and public manipulation that’s not really that far away from what’s happening right now in the international stage between Syria, Russia and the US.
In my opinion, William Gibson’s first foray into the comic book medium has been a very successful one because he has understood the possibilities of the medium and has tried to create a story unique to the format.
Every issue of Archangel presents a question that begs to be answered in the next, and there’s an ever present ticking bomb tension that makes of the whole book a highly addictive page turner.
The 2017 Eisner Award nominations have just been announced and Archangel has been nominated in the “Best Limited Series” category. I’m not sure if it’s completely fair that Gibson’s first work in the medium is already included among the best, but this recognition does say a lot about how much it means to the comic book industry to count among their ranks one of the most influential writers of the last 35 years.
You can buy Archangel #4 at IDW for $3.99. Covers by Tula Lotay (Supreme: Blue Rose), Alejandro Barrionuevo (Teen Titans, Batman) and James Biggie (G.I.Joe).