angela by neil gaiman and greg capullo
i’ve been wanting to explore neil gaiman’s back catalogue and so was pleasantly surprised when i ran across this in a charity shop for just a pound! i read spawn when it first came out and thought it was cool and i read a few other mainstream image titles like gen13, the maxx, wildcats and quite a few others. i loved superheroes and lavish, flashy art, so i liked most of the image stuff.
ten years later i don’t like that art so much. its not the art as much as its the layout of those 90s image comics. every character has to be jumping out of the page! every shot is a close-up and in each one the character is posing – either with muscles bulging or with breasts bobbing. technique-wise and texture-wise i quite like it, though… its not too bad, if a little boring. but if only they’d sit still!!
also, there was a sense that they were just churning these comics out according to a template. not that marvel is entirely innocent in this respect either…
today, i don’t like the superhero genre quite as much as i used to. i read spawn quite recently and it was dreadful. it was very trite. and since i didn’t like the art either there wasn’t much there to enjoy. what made these comics so popular was the art and if the art loses its appeal you’re not really left with much in the end!
a few comics still hold up, though, like gen 13 and the maxx (but i won’t go into that now… ) and i was hoping that angela would be one of them. sadly it wasn’t. it was just mediocre.
angela is an angel who has hunted spawns through the millenia. being a spawn spin-off it imitates the early spawn art style and this doesn’t do it any favours. the art commits all the crimes of the worst of 90s image. the story isn’t bad and i wonder what it’d be like with different artwork. image art really dominates the writing and if it isn’t good it can drown out what the writer is trying to say. the storyline is fairly interesting. its about angela being framed and her friends having to seek out spawn to help her out.
i found the dialogue quite flat. too often its just full of gung-ho declarations and not-funny jokes. even when gaiman tried to inject some life into these characters, it didn’t seem to work, although i suspect there was just so much he could do with the character…
there are some quite nice moments, however… one of them is when spawn and angela find themselves in hell (a version of it anyway) and spawn’s servants appear. the servants are so odd and full of character, and really quite funny! its a moment of pure gaiman – these little hell servants are the kind only he can create and give voice too!
i’m probably being a bit harsh with this book. it wasn’t really written for someone in his late twenties and it certainly wasn’t written to be read 10 years after it was first published. it was meant for kids and i’m sure they enjoyed it then. ultimately, though, i wouldn’t really recommend it. i think its only for the hardcore gaiman or spawn fan.