(Submitted by your Super Friend and mine, Mr. Doctor Prince Adam…Thanks, you Naughty Nerd, you! 😉 xoxo)
“No Angel is a cosmological and conspiratorial modern western with super power by way of The Da Vinci Code.” (Black Mask Studios)
No Angel is an independent comic book, written by the brother sister team of Eric Palicki and Adrianne Palicki. If that name sounds familiar, it should. Adrianne Palicki starred in the film Legion, played Mockingbird on Agents of SHIELD and starred in the pilot for the David E. Kelley Wonder Woman series, which never got off the ground. Her involvement is how this book got on my radar. Thee book starts out with an FBI agent based out of Chicago, returning home to the small town of Tucker’s Mill Wisconsin. Our protagonist Hannah Gregory, comes upon her old house with her high school friend, now the Sheriff. The house is now a cordoned off crime scene, as her father and brother have been murdered. While attending the funeral, Hannah meets a woman who had a relationship with her father. The woman suggest they should talk, handing Hannah a piece of paper. Hannah scolds the woman and demands she leaves. If this is sounding like a paint by the numbers CBS Drama, I thought the same thing at first and was quickly losing interest. However, the book quickly takes an interesting turn, when Hannah reads the note, which has a bible passage on it. This bible passage, tells of angels mating with humans. Curious, Hannah meets with Miriam Chapman, who tells Hannah that she and her father were indeed a couple, but it was more than just sex. Miriam and her father believed in the Nephilim , which are the children created from the unions of angels and humans. It turns out that these bible passages have truth to them and that Miriam and Hannah’s fathers research deduced that the bloodline of the Nephilim has survived and that they, along with their family members are descendants of angels. Adding to the mythology, is that Hannah has a half sister named Jessica. Due to the pairing of two descendants of the Nephilim, she is born complete with actual Angel wings. I’m sure there are films and television that flirt, or directly deal with the children of Angels and human fornication. I think the aforementioned Legion starring the co-writer of this book, dealt with a similar idea. Also, a recent issue of Lucifer, saw human and a demon give birth to Cain and Abel. Even Preacher has an angel and demon hooking up and creating a unique offspring. However, the idea of humans and angels getting together, coupled with the family drama, that originally had my interest waning, actually made the supernatural element more unique. The further mythology is cool as well. There are several other descendants of angels, that comprise a group know as the Eloise. The members/descendants of angels are from all denominations of religion, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. I love the decision that, while the conception of angels is rooted in Christian mythology, other religions are included as descendants of the Nephilim and in the group of believers known as the Elioud. Religion often divides amongst different denominations, so seeing them all come together under a common belief was a welcome change of pace from the reality we live in at times.
With the mythology now set, the revelation (no pun intended), that the death of Hannah’s father and brother was no random robbery is revealed. The murders were actually part of a string of murders of Elioud members that began 14 years ago, The killer is a man named Elliot. Elliot is a member of the group The Watchers, who believe in the Angel Azazel. According to The Watchers, Azazel understood the tyrannical potential of his fellow angels, went down to Earth and shared secrets with humanity about angels and helping them create weapons that could kill the angels. For his deeds, Azazel is punished, disfigured and cast out of heaven. He is chained and buried underground, However, he gets free by mutating into a horde of spiders. He and his followers drove the angels into disappearance. However, now that they are back via their descendants, The Watchers, via Elliot are back on the hunt. I loved the classical battle of good and evil, where the roles are so clearly defined. There’s no black and white and sometimes, that’s okay. Too many characters are shades of grey in modern stories. The rest of the book is a chase/hunt, with Elliot hunting Hannah and Jessica, while they race to evade him and try to protect other members of the Elioud. As a result, I agree with the description calling it a modern day western. In fact, it reminds me a little bit of Logan, with Hannah being this story’s Wolverine and Jessica being the Laura/X-23 character. There are deaths as a result of this chase. Miriam is killed by Elliot and when Eliot has a gun pointed at Hannah ready to pull the trigger, Jessica ignites a fire at the gas station, burning Elliot to death. Jessica is mortified by what she’s done, after her parents have raised her to be pious and live a peaceful life. Seeing her half sisters pain, Hannah tells a story about her time in the war in Baghdad, where to save her partner, she threw a grenade into the apartment the sniper was stationed in. Ultimately, she saves her partner and got a commendation for it, yet she was ultimately mortified when she realized the sniper was just a boy. The similarities between the two siblings actions, and reactions to the consequences of their actions, further bonds them. This is a big moment for Hannah because at the start of the book, she was very closed off towards her family. However, each issue showed a progression of Hannah opening up to the notion of a sister, accepting her as part of her family and the fact that she’s an angel, before finally accepting her role in Jessica’s life, post Miriam’s death. I loved the slow burn of this relationship. It would have been absolutely disingenuous if Hannah embraced and accepted Jessica straight away. I also really enjoyed the juxtaposition of Hannah’s war time flashbacks, with Jessica killing Elliot. This book manages to ground itself in the unfortunate reality of war, while telling a story with overt supernatural trappings. Not many movies, comic books, or television can balance both as good as it is here.
Art is drawn by Ari Syahrazad. His art is new to me but is very reminiscent of Michael Lark’s work on Daredevil, though that art is slightly more detailed. This book had everything, The dark, gritty, earthy look of war. You feel like you’re in Baghdad, and that your life is in danger, as you track Hannah and her fellow soldier through that warzone. The creepiest image is easily seeing spiders crawl out of Elliot’s eye socket’s and all over his face. The second creepiest is a young Elliot being indoctrinated into The Watchers, while staring at the strung up bones of Azazel. The opening of the door, to reveal Jessica, Hannah’s literal Angelic half sister looked both impressive as it should, yet rather small scale given the homely setting. It’s a very unique image to behold. We’ve got grit, we’ve got a creep factor, and we also have big action sequences. We’ve got a car chase shoot out, that looks like they could be Need for Speed concept art drawings. There’s also a gas station explosion and Elliott going down in flames, that would make Michael Bay and James Cameron’s testicles tingle. The artist can seemingly draw literally anything the writers throw at him.
I didn’t even know about this book, let alone have any expectations for it. Yet, here we are and I really liked it. This book was a four issue mini series but the ending implies that more is to come (no I won’t spoil the ending.) I definitely want more, especially after the end of the epilogue. So, do your part, buy this book and read it, so we can get a volume 2. Buy it because independent comic books don’t always get the love and exposure they deserve. More importantly, buy this book because it’s a fantastic story!