Writers: Adrianne Palicki and Eric Palicki
Pencils + Inks: Ari Syahrazad
Colors: Jean-Paul Csuka
Letters: Jim Campbell
No Angel #1 is in purgatory right now but has potential to earn its wings later down the road.
Adrianne Palicki (current Mockingbird, former Wonder Woman) and her brother, Eric, decided to write a comic book and out comes this tale about a former soldier-cop fighting angels and demons. We follow Hannah, the aforementioned soldier-cop, coming back to her hometown to attend the funeral of her father and brother who were all sorts of murdered. All the while, she’s got
some beef with her mother, a budding kinship with a local cop who’s destined for damnation in her Friendzone, and her father’s secret mistress who tells Hannah that she and her father sired a daughter that has angel wings coming out her back. Oh, and it’s hinted by the mistress that the illegitimate-angel-daughter is a Nephilim which only happens when an angel does the dirty with a human and means her dad might have angel blood. Black Mask, I love you.
So what does this all mean? It’s a first issue, we’re not supposed to know but it has a decent premise that can go in a few directions. The book promises an urban murder mystery with a layer of religious iconography for sizzle. This could be very interesting if used well. For example, I really liked how they quoted scripture to introduce the concept of the Nephilim. This not only serves as exposition to advance the plot, but also gives a more curious reader an opportunity actually look up what that quote means and theorize on how that might affect the story later on. Good work by the Palicki’s.
Hannah also proved to be an excellent lead thus far. She seems to be charismatic, intelligent, and adaptable which will all be needed in this story. She’ll need to be smart enough to deduce how all this angel and demon stuff led to her family being butchered, some moves for the inevitable action scenes, and some quips to break up the pages of religious exposition for the audience. I’m also interested in the angel-daughter. Angel-daughter is 18 years old which is a trying time for any well-adjusted teenager, but this girl not only has angel wings coming out her back, but she’s also somebody’s secret love child. She probably has a thing or two to say.
The book’s problems lie with the pacing, tone, and art. The Palicki’s make good work of the 22 pages by introducing the premise to the reader, but they fall short of doing just enough to hook the entire audience. Granted, they have to introduce the characters, the murder mystery, and the Nephilim, but not enough happens in the book. There is only one brief and laughably anti-climactic action scene. I also didn’t care for nonchalant Hannah was throughout this whole ordeal. Both Hannah’s father and brother were killed under suspicious circumstances. She and her mother should be drinking a cocktail mixed with anger, sadness, and confusion but instead they’re just kind of quipping at each other the whole time. The quips weren’t bad. In fact they were well written, but it’s out of place and jarring for the reader.
However, the biggest problem is the art which is best described as drunken Alex Maleev sketches. Ari Syahrazad is on pencils and inks and he does his damnedest to capture to a gritty noir vibe. Jagged pencils, detailed character designs, and emphasis on mannerisms and facial expressions, it’s all inspired intent but his skills don’t
match his vision. Not to be crass, but the book looks ugly and unrefined. Body features and shapes of the characters are inconsistent throughout, there are out of place lines and detailing on faces and clothing, and over exaggerated shadowing. Plus, the colorist (Jean-Paul Csuka) decides to lather everything in a red-orange tinge. It’s effective in some scenes but it’s out of place in most. I don’t know why there was so much red and orange in this book.
Oh, and here’s a link to some scenes of Adrianne Palicki’s take on Wonder Woman. 5 years later, I still think it wasn’t that bad. #StandwithPalicki #WonderPalciki https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVRptUJocAo&ab_channel=toyo925
Verdict: Watch with cautious optimism.
No Angel #1 from Black Mask has a solid story and premise but it doesn’t stick the landing. The series promises an urban murder mystery involving angels, demons, and family drama with a worthwhile lead to drive the story but there was never that moment that made me commit all the way. Not enough happens to get me excited for numero dos. That, and the book suffers from tonal confusion and poor albeit endearingly inspired art. Black Mask however, is a company known for taking risks on more uncommon/eccentric concepts with high reward. I’m more than happy to wait for the trade and see how this story pans out.