Before he was the Devil, he was… Morningstar
In the beginning, Father created Heaven. It wasn’t a bad place, but it was empty. So He figured, why not keep things moving along. He created life, but like most things, the first attempt at isn’t always the most satisfying. His initial creations were all anger, spite, and hunger.
Father took another shot at it, and on His second go around the angels were born. They populated Heaven and have made it a home. The archangels are the protectors, holding the line against the daemons- Father’s first children and His bitter disappointments. Led by their duly appointed Marshall Lucifer, the archangels will defend the work of Father and each other against all incursions. That which is made by the Father must be kept pure… but eventually, all things Fall.
First and foremost, I’m a fan of all things strange and twisty. With that in mind, I’m embracing the work of Gerimi Burleigh, creator, writer, artist, and publisher of Morningstar. His completely out of left field spin on angelic legends and Biblical lore is something that has to have been percolating in his brain pan for a while. We’ve seen fantasy based on Biblical references. We’ve seen action, drama, and intrigue. But for the life of me I can’t recall or even imagine any story that’s taken Heaven, angels, and daemons, and turned them into cowboys, riding on horseback and carrying six-shooters- wings and all- in defense of the frontier town of Heaven.
Seriously, I’m trying to come up with some other way to describe Morningstar, something that will make a little more sense, but I’m not having any luck. All I can tell you is that as bizarre as it sounds, the damn thing works.
Far from just being the idea man behind Morningstar, Gerimi Burleigh has tackled every aspect of his self-published work. He’s given the legendary archangels individual personalities, each drawing a parallel to characters you’d find in a typical Western yarn. Of course, Uriel would be the burly mountain man, wading into a gunfight with a quadruple barrel shotgun before taking over the Gatling gun. Raphael is the youngster determined to stand his ground against the odds when his true calling is that of a healer. Michael is the ever faithful, willing to trust everything to his brothers and sisters, and to sacrifice himself if he needs to. The only step away from the typical Western story Burleigh has taken is that he’s made sure that his reader never forgets that these are angels first and foremost, and they are in a constant struggle against the daemons who want to devour everything in their path.
Stepping up to the drawing board, Gerimi Burleigh has also given the angelic host physical representations in keeping with their Western roots. His characters look like they’ve stepped straight out of Tombstone, the notable exception being that the good folk of Heaven all have wings. For his story’s “black hats”, Burleigh has also left no doubt that it isn’t ordinary bandits plaguing the town of Heaven. The daemons he’s created look the part, larger than life- no joke, wait till you see one beheading a cow with one swipe of its claws- and mad as… well, mad as Hell, I guess.
Like most good Westerns, it’s in the action that defines the struggle of good vs evil, and in that respect Burleigh has done a great job. The action of close combat between archangels and daemons is fast and furious, and Burleigh doesn’t waste any time getting his readers into it. Six-shooter and saber versus tooth and claw, he’s able to convey the intensity and the flow from panel to panel. It’s a visual medium that doesn’t benefit from special effects and cinematography, but Burleigh still shows a pretty solid grasp of action choreography.
As for Heaven itself, Burleigh has turned the Kingdom into a town pulled right out of the Old West. Everything you’d expect is there, right down to the single room school building- cuz even angelic kids need to learn their ABC’s- and, of course, the town church. The overall affect is an odd juxtaposition of the ordinary overlaid with the fantastic, where winged folk go about their daily lives, running the general store and the like. Interestingly enough, angel kids still have mishaps that result in skinned knees and even broken bones, while their parents fret and reprimand them for climbing trees and playing around the town well.
There’s just something about this odd indie title that gets me. I love Westerns. I love action. Finally, I really like a story that takes chances, that gives readers a chance to see a different perspective on events leading up to things we may already know. We all know that Lucifer kicks off the Civil War and splits the forces of Heaven down the middle. What’s more interesting to me is how Gerimi Burleigh’s version of things might lead the archangel to that point.