Pullbox Reviews: Archangel 8 – A new addition to a very violent pantheon…

In a world beyond the sight of mortals, Heaven and Hell wage war for the souls of mankind. Principal among god’s legion are seven archangels written about in religious texts for millennia. But there is an eighth archangel, known only from passing allusions in Apocrypha, who operates under a different code. Fighting without god’s sanction, he faces the enemy on his own terms, and shows just how bad good can be.

Dark & brooding first person voiceover? Check.

Dark & brooding artwork? Check.

Dark & brooding look at the seedier side of the Heavenly host? Double check.

This is the first title from AWA Studios that I’ve taken a look at after it was recommended to me by the guy who runs my LCS (thanks, Keith!). As far as stories about questionably good guys doing unquestionably bad things in the name of the Almighty, apparently without His knowledge or consent, the opening issue shows promise. “8” is the requisite hard case who knows that although he works for the angels, he isn’t really like the rest of them. He takes his assignments from Gabriel (anyone else seeing Idris Elba here?), as tough a boss as there has been since the dawn of time, literally and without question. Once on the job, he executes his assignment without hesitation or remorse. His current task has 8 heading into the Ozarks, and his target has him wondering… how far does a person have to fall before winding up in his crosshairs?

There are going to be obvious and unavoidable comparisons between Archangel 8 & Garth Ennis’s run on The Punisher. Moreci himself admits, that defining run was a major inspiration for his work here, however he should have plenty of room to set his story apart. I kinda like the gritty, grimy setting that serves as some unlikely angelic stomping grounds. The opening scene, something that had me thinking of Apocalypse Now as 8 considers his status in the Grand Scheme, rolls right into a crowded gambling den featuring a live dog fight where Gabriel hands him his assignment packet. It’s all just about as uncomfortable an opening for a series as I’ve ever read, and it serves its purpose beautifully. 8 isn’t a “good guy”. He’s very much aware of his role, even though at times he doesn’t seem totally comfortable in it.

The artwork by C. P. Smith, with colors by Snakebite Cortez, is going to draw even more Punisher comparisons as it immediately made me think of Tim Bradstreet’s work. But to me it came across more as a reflection of the tone and attitude of the story being told rather than any kind of imitation. Sun drenched cityscapes with spotless streets & gleaming skyscrapers just wouldn’t work for a story like Archangel 8, which almost has to lean toward a specific visual aesthetic. Smith’s work establishes that this world of angels and demons isn’t a pretty place, while Cortez’s final touches puts hammer to nail and drives that home.

The lettering by Sal Cipriano is just about as no frills as you can get. It works to reinforce the Spartan world 8 lives in, so much that you can almost hear the monotone, dead inside nature of the “voiceover”. The only area that I might’ve liked to see some flourish would have been in the sound effects, which were limited to the issue’s main action piece. The standard “BUDDA BUDDA BUDDA” of automatic gunfire & the “BLAM” of a shotgun might have been where Cipriano could have flexed a bit… maybe some color to the lettering instead of a plain white, or an attempt to work it into the action. That’s me. I mean, it all works, I just like my violence to have a little more POP.

Archangel 8 is the kind of title I want to follow, to see where it goes and if it can live up to its promise. There is a lot of room to grow, to fill in the dark world introduced in its opening issue. Hopefully it turns out to be more than another comic with an anti-hero who likes to shoot stuff. Likewise, AMA Studios is a publisher that I’m going to be watching, to see where they go from here.

Final Score: 9

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