Rush is one of those bands that never really resonated with me. I like some other progressive stuff like Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and heavier, more modern bands like Dream Theater-but quite frankly, I’d rather shove icepicks in my ears than listen to Geddy Lee’s voice for an album’s duration. That said, they’re an incredibly talented both instrumentally and lyrically. So it’s no surprise to me that their latest album has been adapted into a novel, and now a comic book. I can say as being not a fan of the band’s music that you don’t need to know anything about Rush to enjoy this first issue of Clockwork Angels.
The story starts out with an old man named Owen sitting on a park bench, writing his own memoirs. While Owen’s grandson Alain is playing with some friends, Alain asks Owen if he can tell him a story. Owen says that his stories are for everyone as long as you’re willing to listen. At that point though, Alain’s friends are getting impatient and Alain goes back to them while Owen is left to reminisce about his past life.
We’re then brought back to Owen’s life when he was a young man. He hopes to adventure and see what’s outside his city (Albion) like the watchmaker, Crown City, the Alchemy College, and the Clockwork Angels. But everyone else seems to just blindly trust the watchmaker, including Owen’s fiancé Lavinia. Everyone around Owen always says that the watchmaker’s plan is “for the best.” Nobody seems to question it and has their lives planned down to the minute. By the watchmaker controlling time, he has immense power being that time is perhaps the most valuable thing in life. Owen tells Lavinia to meet him at midnight to have a kiss in the moonlight and watch the late-night steamliner heading toward Crown City. Lavinia doesn’t seem too keen on the idea, and Owen walks home frustrated but still seems to be hopeful.
Although most of the people in Albion are very complacent and have no problem with following the life the watchmaker wants them to lead, there is an anarchist running amok. This time, he planted a bomb and disrupted steamliner traffic. Basically, he seems to be a cog in the watchmaker’s wheel and is blatantly trying to disrupt the safe cushiony life of the people in Albion. Owen ends up going to where the steamliner is, but what he finds there is certainly more extraordinary than what he originally planned.
The art in this book is really gorgeous. Apparently, Nick Robles is a newcomer so hopefully a lot of people will discover his art through this book, because I’m already a fan. The whole steampunk thing is very hackneyed at this point, but the art is so good in this book that I overlooked that fact completely. At some points the fantasy elements were so intriguing and drawn so well that they reminded me of something that could be part of a Disney movie. You also get a good grasp on the different characters’ personalities like the extreme curiosity of Owen and the no-nonsense demeanor of Lavinia through the great work on facial expressions. Just the art on the setting alone was enough to draw me in to this book, and I was enthralled the whole way through.
If you’re a fan of fantasy, steampunk, or just great art and storytelling (which is why you read comics, isn’t it?), check this book out. Sure, there’s some Rush references like the cover reading 9:12 (21:12) in military time, but as I said you need no knowledge on the band to enjoy this great story.
Writer: Kevin J. Anderson (from a story and lyrics by Neil Peart)
Artist: Nick Robles
Publisher: Boom Studios
Release Date: 3/19/14