By Dustin Cabeal
My reviews today so far have consisted of an indie superhero book, a southern story about witches and now a religiously themed book starring monkeys. I’m pointing this out because all three things are comics I typically avoid, but none more than monkeys. If you’ve ever listened to the CBMFP (RIP), then you know that any story involving monkeys and submarines are an instant pass from me. If you were to put monkeys on a submarine, I wouldn’t even say the title of your comic and lose all respect for you as a creator. I would rather stop reading comics than to read about monkeys on a submarine.
Which is crazy because there’s monkey’s in this book, but then also some submarine type vehicles. It would be Simon Spurrier that would get me to go back on a crazy declaration like the one above, but so far so good.
The world is strange and difficult to describe. There’s a lot of future techs all over, but there are no humans using it. By and large, the world seems devoid of human life. Then some flying dolphins find the tribe of monkeys and begin attacking them. The Dolphins talk, and it’s strange because they use complex words, but still, construct their sentences as if it weren’t their native tongue. In this battle, we’re introduced to Qora, a female flying monkey that’s attempting to fight with the men. We’re quick to learn that the men and women in this monkey society have very different roles. No surprises, the men do pretty much nothing outside of fighting, and the women do everything else.
Qora is different though. She questions the religion that dictates all of their rules and governs their society. We see example after example of her questioning everything about their daily life until the leader answers one of her “whys.” We’re then introduced to the breeding process for the tribe, and while I won’t go into details, it’s a bit humiliating for the women. It leaves Qora scared, so much so that she flies off to be alone only to encounter danger.
What’s interesting about the religion that Spurrier has created with the damn dirty apes, is that it doesn’t seem to be pulling from just one blueprint. It seems to be an overall statement about religions in general, but without the specifics, it’s hard to imagine most people getting too bent out of shape. Fuck, who am I kidding, people will, but from my perspective, I think he believably presented the religion. He doesn’t outright say, “this shit is bad, and this is why ” but rather just presents pros and cons and lets the characters decide which then influences the reader. And no religion has ever done that right?
The dialogue is what fascinated me the most while reading it. The language was still very new to these monkeys and dolphins to the point that it seemed like they were repeating what was taught to them by a trainer. Specifically, if you’ve ever seen that dolphin study in which they use a keyboard to communicate, it’s eerily similar to that. There is one other advanced creature that’s introduced and Spurrier nails the dialogue; it’s so perfect in the way that he executes it that I wish I could spoil it for you. It was also interesting to see that not all of the animals in the world were advanced, including other types of apes. We’ll see how that plays out, but it added layers to the world.
Accompanying the story and bringing it all to life is Caspar Wijngaard, who’s artwork is the reason I even tried to read this story. Again, I’m not a fan of monkeys in stories. I like them in real life, but I could give two shits about stories involving them. Wijngaard’s artwork is striking and beautiful to look at. You don’t want to look away because it’s that gorgeous. It’s also incredibly detailed. Each panel is treated as its own canvas with zero shortcuts taken. The coloring (which as much as I could tell is also done by Wijngaard) adds personality and flair to the story. The Easter pastels look beautiful, but then also unite the entire world. For me, the coloring sealed the deal on this comic.
Even though I hate stories about monkeys, I still give them a chance. Over and over and over, I still do. Because at the end of the day, you never know when you’re going to stumble across something like Angelic that ends up being incredible, different and gorgeous to look at. That goes for the other two books that I mentioned in the beginning, I may not love the genres or the setting, but I’ll still give them a try because you don’t know until you read it yourself.
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Caspar Wijngaard
Publisher: Image Comics