By Oliver Gerlach
Knights of the Golden Sun #1 is a biblical epic that goes far beyond any biblical epic I’ve read before. It’s really quite something, in the most delightfully over-the-top way possible. Mark London and Mauricio Villareal have created a truly ridiculous and beautiful book here, filled with levels of melodrama that make even the most dramatic anime look bland. It’s not what I was expecting.
Thus far, Knights of the Golden Sun appears to be the Old Testament rewritten to focus on a war between angels. By the end of the first issue, it’s clear that this is going to be bigger and more insane than that, but that’s the core of the first issue. What makes this so much fun, though, is the angels. They’re big, they’re shiny, they’ve got glowing eyes, and every single one of them is an excessively pretty, long-haired anime villain caricature. They’re gloriously dramatic; it’s like having a core cast entirely made of different variants of Alucard from Castlevania. All of my comparisons to anime melodrama here may sound somewhat negative, but they really aren’t intended to. This is big and silly and full of swooshy hair and angst, and I love it. It’s a comic that understands my preferred aesthetic for angels: they should all feel roughly like David Bowie on a really good day.
As well as being magnificently dramatic, Knights of the Golden Sun also manages to be an unusually attractive comic. I’m not usually a fan of the overly rendered smooth style that Villareal uses here, but he manages to make it work well, and it fits the aesthetics of his angels very effectively. Everything is softly coloured in a weirdly dreamlike style, and the overall look is very impressive. The backgrounds in particular give a strong sense of place, as well as being excellent backdrops for angels to yell at each other in front of. Villareal’s use of glowing light effects might be a little bit excessive, but in context that’s fine; this is a comic that does everything to excess.
Also working in the favour of Knights of the Golden Sun is its status as an indie comic with a dedicated professional letterer; this isn’t something that should be particularly praiseworthy, but bad lettering takes me out of the story when I’m reading indies far more often than I’d like. This is very professionally put together, and Ospina’s borderless balloons fit very nicely into Villareal’s style. It’s a little reminiscent of Piekos and Ferreyra on Green Arrow, which is an unusual combination that I like a lot and I’m pleased to see more similar aesthetics.
Overall, then, this is a bombastic and ridiculous reimagining of the Old Testament. It’s very pretty, it’s great fun, and it has the glammest and most anime angels possible. Highly recommended; it’s a very good time, particularly if you like silly high drama.
Knights of the Golden Sun #1
Writer: Mark London
Artist: Mauricio Villareal
Letterer: Christian Ospina
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios