Monday, April 25, 2011

ANGELA/GLORY #1 - March 1996

Rage of Angels

Credits: Rob Liefeld & Robert Napton (story), Robert Napton (script), Roger Cruz (pencils), Danny Miki w/Alan Martinez & Kyle Roberts (inks), Christian Lichtner & Extreme Color (colors), Kurt Hathaway (letters)

Summary: The angel Astra recovers Celestine’s heart and uses forbidden technology to revive her. Celestine returns to life insane, recruiting an army of rogue angels and destroying the Elysium. On Earth, she uses her powers to brainwash the Amazonians on the Isle of Paradise into joining her. Lady Demeter asks her daughter Glory for help. On the Isle, Glory encounters Angela, who’s hunting Celestine. They unite to defeat Celestine, but Glory is reluctant to harm her sisters. She summons a cleansing storm to counteract Celestine’s influence. Celestine flees, but reemerges on the angels’ orbital satellite and kills its crew.

Spawntinuity: Celestine first appeared in the Violator Vs. Badrock miniseries (written by Alan Moore, as a footnote in this issue reminds us), which ended with Violator ripping her heart out. Angela is hunting Celestine as a favor to Metatron, “ruler of all angels,” who has been willing to ignore Angela’s freelance work.

Gimmicks: Rob Liefeld provided an alternate cover for the book.

Review: Oh, yeah…Todd McFarlane did loan Angela out to Rob Liefeld, didn’t he? Only in the days of early Image would you have Rob Liefeld plotting a story that incorporates the works of Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, and Grant Morrison, starring a heroine flagrantly lifted from Wonder Woman’s origin story. If I’m not mistaken, this was Angela’s first appearance not written by Neil Gaiman. Luckily, the comic happened to be published during Roger Cruz’s short association with Extreme Studios, so there isn’t a hideous Liefeld clone in sight. Cruz is still working in the style you might remember from X-Men Alpha, which is short on originality but is at least tolerable.

Cruz’s main fault here is his insane reliance on awkwardly inserted cheesecake. Not only are dramatic statements declared while the “camera” focuses on the speaker’s butt cheeks, not only does every female character proudly wear a thong, but the army of murdered angels have a bad habit of lying prone, smugly displaying those thongs to any reader interested in checking out dead chicks. Cruz is still oddly appropriate for the book, given that his look at this time is an amalgam of Jim Lee, Joe Mad, and J. Scott Campbell. All of those guys have Arthur Adams in common, who was one of McFarlane’s dominant influences for years. Although the Spawn series doesn’t have this particular “cartoon” style at this point, Cruz’s look fits the McFarlane-designed characters. I wonder now how the Spawn series would’ve turned out if McFarlane had hired Cruz away from Marvel in the mid-‘90s.

I’ve never read a Glory comic before, but it seems as if the story brings together her mini-universe with Angela’s in a plausible way. As much as there is continuity in the Image Universe, it’s used well. (I’m not sure if McFarlane ever even read this storyline; it’s kind of ridiculous that the destruction of “Heaven” was never mentioned in Spawn.) Angela doesn’t care that much if her former angel friends are getting massacred, but she feels she owes a favor to Metatron. This would also allow her to test her strength against Celestine, which matches Gaiman’s original characterization. Glory doesn’t want to kill her Amazonian sisters, which Angela finds laughable, but of course she finds a better way in the end. The cliffhanger is a nice surprise, as the angelic satellite from Morrison’s Spawn run has been criminally underused since its debut. Unfortunately, this one-shot is merely a prelude to a “Rage of Angels” crossover. Check out Youngblood #6, Team Youngblood #21, Glory #10, and something called Maximage #4 for the rest of the story, before returning for the second Angela/Glory team-up special. Or don’t. I think I’ll risk missing them.

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