(BOOM! Studios, 2014)
Written by Kevin J. Anderson
From a story and lyrics by Neil Peart
Illustrated by Nick Robles
Lettering by Ed Dukeshire
A month has already passed, like the tick-tocking of the proverbial (and literal) clock; it’s time to return to Albion, the world dreamt up by Neil Peart of Rush fame. In the first issue we met Owen Hardy, the farm boy who decided to take his future in his hands and leave everything he knew and go to the city.
Clockwork Angels issue 2 shows us a wider view of Crown City, home of the Watchmaker, architect of all that is good in the world. (Or so he would have everyone believe.) It also begins to wrap its clockwork tendrils around Owen, pulling him inexorably into the strange workings. Owen is slowly finding his way and becoming the man he thinks he wants to be. The Watchmaker is on top of everything, including the interesting and ironic revelation that the mechanical world he manufactured is being run by an alchemical engine.
Clockwork Angels was a novel first, but who better to adapt it than the very man who wrote it, Mr. Kevin J. Anderson? (Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, Starjammers) Reading the comic would never lead you to believe that it was ever anything but. Anderson’s skill as an author has translated well into this different medium, and he writes characters that can be interesting in three hundred pages as well as in twenty-two, sometimes much less. The Watchmaker, so far the main antagonist in the story, only appears in a couple of pages in the first issue, and two more in this one. But the time Anderson devotes to such characters by no means denotes their importance. Despite his four or six pages in two issues, the Watchmaker is in the very fabric of this story, and as a master of disguise, there is no telling where he may be showing up without our knowledge.
Nick Robles has a very stylistic approach to the art for this book. I can see the influences of Adam Hughes in the way he draws people and in the painterly way he colors. This kind of art also lends itself to thinking about this book like a fairy tale, which it sort of is. There is a formula that goes with basic story telling, and specifically with the telling of fairy tales. A main character must go through a life-changing act, usually with a number (three) of stages, and is victorious in the end. (No tweets about the inaccuracy of this statement please, it’s been a couple of years since I took that fairy tale class. I know it’s more in depth than that but I’m just trying to make a point.)
This is a limited issue run, six issues in all, so there is a definitely winding down happening in the story. Crown City is running on a declining scale, with the anarchist sabotaging the mechanics and Owen just finding his stride. Kevin J. Anderson is comfortably in the comic medium, and Nick Robles has a find hand with fantasy illustration. Clockwork Angels is steampunk fantasy and fairy story telling in one beautiful package.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.