Tony Black reviews Archangel #2…
A military pilot from a radioactive, alternate future has arrived in Berlin 1945, and the corrupt officials from his world want him stopped. Though he won’t reveal the details of his mission, he’s made one thing clear: our entire reality is at stake.
At the back of the second issue of Archangel, William Gibson talks about ‘the weird war’, his experiences of first discovering what World War Two meant as a child, and later all of the occult theories and conspiracies surrounding it, which often are just as interesting as the real thing. Gibson, along with Matthew St. John Smith, port more of the science-fiction angle into the story as plot begins kicking in, primarily through the Pilot who very much begins his mission here of stopping Junior Henderson, with his proto-Trump hair and smarmy bullying nature, from changing the past he has ‘split’ away from the present. Gibson begins here putting more complications and story elements into place in 1945 Berlin, while adding the present day satirical, dystopian context to the themes of the story.
It’s all visible in the preamble talking about what happened in the first issue, in the quite overt dig at the politicians of 2016 and how they have destroyed a future full of promise after WW2, and it’s interesting how the Pilot seems to suggest to erstwhile heroine Naomi that the bomb being dropped on Hiroshima was a direct result of the ‘fork’ in the road between their future and this past. There’s some nice underlying commentary in the writing, even if this is largely a historical, sci-fi thriller, which nicely blends future tech with old fashioned surroundings.
Take the Pilot with his invisible cloaking suit running around wartime Berlin, and the lurching future henchmen chasing him. You also have Naomi caught in the position of Junior applying pressure on her to stop protecting the Pilot, and even more so on Vince, who really has to make a choice here as to whether he’s going to help Naomi figure out what’s actually happening, or be loyal to what he thinks to be his righteous US military (even if they’re anything but).
With more tight but attractive artwork by Bruce Guice, the second issue of Archangel continues putting the establishing pieces in place and while not a great deal happens in terms of revelation or forward momentum, it still has plenty of action and suspense within the narrative as these characters swirl further down the rabbit hole, both in 2016 and 1945, for the story to hold your interest. Next issue looks like a turning point that could deliver some wartime glamour, and that should add some extra spice to a limited series that continues to entertain.
Tony Black is a freelance film/TV writer & podcaster & would love you to follow him on Twitter.