Tony Black reviews Archangel #3…
Mr. Baby–a bizarre looking, dangerous man–is the sole survivor of Berlin’s prewar nightlife. Play by his rules, and he can get you anything, but he’s not one to be crossed. A hard lesson for our inter-dimensional pilot… and the corrupt officials from his world who want him dead.
It’s taken a while for the third part of William Gibson’s much anticipated foray into the comic book world to get here, and at the back of Archangel we see Gibson pontificate on just how much he underestimated the nuances and subtleties of the form, used as he is to writing novels and enjoying other forms of media. Midway through the narrative he’s constructing of World War Two intrigue, time travel and alternate realities, we find ourselves perhaps aware of this statement as readers because Gibson doesn’t quite make this issue click – it’s filled with incident, but it lacks real substance or depth compared to the previous two.
Truthfully it may rest better in the middle of a single graphic novel when Archangel is collected in trade, because it’s all necessary grist for the plot mill – Naomi continues dancing around Russian intelligence officers as she tracks down the Pilot, with the fear of the rumoured atomic bomb in the fray, while the sinister Junior continues zeroing in on his target. All this revolves around a particular club in Berlin ran by the baby-faced German gangster Herr Saugling, and Gibson does manage to litter particularly his lines with a cold panache which punch up the dialogue. In the end however, the writer builds to an action packed last half of the issue, very well drawn by Bruce Guice – a massive nightclub gun battle leading to a chase through Berlin streets, introducing a powerful new female adversary in the mix. It’s violent and ups the stakes.
Nonetheless, Archangel at this point needs the previous elements of story to prop it up, and the subsequent chapters to add the next steps, because on its own its wanting. Well drawn, and Gibson’s writing is sharp, it just lacks power and depth. Confident however the next issue will add more necessary shades to get this story back on track.