Wednesday, November 18, 2015

YALSA top ten GNs 2013: A Flight of Angels

A Flight of Angels
Conceived and illustrated by Rebecca Guay. Written by Holly Black, Bill Willingham, Alisa Kwitney, Louise Hawes, and Todd Mitchell.
Published by Vertigo (2011)

Rebecca Guay is an artist who I mostly know from her Magic: The Gathering cards. Her cards have a pretty specific style, and it's one that I enjoy.

Despite this, I don't think I've ever read any of her comic work. In fact, I had no idea she even had comic work until just now when I looked it up. And while seeing that she drew the Black Orchid Vertigo series doesn't really surprise me, it did seem a bit strange that she drew a Green Lantern comic (though that specific Green Lantern comic seems like it might fit her style fairly well).

While it seems obvious now, I had not expected A Flight of Angels to feel like a throwback to the earlyish days of Vertigo.  For a long time Vertigo (the imprint that published this comic) was best known for Sandman and Sandman like things (e.g. fantasy stuff about stories). This was no doubt helped by the fact that Sandman was their biggest seller, Neil Gaiman has a huge following, and that after Sandman ended there were a plethora of spinoff series such as The Dreaming, Lucifer, and so forth. But at the time Vertigo also put out a lot of (at least vaguely) similar titles, to various degrees of success. Eventually Vertigo shed this perception, and now they're known for...uhm, I dunno. Publishing lots of different stuff that doesn't sell that well?

A Flight of Angels is a series of short stories about angels in various settings, with a framing sequence set in some vague fantasy world. There are angels in the garden of Eden, angels in modern day cities, angels in a fairytale version of olden days Russia, angels in Victorian England, and angels in Heaven. For the most part I didn't care. The stories range from "that was pretty okay" to "I forgot that was even in this book".

However, I suppose the stories aren't really the main selling point here, that would be the Guay's art. It is not my favourite comic book art ever, but at the same time I can see it being the favourite of someone else. All of the art in this volume is painted by Guay, and she changes styles between the various stories. Each style manages to effectively capture the feel of the story it's illustrating. Some of the individual panels are also really nice, but for whatever reason they didn't really stick in my memory.

One final complaint: the lettering in the story set in Russia features Cyrllic characters used instead of English language ones. I find this annoying (mostly because I actually know the Cyrllic alphabet). This story also used other...questionable fonts, which surprised me considering the book was lettered by Todd Klein, but I guess everyone has off days.

If you like the sort of Vertigo fantasy stuff I mentioned earlier, you would probably enjoy this book. I didn't. That's not to say I don't enjoy Vertigo fantasy stuff. I loved Sandman, and it's one of the reasons I still read and love comics. But I could never get into most of the spinoffs and related titles, and A Flight of Angels seems as though it could easily be one of the ones I didn't enjoy.

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