Review: Freak Angels
Freak Angels is Warren Ellis’ latest effort to play with the format of comics. His done this sort of thing quite successfully in the past, particularly with Fell, a comic designed to be more affordable by making the story denser. This time around the experiment is to produce a 6-page weekly webcomic that will read equally well in those small chunks as it will in a collected edition.
From the structural standpoint the book is a huge success. The story largely accomplishes this task by switching between the dozen or so lead characters every few pages. The characters are all strong and unique enough (although many are fairly typical for an Ellis book) to support this sort of narrative whiplash without losing the reader.
The story itself isn’t bad either, although very little happens in this first collection. Due to the nature of the story the first volume is almost entirely given over to introductory material, and there’s a lot of it to get through. Besides all the characters (many of whom have to be established as having psychic powers or advanced engineering skills) there’s a fairly complex world to introduce. To paraphrase the series blurb, the book is about what happens 6 years after the world ended. Ellis does all this work almost seemlessly, but the book does end feeling like the story is just getting under way. Fortunately if you’re impatient for volume 2, there is the webcomic.