"No Angel #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Black Mask Studio
Written by Adrianne Palicki and Eric Palicki
Illustrated by Ari Syahrazad
Colored by Jean-Paul Csuka
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on June 28th, 2017
Hannah and Jessica have survived an encounter with a man literally made of spiders. You'd think that would be enough for them to get a break, especially since Jessica is an angel, complete with feathered wings. Their past comes back for one last attack that will test their familial bond and show what they're really made of.
The characterization of Hannah and Jessica is the driving force behind No Angel. Hannah is cold and jaded, having seen the horrors in the world. At long last we see what she went through in Baghdad while serving in the military. It's no wonder she feels this way. Contrast this with Jessica's innocence and naivete. Here is a person that doesn't have a mean bone in her body. She's not a Disney character or something like that. Instead, she's just pure, untarnished by the crappy things this planet can throw at you.
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Their relationship is touching as the two rub off on one another. Hannah softens a bit, now in the role of the big sister. Jessica doesn't become cynical or mean, but she stands up for herself and what she wants for perhaps the first time. She's not just being told what to do anymore. She's lived her whole life in fear and now she's put an end to that.
Much of this comes through in Ari Syahrazad's artwork. The dialogue doesn't have to say what they're thinking because you can see it right on their faces. Hannah has a look of frustrated responsibility as she gets used to her new sibling, while Jessica shows some edges as she realizes what's really out there in the world.
Syahrazad has some great cinematic shots in this issue too, especially leading up to the final confrontation between Hannah, Jessica, and Cord, the spider guy. As they're driving on the highway, Hannah glances in her rear view mirror to see Cord catching up to them. He's not changing course or moving much in his vehicle. Instead, his image is getting bigger and bigger as he closes in on them. The sequence reminded me a bit of Duel with this dark force of a car descending on the innocent drivers.
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My only real qualm with No Angel is the abrupt ending. This is the conclusion of the mini-series and it feels rushed. The women have defeated Cord once, and now he comes back like Jason Voorhees rising up for one last attack. They fight back in an incredible way that's as brutal as it is awesome. Seriously, Syahrazad draws the hell out of this sequence leading up to a full-page spread that is unbelievable. It's just that everything happens so fast and feels like an add-on to the story that's come so far, like this is the epilogue. It is less of a bang and more of a whimper.
No Angel is a strong, character-driven comic. It presents horror and monsters in a real-life fashion. You could forget at times that Jessica has angel wings or Cord is a human-shaped sack full of spiders. (I can't believe I just typed that phrase. That's comics, everybody!) Instead, you're pulled into their lives for this brief period and become so enthralled in their world, hoping and praying they make it out unscathed. At the bare minimum, this book will terrify anyone afraid of spiders. Holy shit, are there a lot of spiders.