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Graphic Novels Reviews

FreakAngels Volume 1

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artists: Paul Duffield
Publisher: Avatar Press
Three Stars

Satyajit Chetri May 20, 2009

The FreakAngels are twelve strange children who were born at the exactly the same moment twenty-three years ago. Strange, because apparently all of them have different powers, telepathy being a common trait of these kids, which served them in good stead when the world ended 6 years ago, and together, all but one of them maintain the semblance of a civilisation among the survivors in Whitechapel, London. (The whys and wherefores of the twelfth, Mark is a key point as the story progresses.)

When it comes to hard SF in comics, Warren Ellis knows the score. FreakAngels is an ongoing web-comic by the writer who brought us memorable sci-fi tracts like Transmetropolitan and Orbiter. The first arc of the series, done in collaboration with artist Paul Duffield has been given a traditional print treatment by Avatar press. The first thing that hits you when you open the 145-page collection is the gorgeous artwork ”“ not cartoonish, not superhero-esque, Paul Duffield’s art straddles the line between a detail-ridden traditional illustrative style and the immediacy of a web-comic. Duffield’s computer colouring adds the depth of an animated film to a book that’s otherwise filled with static talking-heads and occasional bursts of action. Yes, Ellis takes us languorously through his end-of-the-world narrative, taking his own sweet time to tell his story, but that is to be expected in a medium that is free of editorial or spatial constraints. His characters are reminiscent of his earlier works ”“ in particular the female leads, all of whom are tough-as-nails, fast-talking, no-nonsense individuals who party hard and kick butt harder. But the greatest feat the story manages to pull off is to create a post-apocalyptic world that stays away from the usual dystopian clichés. The end of the world was never this beautiful.

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