ANGELIC Vol.1 by Simon Spurrier and Caspar Wijngaard
In ANGELIC Vol. 1, writer Simon Spurrier and artist Caspar Wijngaard create a post-apocalyptic world that is equal parts adorable and horrifying. Its gorgeous art and compelling lore will draw in sci-fans of all ages.
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In ANGELIC Vol. 1, writer Simon Spurrier and artist Caspar Wijngaard create a post-apocalyptic world, equal parts endearing and disturbing. Collecting the first six issues of the series, ANGELIC Vol. 1 features a plucky protagonist and extensive worldbuilding that will appeal to sci-fi fans old and new alike. Behind its sweet exterior, the series boldly addresses sober themes such as gender violence.

Courtesy of Image Comics

Sci-Fi For the Femme Gaze

ANGELIC Vol. 1 presents substance beyond its cute pastel facade. Any reader can enjoy the story and art. However, the series is special in how it embraces femininity in a way that isn’t pandering. ANGELIC Vol. 1 pulls this off by creating a female lead who is complex and compelling. She also faces obstacles that young girls will relate to.

We follow a winged monkey named Qora who struggles to conform to the strict mores of her tribe. Qora would much rather be a warrior than pray all day for “the Makers” to return. However, because she is a “girlmonk,” Qora will soon be forced to marry the tribe’s pious leader, Alfer. Even worse, the tribe will take Qora’s wings from her during this mating process. Right when Qora begins to search for an out, she’s given an offer she can’t refuse. If she can help the sea creatures restore their god “Ay” to full power, she might just escape her fate.

Courtesy of Image Comics

Qora makes for an excellent lead — she’s relatable but also fallible, not to mention adorable. Her flaws help reject the simple binary thinking that can plague content created for younger audiences. In fact, although Alfer is pretty loathsome, most of the characters in ANGELIC Vol. 1 are neither good nor bad. Given their context, the characters’ actions make sense. There really is no cruel supervillain in this post-apocalyptic world. As Qora puts so eloquently, it’s easy to lose track of “who’s goodest and who’s poopest.” Spurrier trusts that even his younger readers are mature enough to handle the moral ambiguity that permeates ANGELIC Vol. 1

An All-Ages Apocalypse in ANGELIC #6

A Pastel Apocalypse

In ANGELIC Vol. 1, Wijngaard achieves a delicate balance between inviting and troubling imagery. The comic greets readers with pastel pages full of adorable multi-colored animals. However, these animals have a high potential for destruction — seeing a humpback whale destroy a skyscraper is undeniably startling. ANGELIC Vol. 1 not only builds in terms of violence but also presents a bit of body horror as the series progresses. Furthermore, from the foliage-covered buildings to the hermit crabs with human skulls for shells, the art serves as a constant reminder that something terrible has taken place.

The gorgeous art of ANGELIC Vol. 1 is just one element that contributes to the exceptional world-building. The unique speech patterns that Spurrier gives each species further our immersion into this world. Although the series can get a little bit lore-dumpy towards the middle, the dynamic between Qora and her unlikely companion is enough to keep the comic moving along. 

The world of ANGELIC Vol. 1 isn’t quite as imaginative as the one built by Spurrier in THE SPIRE. But it doesn’t need to be. ANGELIC Vol. 1 succeeds in how it bridges the gap between new sci-fi fans and old. Spurrier and Wijngaard achieve this by creating a world that is appealing to all on the surface, but also well-conceived. Still, genre veterans will quickly catch on to what’s happening in this universe — a post-apocalyptic world devoid of humans where the sea animals revere a powerful “god” named Ay, who is missing his “eye”? You get the picture.

Courtesy of Image Comics

A Graceful Take on Sexual Trauma

So, how do you address sexual violence in a comic that’s geared towards teens? How do you avoid graphic imagery without omitting the trauma faced by the characters? Finally, how do you create a story that will empower, not trigger, survivors? ANGELIC Vol. 1 tackles sexual violence in a way that is graceful instead of graphic.

Early in the comic, we find out that Qora will undergo a mating ritual in which her wings will be cut off of her back. This serves as not only another physical violation of Qora but also as a metaphor for sexual assault itself. Without fixating on the violence of this act, we get a sense of how traumatizing this ritual must be and why Qora is willing to do anything to escape this future. This metaphor will also help younger readers to understand what is happening without having to delve into specifics if they are not ready for that conversation.

Qora finds the future that awaits her unacceptable, but she cannot conceive a universe in which an alternative exists. This sets up a realistic scenario in which Qora would aid her tribe’s sworn enemies.

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Final Thoughts on ANGELIC Vol. 1

Overall, ANGELIC Vol. 1 serves up the best of the best in terms of writing, art, and coloring. All this, plus a feminist bow on top.

ANGELIC Vol. 1 welcomes readers new to sci-fi, while also winking at genre veterans with its wordplay. The series introduces a rich world that Spurrier and Wijngaard can endlessly expand upon. The narrative in ANGELIC Vol. 1 wraps up pretty nicely. Still, there is definitely room for a second volume given the possibilities that await the readers in the Tox. Without a doubt, readers will demand more of Qora and this exceptional team of creators.

ANGELIC Vol. 1 is available now. You can purchase it here.

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