While I remember the original “Dark Angel” series being published (with legal issues resulting in the book’s first title “Hell’s Angel” getting removed), and that Bryan Hitch worked on the book, I knew nothing about the character prior to reading “Revolutionary War: Dark Angel.” I appreciate the work that Kieron Gillen and Dietrich Smith put in for introducing Dark Angel to new readers like me, but at the end of the day this is a comic that probably is more entertaining if you were already a fan.
“Revolutionary War: Dark Angel” has Gillen spend a fair amount of time introducing the character to the readership; the deal with Mephisto that her father made, the things she has to do in order to pay off the debt, the fluctuating nature of her power levels. If this was the first issue of an all-new “Dark Angel” series, I would have been a little more impressed at how much back story was crammed into this comic because it presumably would be able to move forward from here unencumbered with all of that exposition. The problem, though, is that “Revolutionary War: Dark Angel” is a one-shot that’s part of the “Revolutionary War” eight-part event. The next issue focuses on “Knights of Pendragon” rather than following on directly from “Revolutionary War: Dark Angel.” As a result, it feels a little lacking.
By the time the main plot kicks in within “Revolutionary War: Dark Angel,” it feels like we’re already at the end of the issue. It doesn’t help that Dark Angel is a character who (when not giving us a tour of her life) is reacting rather than acting. It never feels quite like she’s taken charge of her own title, and when she finally does so, it’s in a manner that you almost certainly wouldn’t see coming. And while it feels like that might be the point, with Dark Angel not your typical hero, that doesn’t make it the most interesting of comics to read about. In the end, this is more of a nostalgia trip than an exciting re-introduction of a character that’s been in mothballs for quite some time.
Smith’s art is interesting; it’s very stringy and gangly, not a look that you often get in comics. Some pages are excellent, like the opening page with Dark Angel first waking up. It’s well paced, has some nice focus on the character as the proverbial camera moves around, that sort of thing. Every now and then Dark Angel comes across as very elongated, though, and when the backgrounds occasionally drop away the characters standing in a void feels very barren. It’s a trick that doesn’t quite succeed with Smith, here. I wouldn’t say no to more Smith art down the line, though; overall I like the look.
“Revolutionary War: Dark Angel” is a comic that I wanted to like based on the pedigree of the character as well as having Gillen attached to it. But if all of the remaining “Revolutionary War” one-shots are just going to serve as nostalgia tokens rather than engaging comics in their own right, it might not be a bad idea to just stop here. Hopefully that’s not the case, but at the moment I’m starting to feel like this is an event where I am not the target audience.