Why? Why? Why? It’s the enduring refrain of a child eager to learn about the world and understand how things came to be. We’ve all been that child, deciding we’re ready to finally be entrusted with the Earth’s secrets. But so often we are ignored, silenced, and told to stop questioning. “Why” becomes a dirty word. Don’t question authority. We don’t need to know why, we just need to do what we’re told.
In Image Comics’ new series Angelic, from Simon Spurrier and Caspar Wijngaard (with letters by Jim Campbell and designs by Emma Price), the world is entirely different than the one we know. Humans are long gone, and genetically modified monkeys fly through the air. Gibbons can attack with sound waves. Dolphins zoom through the air with rockets, hunting monkeys for sport. And one young monk just wants to know why. Why everything.
Qora is young, but she’s just reached maturity. She wants to join her fellow monkeys in the Scrap Pack, defending the Roost from nasty dolphin invaders — but girlmonks aren’t allowed in the Scrap Pack. Females are required to worship the Makers (three times a day!) and become wives and mothers. Even in a post-apocalyptic techno-future, women are still subjugated. But Qora questions everything. Why are there only boymonks in the Scrap Pack? Why do they worship the Makers this way, and this often? What does it mean? What are they all here for?
As you may expect, anyone questioning the dominant ideology gets into a bit of a mess, and it’s true for Qora. But that mess ends up opening a whole new avenue of exploration for her. She has so much to learn about this world and what’s really going on — and we the readers get to follow along with her.
The worldbuilding in Angelic is tremendous. Spurrier works wonders with simple changes in vocabulary while Wijngaard brings these genetically modified creatures to life with strong, thick lines. Wijngaard’s backgrounds are detailed but simple; they give enough information about the setting and what happened on this world without being overwhelming or taking away from the action. He does great work with the action, too, creating real movement and energy with the line and color work. The two-page spread of rocket-powered dolphins on the hunt above a crumbling city is particularly stunning. The color palette is all pastel blues and purples — not what we typically expect from a post-apocalyptic story, which really works to make this world feel futuristic and strange.
As much as Angelic is about questioning authority and history in a post-apocalyptic world, it’s also full of humor. It kind of has to be, with flying monkeys and rocket-powered dolphins who sound like they’re in a Oscar Wilde play. Qora herself is a delight, egging on her elders with questions again and again, like every annoying kid who’s asked “Are we there yet?” It’s got action, jokes, and a moral compass that points towards healthy skepticism and questioning authority. It’s an entertaining read for adults and kids alike. Anyone who has a little adventure in them should read it.