Split the difference
released OUT NOW! Publisher IdW Publishing
Writer William Gibson Artist Butch Guice
After years of lurking on the fringes of the genre, cyberpunk creator William Gibson is continuing his return to full-on sci-fi. Following up his 2014 novel The Peripheral, Archangel sees Gibson making his first entry into the world of comics, bringing us a five-issue SF thriller that deals in time travel and multiple realities.
The story starts in a dystopian version of 2016 where the corrupt US Vice President Junior Henderson uses a device known as the “Splitter” to create an alternate timeline from 1945 onwards. Henderson infiltrates the alternate timeline in 1945, aiming to sculpt 20th century history to his own whims – but a group of rebel soldiers from 2016 are on his trail and trying to stop him…
Three issues in, Archangel is an action thriller that leans heavily into pulpy ’40s intrigue, showcasing crisp dialogue and gnarly SF concepts. The art from Butch Guice is well-crafted and atmospheric, pulling off vivid moments of action, and if these three issues were the opening to an ongoing series, they’d be an intriguing if occasionally unfocused start.
As a self-contained miniseries, however, things are different – we’re past the halfway point, and despite an attention-grabbing central concept, Gibson’s script struggles to make the characters register. The pacing is also rather haphazard, and it feels like too much story is being crammed into too small a space. Archangel had the potential to be genuinely fascinating, but the end result plays more like a choppy, abridged version of a screenplay than a satisfying story in its own right. Saxon Bullock
Archangel was originally created by Gibson and actor/writer Michael St John Smith as a potential TV series.
Showcases crisp dialogue and gnarly SF concepts
He didn’t take kindly to delayed flights.