Vertigo comics have a reputation of churning out the artistic, avant-garde fair of DC’s line. The graphic novel “A Flight of Angels” fits quite well within that purview. In it, an angel falls to Earth in an enchanted forest and the magical inhabitants gather around to speculate as to who and what this heavenly apparition is. The concept of the book and its lavish artwork is all the product of artist, Rebecca Guay. Each segment within, however, is written by a different writer from the science fiction and comic genres, including Holly Black (of Spiderwick fame), Bill Willingham (of Fables fame), Alisa Kwitney (former Vertigo editor), Louise Hawes, and Todd Mitchell. What’s amazing about this is that the stories these writers craft and funnel through the mouthpieces of the various characters range in both time and tradition. One takes the guise of a Russian Jewish folktale, another a modern, swank London club setting, others biblical reimaginings, and even a Jane Austen-esque love story. Accentuating the disparate story settings further, Guay who does all the artwork, switches up her art style and color palate for each different story, lending each a distinctive visual feeling to complement the different writing styles they accompany.
This graphic novel really is exquisite. Visually and literarily it is a masterpiece. The artwork exists both in tandem and independently of the narrative. If you enjoy the story you are reading then I guarantee that the artwork will just further envelope you in the tale. If you aren’t so much feeling the particular segment you are in, I guarantee that the artwork will carry you through it. Luckily, each writer is a master in his or her own right and the tales are top notch. As a whole it is a visual, narrative, and emotional smorgasbord portraying hope, then futile resignation, then sheer wonderment, and so on, right down to the very last pages.
This is one of those books that I think is best to be read on a blustery winters day or a lazy Sunday, when you’ve got the time and the freedom of mind to just take the ride with no preoccupations to distract you. It can be polished off in a couple of hours and take you out of the humdrum world of what is to that of what could be. I know that at some point I will have to get a copy for my personal collection, because the world created is one that I know I will yearn to return to again and again.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
A Flight of Angels: Artwork all by Rebecca Guay.