Witch Hunter Angela (Complete Series)

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I started following this comic book series on a whim.  The cover art was pretty, and when I flipped to a couple of random pages inside, I was surprised to find that the panel artwork was also appealing.  Since it’s rare for comic book art to interest me, I decided to give this series a shot, and I’m glad I did.

1602: Witch Hunter Angela” takes place during the Secret Wars storyline on Battleworld.  Angela and her companion Sera hunts witches, aka “witchbreed.”  They investigate a new threat called “Faustians,” and try to find the one responsible for them.  A threat is made against Sera, which looms over their heads for much of the series.

First, the art.  This series actually employs two art styles.  The dominant art style is kinda… softer, dreamy?  Like if A-Force and traditional comics look like something inked, then Angela looks like it was painted.  At times it’s a bit too dark/muddy, but most of the time it’s pretty.  The other art style is lighter and more cartoon-y, which when juxtaposed with the main art style made one particular scene/panel quite memorable.

Second comes the characters.  In short, I liked them.  Coming into the series, all I knew about Angela was that she was part angel and somehow related to Thor or Thor’s world/story.  I’d never heard of Sera, and I hadn’t read any works containing Angela or Sera.  With no prior experience to compare them to, I liked the way they were portrayed.  Angela came across as tough, competent, and maybe a little rigid, but not heartless.  Sera seems to be a 4th-wall breaker and comic relief, as well as being the heart and emotion of the duo.  I also liked the guest character appearances, even if they weren’t fleshed out that well.

That leads me to my next point: alternate universe fun-times.  I was tickled by some of the little puns, name switches, etc. that the series used to demonstrate the timeline and world it was dealing with.  For example, the Guardians of the Galaxy show up, but Groot wouldn’t have really fit this series, so the writers turned him into Goodman Root, a silent priest.  An iron maiden torture device makes an appearance, but the characters call it an “iron man,” and it resembles – you guessed it – Iron Man’s old armor.

Now for the plot.  It wasn’t exactly rocket science, but it was serviceable, and I did feel its threads throughout the series.  That is another way it excelled over A-Force, which on multiple occasions felt like it was just shuffling between scenarios that would let the writers stuff in more cameos.

What about the negative?  Well, there was more than one occasion where I wasn’t sure what order I was supposed to be reading the frames in.  That could’ve been my comic book newbie-ness showing, but I don’t think it was.  Also, I admit a significant portion of my enjoyment came from seeing how they made characters fit the setting; I don’t know how much I would’ve liked it without that.

Overall: 8/10

SpoilerAlert

There’s a scene in the first volume where Angela stabs and drowns a Witchbreed.  The Witchbreed is Logan (Wolverine).  Between Logan’s wriggling, Angela’s matter-of-fact actions, and the cartoony art style used for the scene, it was perfect.

Secret Wars: A-Force (Complete series)

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When I started reading the “A-Force” series, the only other comics I had read were “Serenity: Leaves on the Wind” and a handful of Free Comic Book Day comics.  Based on that, “A-Force” really impressed me.  But then I started reading “Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water” and “1602: Witch Hunter Angela,” and my opinion of “A-Force” dropped somewhat.  And when the series finally ended and I had time to reflect on it as a whole, my final opinion wasn’t what I originally expected it would be.

After I read the first volume, I was very hopeful for the series.  It had a lot of female characters that I was excited to see kicking butt together in one comic.  There was some team tension, and a new character; all potentially great stuff.  Then I got through the series and was left thinking, ” What happened?  Where’s the rest of it?”  And not because of some cliffhanger.  See, the comic had all this potential, but didn’t actually achieve most of it.  The villain and villain’s motives were predictable; I guessed them in the first volume.  I didn’t really connect with any of the characters.  Emotional depths and quandaries were not explored like they could’ve been.

By the end I felt that “A-Force” was an excuse to stuff as many female heroes as possible into one short series, and then hope that readers would be too busy gushing over the appearance of their favorite character(s) to care about the plot.  And yes, I did my share of gushing, but if I’m going to dish out $4 per volume, I need some more meat to the story.

Ultimately “A-Force” was mindless fun, and certainly not what I’d call bad, but it’s not something I’d be recommending either.

Overall: 6/10

SpoilerAlert

Really, was anyone surprised that Lady Loki ended up being the villain?  Anyone?  As soon as I saw her in the first volume I thought, ” Here comes trouble.”