I recently came across A Flight of Angels created by Rebecca Guay. It is a club story which explores and shows differing sides to the angelic host, quite apart from just being messengers. It seems to follow in the wake of comics which use the club story for their constructions, such as the recenlty ended House of Mysteries. John Clute, in Conjunctions 39, argues that the club story is perhaps the dominant form at the moment, the one which the fantastic has taken most closely to its heart and these comics have done something similar. Where the House of Mystery used it to explore the back stories of the various characters and to play with notion of form, this collection explores a single entity and its meaning.
An angel crashes into the forest and the goblins and natural supernatural creatures stay guard, debating what course of action to take. Meanwhile each takes turn to relate a story about the messenger. Guay has collated a wonderful group of writers, including Holly Black, Bill Willingham, Alisa Kwitney, Louise Hawes and Todd Mitchell to tell the story in different styles and modes.
Louise Hawes explores the idea of the angel as tempter, showing Eve a history of women from herself to the Virgin Queen with a warning that both herself and Adam forget. Knowledge and hope become the driving force to abandon a static Paradise which Eve may not ever grow.
Bill Willingham’s ‘A Story within a Story’ is an exploration of the angelic host as a civil service, permanently delaying the final show down thorugh production delays. Meanwhile an angel is sent to kill one who has gone slightly insane, subtly allowing the reader to question whether the angelic host can be entirley sane after so long, thogh they have a certain angelic amorality.
Alisa Kwitney brings the angels back into folkore as something to fear and be feared, yet they also allow the reader to see that life moves on. Rather than just being a harbinger of joy or death, the angel becomes something that allows for movement and motion forwards, almost industrially.
Yet, as Todd Mitchell shows in ‘The Guardian’, they cannot be involved in human affairs, an echo of the book of Genesis where they must be watchers. Straying is strongly forbidden but there might be some hidden guidance.
I did enjoy the collection and they way that it explores the ambivalent messengers whilst remaining within existing traditions. It also acts as a slight showcase for Guay’s art (I admit that she is a new artist to me) and I’ll be looking out for more in due course. Meanwhile the graphic novel is certainly one to look out for and read.