Posted on March 30, 2010 by Nancy
Available at DriveThruComics.com
“Raining Fire” is the first in the TWILIGHT CRUSADE: GABRIEL series from Moonstone and introduces us to a female embodiment of the archangel Gabriel. She’s fed up with her job, has a jaded outlook and some high powered, kick-ass weapons. I’m all for tough heroines and heroes ready to take down the bad guys, and I enjoy a complex good vs. evil story. Unfortunately, I didn’t think there was enough in the first issue to fully deliver the hard-edge and gripping storyline that it initially promises—but there is great potential here for any future issues.
An introductory page gives us some background. It lays out the story of Lucifer and the fallen angels, Michael the other archangels, and the ones that couldn’t choose a side. The latter are called the Hollow because “they were so empty of passion they couldn’t choose a side.” Being banished to earth, many of the Hollow bore children with humans. The offspring were called the Nephilim. Throughout the comic details are added about the rest of the divine hierarchy as well.
All of this is pretty familiar territory, and the basic plot will be recognizable to anyone that has at least some passing knowledge of religion, has watched Supernatural or Constantine, or has read the graphic novels. This isn’t a bad thing, per say; there’s a huge audience for the material, and it’s as good of a start as any.
After the intro, the story begins with a high octane fight sequence between Gabe and a few demons. After the initial showdown with the bad guys, Gabriel meets up with “Lou” (three guesses who that is). Things start to slow down from this point in order to fill in some important details on the relationships between the denizens of heaven, hell, and the divine on earth.
The next sequence is similar, only it introduces another angel and Nephilim descendant . Personally, I see some potential for this comic to have its own signature here—Gabe’s possible involvement with the Nephilim and their protectors. But it felt as though this portion was glossed over. Possibly because of how it plays into later issues of the comic? I don’t know, but my curiosity was peaked. The subplot that’s introduced is interesting and—while close to being a bit too familiar—has just enough twist to potentially be a stamp of something different within the setting. Even if this isn’t important, there’s still a lot to work with overall, however the creators decide to proceed.
In terms of the artwork, I felt that the first few panels had a bit more depth and detail in the use of the page. This creative use of space is unfortunately lacking in the rest of the comic, though details are still pretty good. This may or may not work for some comic book readers. There are numerous comic book art styles, and if the story is interesting a few panels with a bit less details aren’t problematic. Overall the artwork is good—there’s a nice attention to detail with facial features and there’s a strong use of color. The cover also fits with the story.
The biggest problem I found here was a noticeable lack of a sense of movement with the drawings, and that creates some problems both in the opening sequence and in a later fight scene. For instance, at one point in the first panels a demon knocks Gabriel’s weapon to the side as she’s fighting. I had to read it over a few times and reexamine the panel to get a clear indication of what happened, as there are no motion lines, nothing that really shows that movement takes place. It didn’t have that flow that brings comic art alive.
In a later panel, Gabe fights another demon. The foe leaps across the room, seemingly flying straight for her. Instead it looks more like the demon is just hovering in the air, flat on the page. All of these things, however, can be improved and it’s obvious there’s enough skill here to make it work.
Overall, there’s nothing wrong with the basic idea itself. It’s been proven and it works because people are interested in the classic good vs. evil struggle. But with the number of stories, books, movies, television shows, graphic novels and comics that deal with this type of plot, each creative work that tries to tread that path needs something unique to itself so that readers aren’t saying “hey, this is exactly like this thing over here.” Again, there’s obvious potential present in GABRIEL. I wouldn’t disregard it, and if the trouble spots can be strengthened in future issues then it may develop into a truly riveting comic series.
Review by Nancy O. Greene