Angel- Barbary Coast #1 Review

Cover B by Dan Panosian

Angel- Barbary Coast #1 written by David Tischman, Art by Franco Uru, Colors by Andrea Prionne, Lettering by Neil Uyetake and Edits by Mariah Huenner and Published by IDW, is a story about a Jiangshi (Chinese Vampire) looking for the cure to his problems. He finds an old pimp named Xin who defeats him in battle swiftly and tells him that he can help him if he delivers back one of his escaped sex workers.

I enjoyed reading this book, it is packed with beautiful horizontal full-page illustrations that are often not done right with the action being cut in the middle of the book, however, in this case, they run smoothly from page to page and are used consistently to great results.

The book itself is sturdy with the cover page printed on solid cardstock not something particularly unique to this book yet holding it one can feel how strong the cardstock actually is. I personally enjoy that. Reading on the go since sometimes throwing a flimsy comic in a bookbag can result in creases and unwanted bending which is prevented by the strong cardstock covers.

The cover art looks quite wonderful and whilst it is a greyscale cover it goes wonderful with the atmosphere of the dark story being told inside. My particular copy has Cover B by Dan Panosian and looks great. I enjoy the cross on the girl’s chest which is later referenced in the book and on the inside of the book that particular panel is literally my favorite panel out of the whole book, which is great to see it referenced in the cover.

The coloring by Andrea Prionne is absolutely stellar, from the dark alleys and muted colors to the buzzing warm colors of the inside of the “casino/whorehouse” everything looks beautifully rendered and I am a huge fan of the colors in this book. That being said I wasn’t all the way there on the art by Franco Uru, some panels look a bit muddy with the expressions feeling a bit bland and dirty yet while reading it one can see that where Franco really shines is in the combat and action scenes and poses. The action panels are outstanding and impactful. They are fast-paced and feel as if you’re watching an old Bruce Lee film in a comic book. Sadly we get maybe 2 or 3 pages tops of combat with most of the real combat being focused on only one page between Xin and the Jiangshi. I would have loved to have seen more of that battle instead of it ending so quickly. Franco really excels in action panels so perhaps letting him go nuts with those pages would have made for an even better book.

Regardless of the pacing, the writing by David Tischman is fantastic; conversation feels natural and fun to read and it’s very easy to differentiate the tone of each character just by the way they talk. Ballon placement and lettering by Neil Uyetake are good, they didn’t go crazy on this particular issue with tons of sound fxs or ultra custom typefaces but at the same time, I don’t think that was needed for this kind of story. It’s easy to read and at about an 8 to 10-minute read, it’s great to see there aren’t huge blocks of texts covering the action.

My favorite line out of the whole book has to be:

“Stop with the Confucius. It’s confusing” in regards to the way Xin was speaking. The line was both funny and clever and shows how good Tischman’s writing can be. The narrations felt great too and the inner monologue of the Jianshi felt both important and relevant throughout the whole issue.

All in all, this was a wonderful experience to read, and whilst I don’t know much about the Angel series I will be on the lookout for more issues on this series to see how the story develops and hopefully see more stellar action shots and fights drawn by Franco Uru.

Another great thing this book has going for it is that the ads are all on the back. I love that. Sometimes comic books particularly Marvel stories from the 80’s and 90’s have ads right in the middle of the book and it just breaks total immersion for me, so seeing a book do it right and have all the ads on the back feels nice. I would have personally liked a little more art of the actual franchise in there as well like some concept art or maybe a couple of quick sketches of the panels, but that’s just my personal taste. I’m a sucker for concept art, hardly do I ever read the message section, I’d much rather see more art.

I rate this book a: YEAH! (3/5) for it’s stellar writing, beautiful coloring and fantastic action scenes.

Purchase other great comics like this by writing to Ton’O Comics on Instagram.

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