Bronx Angel #1-4

Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2006
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Bronx Angel #1-4 Writer(s): Dan Head
Artist(s): Randy Valiente
Publishers: Proletariat Comics, LLC
From: com
Price: Yet to be advised (US

This "review" is more of a "preview" since, at the time of writing, Bronx Angel has yet to make it to a hard copy format and the four comics exist only in an electronic format.

What I can say is that when they do materialise in a more physical form they are well worth grabbing, especially if you are interested in comics that deal with contemporary socio /political issues in a direct and heart felt manner.

Bronx Angel is the tortured soul of contemporary America presented in a comic format. It is born out of America's post 7-11 angst and torment and the moral dilemma that the nation faces regarding the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq.

What makes Bronx Angel especially valid however is the fact that is does not present the voice of the liberal anti- war brigade nor does it trumpet the jingoistic misplaced patriotism of the right. It is created by an individual who straddles both camps and finds himself torn between his national pride and his sense of justice. It should come as no surprise then when I say that this is a tortured read. It offers no easy answers just presents the reality as perceived by one who has felt.

At times I found the comics verged dangerously near to Hollywood cliché. The war zone scenes of "never leave your wounded behind" and the "photograph of the girl waiting back home" reminded me of films like Black Hawk Down, etc. But what do I know. Have I been there? No. For all I know this could be how it really is, who am I to judge?

Basically these comics chart the story of one Sargent Angel Washington as he attempts to rehabilitate himself back into "normal" life in New York. He is haunted by flashbacks of the action he saw in the Middle East and pursued by the street gang that he was once a member of. He has to deal with returning to live above the restaurant that is owned by his family who worry about their son and also attempt to placate his partner who hates New York and yearns for the Californian sun. He has no money, no real prospects, and is struggling to pay for the education he needs to get ahead. Rehabilitation is not an easy process.

The occasional spelling error and tense confusion tends to detract from what is otherwise an impressively presented series of comics. The page layout is a particular strength, often resembling visually impressive comics like Red Star. This care over page design pays dividends on pages that feature the action packed war scenes. Here the artist's skill in drawing the dynamic human form plus the exaggerated "loud" use of onomatopoeia combine to create action scenes that explode with genuine power. The art- work is crisp and clean often almost stark. This is a very visual comic. Edition #0 has been greyscaled but the others have not, as yet, been finished to this point. I must admit that I prefer the edgy, raw feel of the less polished pages; they contain a real grittiness that I found to be in keeping with the subject matter.

Dan provided a bio with his material. This bio finished with the following comment, "This is my book. It's about serving this nation and about leaving the service and about the true nature of war. It is as good as I could make it. I hope that it does justice to the subject matter."

Well Dan I think you have achieved your goals for this comic. It is an ugly game that America is involved in right now, voices like Bronx Angel make sure that the effect that these political machinations have on ordinary people are not being lost. Upon finishing reading these comics one is left with a profound sense of sadness and frustration but this is tempered against the fact that this is just a fraction of the confusion and despair that many war vets must feel every single day.

I look forward to seeing these comics in their final published form.

In a Word: Sobering.

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me