The strong-souled tightrope walking vixen, beguiling with her winged presence is worth the price of admission alone for April 2014’s second issue (of six) for CLOCKWORK ANGELS. The ego-less, ex-apple orchard manager’s new and forever girl is featured! Francesca flies down and gives the smitten young man, Owen Hardy, a rose he treasures. In fell swoop his very own angel descends upon him.
There were no pictures of the shapely lass, Francesca — who inspires the song “The Halo Effect”(The goddess with wings on her heels) — till these comic books came along. Hugh Syme did not include a picture of her among his choice illustrations for the novel. A novel that is handsomely put together. (And just the way Kevin J. Anderson wanted it.) We did get the imposing presence of the wind-up gypsy woman. Hugh Syme’s absolute closest approximation to drawing sexy babes, a la MANOWAR or other Rock/Metal/Prog(?) was “Permanent Waves”. Hugh Syme is decidedly avant-garde and we like him that way. Syme is part of the unbeatable art team bringing the story to life.
A GODDESS WITH WINGS ON HER HEELS
Nope, for better-or-worse, life with The Watchmaker-approved, young girl Lavinia just wasn’t in the cards. Now matter how well-intentioned and domineering the Watchmaker’s pronouncements.
Lavinia couldn’t see shapes in the clouds, anyway. A pre-requisite to being pals with the highly excitable, imaginative boy Owen Hardy.
24 pages of the second book, (#2 – April 2014) features the KJA story, in full color as more dazzling than the first. It is, additionally, faster moving from scene to scene.
Those who have seen the style used on songs other than the title track, “2112”, for the graphics, on the 5.1 2012, “2112” deluxe edition, may be reminded of that dazzling foray for the eyes and ears — though that is an entirely separate endeavor — it is just the way the words are plucked from the Clockwork Angels novel to make things concise that echo the similarity. That cherry-picking way of narrating and moving the story along exists also in these Clockwork Angels comics. It is not an unusual comic book ploy, though, by any means.
The gypsy fortune teller is on my cover of Issue #2. There are alternate covers, yet what they might all be is more within the scope of the collector’s mindset (to be discussing) and it’s pure entertainment that I’m interested in. I am happy just to snag this one!
I also have March 2014 (the first of six) CLOCKWORK ANGELS graphic novels sitting next to it — as I write this — the cover art being an intensely-(red), framed Clockwork Angels LP cover. Swirling red clouds hide the vortex where we bask and lose ourselves in the alternate world of Our Hero, Owen Hardy. As deep a journey as Cygnus X-1 Book II Hemispheres, for sure. Though, not a Greek deity in sight.
48 pages, totally intrinsic to the Clockwork Angels epic novel and album, have been unleashed for us Rush-obsessed fans to gawk at, read, analyze, and surely love to death.
Does that mean that, when the six issues are up, we will have at least 144 pages of pure Clockwork Angels enjoyment? There are 12 songs on the album and it averages out to two songs a comic book. And twelve pages per each song.
Though wasn’t that the challenge of the novel to begin with? It had to use the finished lyrics by drummer/lyricist of RUSH Neil Peart. This achievement by Kevin J. Anderson, in the first place, can’t be understated.
READERS LEARN TO SNARE BY THE STARS (one of my “Presto”-era DVD-review quotes has been borrowed here — see elsewhere for special RUSH reviews on the mighty deathscream.net).
“Presenting, the inaugural performance of Dr. Russell’s fabulous Clockwork Percussor”. Unlike Neil Peart, this one-eyed drum machine oddity doesn’t rattle off paradiddles in 20/4 time with any kind of endurance. Instead the Percussor proceeds to discombobulate, literally falling apart. Quite quickly. Still, the wide-eyed Owen Hardy doesn’t think anything can beat the spectacle of the drummer with gears for cymbals. I know that this feature of the drum set is making me sit up and take notice, because I am a musician AND a rabid comic book lover. I find the nutty Clockwork Percussor to be cooler looking than any entity that has graced the drum stool of any Rock Band arcade.
Owen Hardy, I guess — a bit like me, and not unlike some of you readers/fans gets blown away, in his usual deer-caught-in-the-headlights per usual style, by yet another clockwork facet of this faux-Utopian world, as we can see with his ever-expressive face.
And what a Gomer Pyle expression exists on this man’s Barrel Arbor small-town face. As priceless as Neil Peart’s brutish countenance on stage at a RUSH concert manning his drum arsenal.
Though, to be fair, I can’t but like “Our Hero”, as KJA has dubbed the brave main character in the CA novel; Owen Hardy is a man who speaks the truth and has a great heart and a wayfaring spirit who lives to quest for love and adventure and thrill of it all.
This alternate world is utterly mind-blowing to behold in full color. Where did this amazing new guy’s artwork spring from? What has he done before? It looks as if he understands what every facet of what the world of Albion, and beyond, holds.
Kevin J. Anderson wrote a great novel (and the front cover of the book includes “with story and lyrics by Neil Peart” – like Bubba’s invention of the wobbling, amusing Percussor). The comic books take it completely to the next level. Personally, I thought it just couldn’t get any better, save making a full-length motion picture of it. And let’s hope that is next. It has been since 2010 that we first all feasted, as fans, on the “Caravan/BU2B” single. Wouldn’t it be cool if 5 years later, in 2015, that the boy from Barrel Arbor and co. goes up on the big screen?!?
RUSH fans, “all is for the best” as the CLOCKWORK ANGELS characters say. And in RUSHspeak: “Anything can happen”
WORKIN’ THEM ANGELS
One might, after watching RUSH perform in one of their numerous videos, after viewing/reading this incredible comic book, a newfound perspective and that ‘ol Bubba’s just got to have a wind-up switch somewhere akin to what is drawn in the comic book of the Clockwork Percussor. We may start looking for it! I simply love The Percussor artist rendering. I couldn’t quite picture it from reading the novel, no matter that I read the book a handful of times. My mind was picturing something spider-like. And I my mind’s eye was not seeing it correctly.
The novel is alive and breathes through these comic books. And vice versa. The comic books are alive and breathes through the CLOCKWORK ANGELS novel.
Tonight, I have made a deal with myself: As soon as I can grab a little vacation time, I will read KJA’s CA novel for the 6th time!
Wipe that chicken off your face, reader, because I am serious about what I just said.
The juxtaposition of different hued art opens the first issue of the CA comic book, with the elderly Owen Hardy happily retired, seated outside within his carnival mansion walls, busy writing his memoirs. Immediately begins the amazing trend of resplendent, winged Clockwork Angels images and edifices, sprinkled throughout (both issues of CA).
The story of Owen Hardy’s drive just to get away is what fills the 1st issue’s comic books’ pages. The night was pitch black and foreboding, as shown, but Mr. Hardy just had to start his adventurous adulthood. He would be 17 and wants lots of outside stimulation.
TO BLAZE ACROSS THE HEAVENS, LIKE A BRILLIANT SHOOTING STAR
“Red Barchetta”-like, this Middletown Dreamer, Owen Hardy jumps the turbine freight. Breathtakingly drawn, by the way. The nocturnal, almost a pitch-black darkness with nothing but Owen Hardy’s spark of naïve enthusiasm, to light the midnight hour, sparks the young man to accept the hand of The Anarchist to hop his ride at midnight to Crown City.
We see in this first (March 2014) issue, how The Anarchist is far removed from “freedom”. Rather he seeks to enslave Owen Hardy as his cohort and pollute his mind, by slick talking, into accepting his mentally ill view of the world. The Anarchist has a lot of problems. He is twisted in mind and nothing but a criminal. The comic book shows how trapped the nubile main character really is, stowing away in a most cramped, uncomfortable way on the midnight caravan express to the home of the Watchmaker and The Clockwork Angels in Crown City. Dark and cramped quarters don’t stop the Anarchist from throwing wide-armed shapes in the night with his lithe body, in a bravado attempt at gaining Our Hero’s favor. The Anarchist has long black hair. I guess — no, I know — long hair has long symbolized freedom, so I wasn’t surprised at this aspect of this character.
The Watchmaker, conversely is harder to pin down, pictured as a convoluted man of many delusions, but not mentally ill nor a criminal. The centuries-old Watchmaker looks, most surprisingly, like he wouldn’t hurt a fly. I got a different mental picture of The Watchmaker from reading the CA novel.
The reader who thrums his way through these comic books can understand that the story is really about two kinds of ring leaders. One runs the carnival. The other runs the country of Albion.
The Watchmaker’s black guard, and his blue guard, and his red guard are not vicious in keeping the peace.
The darkness that the comic book frames have, demonstrate a world not besieged by blinding electric light and neon symbols. Foreboding, it only intensifies the brave Owen Hardy’s journey of enlightened pursuit in the quest of his hopes and dreams.
As I read on, I get smitten by the fairgrounds picture of The Carnies, I can’t wait to see the showdown — in a forthcoming issue – of The Watchmaker and The Anarchist with The Free People Of The Sea (The Anarchist’s pirate brigade). That’s the part where “The Wreckers” kill Captain Lochs — the unassuming mild-mannered captain — as Owen Hardy finally grows himself a spine, even if it is made of pure outrage at this most cruel murder.
Then he takes off on a Zep-like flying dirigible and finds the loot as “Headlong Flight” usurps the title track of “Clockwork Angels” in pure amazing, winning style. A musical moment that reminds me of the motion picture soundtrack to “Tommy” by The Who. When/(not if!) this hits the big screen; this will surely be the moment when our hearts skip a beat. You just got to give it up for Owen Hardy. “Oz The Great And Powerful”, a movie from 2013 threw up shapes a lot like what the big-screen Clockwork Angels could be.
And yes, the feature-length movie I speak of is a Disney production and incorporates the Wizard Of Oz motif.
I went and got way past where these first two comic books in the series take us.
It is keenly exciting enough already, as we get to see “the ticking bomb” in the hands of Hardy — as graffiti, including red anarchy symbols that have been scribbled sneakily on the Watchmaker’s building walls, peer out of the pages, letting us feel the annoying wrath of The Anarchist. That’s what he is! Annoying. Till we find out he is a murderer. Then just looking at him is most distasteful.
These comic books are beyond amazing. Even if you don’t read comic books, I will tell you something: 6 out of 5 stars, is the rating for this series so far.
Kevin J. Anderson has quite recently finished writing for the sixth and last issue, as this review is posted.
A tip of Owen Hardy’s lucky porkpie hat, that we see sold to him in the CA comic book, to this great man abbreviated as KJA.
Kevin J. Anderson with the help of the magnanimous Neil Peart for story and lyrics and Hugh Syme, Cosmic Comics, Boom! Studios — All make up one of the finest sci-fi and fantasy casts ever to grace our planet’s graphic novel pages’ stages.
And the legend of our beloved CLOCKWORK ANGELS just keeps getting better and better.
Now I definitely want “The Further Adventures Of Owen Hardy” to be written. With alternate worlds and so many interesting characters to base stories around, it can easily be done. Like many people, I combed through countless Star Trek novels with the whole gamut of the half-dozen, or so, captains. Till I was sated. The latest Star Trek movie had me riveted and just wishing that us humans had lifetimes 10 times as long: Then I am sure I could stare at each frame of these brilliant Clockwork Angels comic books for hours and hours.
RUSH/CLOCKWORK ANGELS/KJA/PEART/SYME/The 12 songs and the two Pedlar interludes form the 2012 album, replete with 5 — count ’em five singles culled from the 20th RUSH smash studio album — and, y’know what?
…… I’m lovin’ it.
Yet what will RUSH, themselves, do for an encore to top the quaint story of the world that twinkles with the Tick Tock Tavern and the Carnies and beyond?
And there is still May, June, July and August of 2014 for the rest of the run of Clockwork Angels comic books.
– Rich Casale