Rush drummer Neil Peart’s lyrics get a little more mileage in the comic book “Clockwork Angels” #1, an adaptation of a novel by the same name (and same author), which is in fact, a novelization of Rush’s concept album, also by the same name. Or in other words, it’s a copy of a copy and the effect is starting to lose its impact.
WRITTEN BY: Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart
ART BY: Nick Robles
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
RELEASE: March 19, 2014
“Clockwork Angels” is a dystopian story set against a steampunk backdrop. Owen Hardy, a teenage boy from a “utopian” society, starts to question the very notion and push back against the “perfect” life that has been arranged for him. There is nothing new about this concept. It shares the plot and plot elements with a lot of dystopian novels that have come before it. Sometimes an overly used plot can make a refreshing comeback, unfortunately, such is not the case in the first issue of “Clockwork Angels”.
Full disclaimer: I’m not a Rush fan. Word on the street is that this is a great read for Rush fans. And I can imagine why. The plot so accurately portrays the concept album it’s based on, and furthermore, seems to be a straight adaptation of the novel. I can imagine any Rush fan would find it exhilarating to see some of their favorite music come to comic book life. So in all fairness, there’s that.
But overall, this is the type of comic that presents a lot of problems for me as the reviewer. There is nothing entirely wrong about the comic, but there’s nothing entirely right about it either. There are plenty of positive things to say and plenty of not-so-positive things to say, with absolutely no middle ground or fence-sitting on my part.
Perhaps the most evident problem is that “Clockwork Angels” is TOO well crafted. The illustrations are grand, cinematic, and have an overwhelming “picture book” quality to them. Everything from illustrations to discourse are so perfectly executed that it borders on uninteresting. There is a sense of “safety” in the finished product. Which just doesn’t feel natural for a dystopian comic book.
As I mentioned above, the plot has been done before. Like, a lot. In regards to storyline, I could just say: “See also: The Giver, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale, etc.” While it has all the ingredients for a great dystopian of this type, it lacks the salt of the genre, thus making it fall flat on delivery. There is nothing too profound or genre bending which tends to be the saving grace for reused plots.
What could be a winning move for this comic would be to market it to a younger audience. The “Disney” like illustrations combined with the safe dialogue and recycled plot would do well with fresh eyes. The story is not UNenjoyable. It simply lacks the edgy depth of a groundbreaking dystopian/steampunk concept.
Reviewed by – Bree Ogden