Aria Heavenly Creatures releases February 17 from Image Comics’ Shadowline imprint. Co-creator/writer Brian Holguin revisits his cult classic series from 90s Image with this one-shot. In order to bring it to a modern audience, Anomaly Press members bring their gothic atmosphere stylizations.
Originally releasing on the turn of the century, the Aria franchise follows Kildare, a fae living in the mundane world. Working as an occult detective, Kildare goes out of her way to help the denizens of a hidden magical world. The series lasted 5 years, including a crossover with former Spawn character Angela… which is the topic of this one-shot.
Aria Heavenly Creatures Is A Retcon
Full disclosure, Aria Heavenly Creatures is actually a retroactive version of the Aria/Angela crossover from 2000. Due to Angela’s copyright issues further rereleases were stuck in a legal limbo. So in order to republish the story for a modern audience, Holguin tweaks some details by replacing Angela with a nameless angel. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same story, featuring tropes from the 2000s including monologuing narrators. This retains the feeling of mystery surrounding the setting of the one-shot. It’s gloomy and foreboding. Otherwise, some conversations last for longer than they should and can seem rather boring.
A Gothic Makeover
Aria Heavenly Creatures retains the penciling by artist Jay Anacleto, save for the angel’s redesign. Because some elements, like Angela’s headdress, have to be removed, there are noticeable empty spaces that take away the angel’s presence. As a result the angel feels smaller despite retaining a fierce aura.
Brian Haberline pulls a double duty as one of the co-artists and the colorist. Much like his other series Marked, there is a foreboding atmosphere from just the architecture and skyline. The early 18th century London is a place of marvel, in wealth as well as decay. This actually serves as decent foreshadowing. Despite how good the city can look, there are plenty of parts that are just ugly, like dominating parts of the world. The Angel, held prisoner by a freak show host, is the most prominent example.
The rest of Haberline’s Anomaly Productions, like Drew Posada and Raymond Lee, colors Aria Heavenly Creatures in preservation of the original. With how comic book ink can fade, a fresher paint job can give new life to a story’s theme. Like a freak show audience member’s lack of coloring that makes him look ghastly. London claims a victim here and the Angel could very well have been next.
Lettering An Era
Francis Takenaga as letterer gives Aria Heavenly Creatures captions worthy of 18th century London. The scroll-like captions as well as the fancy opening letter are all hallmarks of classical writing. It gives a sense of regal appearances where reputation matters. Unlike the SFX such as a werewolf’s snarling or an ominous laugh that reveal a magical creature’s inner nature. That’s all in contrast to the wealthy partygoers in the one-shot’s beginning. Despite society openly being against acts of social deviancy like bong smoking, the word balloons express how people of high status enjoy it all in seclusion. For the antagonists and setting, domination to fulfill perverse desires in secret are an ever present threat.
Give Aria Heavenly Creatures A Try
Aria Heavenly Creatures is a piece for older fans to collect while telling new fans that a classic is making a comeback. Sure, historians will appreciate the history behind this one-shot more, but that doesn’t mean it’s exclusive to them. It can serve as an introduction for new fans to dive into a cult classic. Just look at how the creative team took efforts to restore a piece of their history.
Are any of you going to give this one-shot a try? Or have the stylizations in storytelling aged poorly? Leave your thoughts in the comments.