Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. John Byrne's unadorned pencils draw a dead-on likeness of David Boreanaz and evince subtle, smooth lines for new characters with an old history. His pencil carves out a nuanced cranium for a British soldier sipping tea, defines the vamp face and the worried looks of German soldiers fighting a new kind of foe.
The pure penciled black and white milieu becomes integral in the backgrounds which evoke the textures of wood, snow and stone. The castle setting which manifests later in the story makes one's jaw drop, and when Byrne takes us inside the castle, the feeling of awe grows.
While not an example of Byrne-robotics, Angel: Blood and Trenches still benefits from the artist's technical forte. A camouflaged warplane stretches out across the panel in Byrne's majestic pencils and casts an ominous shadow on the snow and ice. The versatility of Byrneís pencils allows for rawness, smoothness and precision.
While it's easy to just recommend Angel: Blood and Trenches strictly for John Byrne's utterly exquisite naked pencils, there's still more to credit solely in terms of story. Byrne's solution to Angel's allergy to sunlight is plausible and exciting. It's a great way to kick off the story. The final part of Angel's escape applies continuity. Vampires do not breathe. Byrne makes use of traditional Irish sympathies to cut to the chase when Angel encounters the Germans, and he employs Angel's dual nature to bring him to the heart of the vampire menace. All and all, the plot runs like well oiled clockwork.
Angel: Blood and Trenches earns my highest recommendation. Itís a feat of artwork showcasing John Byrne at his very best. Itís also a damn good Angel story.
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