Flock of Angels Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Greg Hackmann
Review Date: Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Release Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Shoko Hamada
Translated by:John Thomas
Adapted by:Michelle Ma

What They Say
Would a pair of feathery wings growing out of your back be a blessing or a curse? Would you be a celebrity, or a freakish outcast? The secrets of the angelosis virus continue to unravel as Shea delves deeper into the community of angels. Be drawn into the complex web of intrigue that surrounds the existence of humans with angel's wings and into the budding attraction between Shea and his beautiful, mysterious black-winged savior.

The Review
I'll start with the good news first: Aurora has abandoned the neat-looking but impractical paperstock used in the last volume in favor of the more conventional paper used in standard mass-market releases.  The new paper is noticeably yellower and doesn't hold deep blacks as well, but it's on par with traditional paperback manga releases and has the added bonus of not trying to close itself every time you flip the page.<p>

The bad news is that, by all other metrics, Volume 2 of <i>Flock of Angels</i> really isn't an improvement over the last one.  The first half of the book makes very little headway in terms of the plot, apart from Shea digging up some more nonsensical "medical background" on angelosis during his research.  The first three chapters are otherwise split mostly between fawning over Angelaid, providing an over-the-top backstory for one of Shea's look-alike coworkers, and taking Shea on another unnecessarily-complicated government raid.  The story gets an injection of fresh scenery and some new characters once Shea is whisked away to the land of the black-winged angels in the fourth chapter, but unfortunately these new elements don't really turn out to be more interesting than what been dealing with up to that point.  The (minor spoiler alert!) inevitable romance between Shea and the black-winged Aema is especially hard to buy, even for a story dealing with viruses that cause people to spontaneously sprout wings: she seems to change her feelings about him every time the wind shifts direction, eventually deciding that she loves him within a few sentences of declaring that she's not interested.<p>

A lot of the non-story-related problems I had with the last volume aren't any better in the second volume, either.  The art is still pretty crude and ugly, and the character designs are unimaginative; there are occasional scenes where Aema looks nice, but these are too few and far between.  I'll try not to dwell on the story's "hidden message" too much more, except to say that yes, Hamada keeps revisiting it over and over; and no, it's not being handled any less clumsily than last time.<p>

I guess that if you liked the first volume, you'll probably enjoy the second one too: for better or for worse, Hamada doesn't do a whole lot to shake up the basic formula here.  Otherwise, the story here ranks as a mild (<b>very</b> mild) improvement over Volume 1, and not nearly enough so to make it worth most readers' time.

Mania Grade: D+
Art Rating: D+
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Aurora Publishing, Inc.
MSRP: 10.95
Pages: 192
ISBN: 978-1934496091
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Flock of Angels