Review - Clockwork Angels #1

"But not today. The Watchmaker has a rainstorm scheduled in thirteen minutes. We'll have to run."

Rush is one of the greatest bands in rock and roll history. They've churned out hit after hit and have amassed quite a loyal following. As the drummer and lyricist for the band, Neil Peart has been a big reason for the band's popular impact, but he's no stranger to books as well. Working with Kevin J. Anderson, Peart saw the band's 2012 album Clockwork Angels adapted into a novel. Now, BOOM! Studios has teamed with them to release the book as a comic book, written by Anderson (adapted from a story by Peart), illustrated by Nick Robles and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

Owen Hardy, like all the people of Albion, has lived his whole life under the rule of The Watchmaker. His entire life has been planned down to the exact second. But what happens when a young boy decides that things should not always goes as planned? When those seconds become indicative of something greater, it means that Owen is possibly destined for greater things as well.

Anderson's script is well-paced and even, presenting readers with a fleshed out world where citizens are subject to the whims of the mysterious Watchmaker. With ever minute of every day choreographed, there's little room for free will and that's what Clockwork Angels #1 does exceptionally well. Peart's story focuses on free will vs. determinism and it's the latter that the characters are struggling to break free of in their world. The beauty of Owen's plight is that he doesn't really understand that he's trying to break free; he sort of haphazardly stumbles into freedom out of sheer curiosity. The dialogue evokes great imagination in the reader as well, transporting them to another world.

The painted quality of the illustrations further emboldens the reader to delve into their imagination, as Robles has created a world that depicts a quiet depression among the citizens. Owen and the others live their life daily, not really giving much thought to the world around them and Robles captures this really well. He imbues the work with elements of steampunk amidst and otherwise idyllic setting, the peace kept much like time itself. Characters look like something you'd see in a Victorian nursery rhyme book and it really works within the context of the story itself. There's a darker color palette that hits home the setting for the reader, accompanied by a myriad of panel layouts to keep things fresh and varied.

Clockwork Angels #1 is a very fascinating read that transports the reader to a different place and challenges their thinking about fate. Owen is content to live his life and not want more, but that's primarily because he doesn't know what more there is. As the curtain on the life in front of him is slowly peeled back, he learns more and more about the world around him his curiosity grows stronger. Yes, this is a comic adaptation of the novel of Rush's album released in 2012. That doesn't make it any less powerful and insightful; with Anderson reprising his script duties and Robles' illustrations, Clockwork Angels #1 is a great book that is paced well and makes for an enjoyable read.

Clockwork Angels #1 is in stores March 19 with interiors below.