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    Angel: Revelations - Aguirre-Sacasa Pollina

    He's smart, tall, handsome, and rich; a star both on the field and in the classroom. All the girls want to date him, all the guys want to be him”, his name is Warren Worthington III, heir of one of New York’s largest –and oldest– fortunes. Yes, Warren has the perfect life, until one day he realizes his body is changing, and it’s not simple hair growing in unexpected places or his voice sounding different, it’s something far more mystifying.

    Talented writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa examines the youthful days of Warren, a year before he became one of Charles Xavier’s first pupils, months before turning into Angel, founding member of the X-Men. He’s still in high school, in his senior year, “his hair is blonde… he’s 17… he doesn’t’ live with his family, but at his school… where the hills are green… he’s handsome… rich […] he’s worthy”.


    Warren Worthington III is a sports idol in St. Joseph’s preparatory, and he has even broken a few state records thanks to his agility and velocity. But no matter how much he eats, he’s been losing weight lately, and strange bruises have appeared on his shoulders. Something is growing inside of him, something that does not belong to human physiology. He acknowledges this, and thus stops hanging out with his friends, refusing to participate in sports or games; and he hides from everyone, even his girlfriend. 


    “Whatever’s happening to me, to my body… I have to keep it hidden… I have to keep it a secret”. Warren feels ashamed of himself, disgusted even. But above all, he feels lonely and he wishes he could just go home and deal with this situation privately. He’s been raised by a very traditional family, and one of the rules that comes with old money is to avoid scandals, always. 


    Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa intensifies the feeling of loneliness and abandonment, while preserving the normal insecurities of a teenager. The boarding school makes Warren feel claustrophobic, and we can easily imagine his suffering. We’ve seen Angel as a proud mutant with white wings, soaring the skies like a harbinger of the gods. But this story takes place long before that, and the writer genuinely captures that in-between instance, that moment of excision, that particular day when Warren stops being the golden boy everyone loves and starts fearing the monster he could turn into.


    Nevertheless, the protagonist will eventually be more concerned with moral monstrosity, for example, the heinous crimes of a religious zealot that hunts down mutants. Aguirre-Sacasa combines two different threats, one that comes from the exterior –the mutant exterminator– and another one that lies in the very heart of St. Joseph’s preparatory: father Reynolds, a pedophile that has been raping young boys for over 20 years, and that has now chosen Andrew Palmer –a shy gay kid and Warren’s best friend– as his victim.


    The two teenagers have, indeed, dark secrets. As feathers start protruding out of Warren’s back, he isolates even more; and as father Reynolds starts abusing of Andrew more and more often, the frightened youngster also feels the need to seclude himself. It is at this weird juncture –two teens trying to conceal physical evidences of something abnormal, trying to pretend that if they close their eyes, the bad things will go away– that Warren and Andrew support each other, until eventually they confess their secrets. Andrew has a crush on Warren, although the proximity, the intimacy they share, leads not to romance but to a very special complicity.


    Nonetheless, confession doesn’t mean salvation. And as the days go by, the senior students decide it’s time for some hazing, and their target is Andrew Palmer. The older boys capture the fragile kid and proceed to undress him; they plan on physically punishing him as part of the hazing that all seniors must perform on the younger students. It’s interesting to observe, as Slavoj Žižek would describe it, that this isn’t merely an eroticization of the “disciplinary” procedure that older boys feel entitled to, but the constitutive obscene supplement of the activity. 


    In the same way that father Reynolds displays the contours of a particular fantasy –an older male who engages in sexual activities with another, younger male, preferably a child– which bears witness to his own perverted sexual desire, the senior alumni unwittingly bring to light the obscene libidinal foundation of their own crusade against “fags”. In fact, as they accuse Andrew of being Warren’s boyfriend, they lay bare the underlying libidinal economy –the libidinal profit, the ‘plus-de jouir’– which sustains their homophobic behavior.


    Warren is the only senior student that refuses to participate in the hazing. That decision alone reveals his ethics and his courage. He’s already a hero, long before saving the world or fighting against Magneto, and his heroism starts with criticizing the actions of his peers. But Warren goes even further, he rescues his friend Andrew, even if that means getting into a fight with his former teammates.


    “Angel: Revelations” is an impressive miniseries that explores mature themes intelligently and sensibly. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa takes advantage of the Marvel Knights imprint to include scenes that would not be accepted in a regular Marvel comic. And artist Adam Pollina also takes this opportunity to draw as freely as he wants. His highly stylized pages are unique; his figures –depurated of anatomical weight– possess an undeniable elfish grace. Indeed, thanks to Pollina’s style, Warren is portrayed as a true creature of the skies, blossoming with subtle sexuality and pure youthfulness. Adam Pollina and colorist Matt Hollingsworth throw in different sensibilities into the mix, and the final result seems influenced by artistic movements like Fauvism and Impressionism. Pollina’s non-naturalistic representations of the human anatomy add depth to a story that emphasizes on the inhuman elements of Warren’s body. “Senior Year” is, without a doubt, one of the finest tales we can possibly find about the earlier days of an X-Man.

    Angel: Revelations - Aguirre-Sacasa Pollina
    The glory days of a star athlete / los días de gloria de un atleta estrella

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Angel: Revelations - Aguirre-Sacasa Pollina
    Warren's body is changing / el cuerpo de Warren está cambiando

     “Él es listo, alto, guapo, y rico; una estrella tanto de los deportes y los estudios. Todas las chicas quieren salir con él, todos los chicos quieren ser él”, su nombre es Warren Worthington III, heredero de una las más grandes –y añejas– fortunas de New York. Sí, Warren tiene la vida perfecta, hasta que un día se da cuenta de que su cuerpo está cambiando, y no son vellos que salen en algún lugar inesperado o los cambios de la voz, es algo mucho más misterioso.


    El talentoso escritor Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa examina los días juveniles de Warren, un año antes de convertirse en uno de los primeros pupilos de Charles Xavier, meses antes de ser Angel, miembro fundador de los X-Men. Todavía está en secundaria, en su último año, “su pelo es rubio… tiene 17 años… no vive con su familia, sino en su colegio… donde las colinas son verdes… es guapo… rico […] es valioso”.


    Warren Worthington III es un ídolo deportivo en la preparatoria St. Joseph, e incluso ha roto algunos records estatales gracias a su agilidad y velocidad. Pero no importa cuánto coma, ha estado perdiendo peso últimamente, y unas extrañas laceraciones han aparecido en sus hombros. Algo en su interior está creciendo, algo que no pertenece a la fisiología humana. Él reconoce esto, y por ello deja de ver a sus amigos, y se rehúsa a participar en juegos y deportes; y se esconde de todos, incluso de su enamorada. 

    “Lo que sea que me esté pasando a mí, a mi cuerpo... tengo que mantenerlo escondido... tengo que mantenerlo en secreto”. Warren se avergüenza de sí mismo, incluso siente asco. Pero por encima de todo, se siente solo, y desearía poder ir a casa y lidiar con esta situación en privado. Ha sido criado por una familia muy tradicional, y una de las reglas de los ricos de antaño es evitar siempre los escándalos.
    Angel: Revelations - Aguirre-Sacasa Pollina
    As a teenager all he can think about is... sex / como adolescente, él sólo piensa en... sexo
    Angel: Revelations - Aguirre-Sacasa Pollina
    the break-up / la ruptura

    Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa intensifica la sensación de soledad y abandono, mientras preserva las inseguridades normales de un adolescente. El internado hace que Warren se sienta claustrofóbico, y podemos imaginar su sufrimiento. Hemos visto a Angel como un orgulloso mutante de alas blancas, surcando los cielos como un emisario de los dioses. Pero esta es la historia que ocurrió antes, y el escritor captura genuinamente esa instancia entre dos mundos, ese momento de escisión, ese día particular en el que Warren deja de ser el chico de oro que todos adoran y empieza a temer al monstruo en el que podría convertirse.


    No obstante, el protagonista eventualmente estará más preocupado por la monstruosidad moral, por ejemplo, los horrendos crímenes de un fanático religioso que caza mutantes. Aguirre-Sacasa combina dos amenazas diferentes, una que viene del exterior –el exterminador de mutantes– y otra que yace en el corazón mismo de la preparatoria St. Joseph: el padre Reynolds, un pedófilo que ha estado violando niños por más de 20 años, y que ahora ha elegido a Andrew Palmer –un tímido chiquillo gay y el mejor amigo de Warren– como su víctima.


    Los dos adolescentes tienen, de hecho, secretos oscuros. Cuando las plumas empiezan a salir de la espalda de Warren, él se aísla aún más; y cuando el padre Reynolds empieza a abusar de Andrew cada vez más a menudo, el asustado jovencito también siente la necesidad de recluirse. En esta rara coyuntura –dos adolescentes intentando ocultar las evidencias físicas de algo anormal, intentando fingir que si cierran los ojos, las cosas malas desaparecerán– que Warren y Andrew se apoyan entre sí, hasta que eventualmente confiesan sus secretos. Andrew se siente atraído por Warren, aunque la cercanía, la intimidad que comparten, no es el origen de ningún romance sino de una complicidad muy especial.

    Angel: Revelations - Aguirre-Sacasa Pollina
    Warren reveals his secrets to Andrew / Warren le revela sus secretos a Andrew

    No obstante, la confesión no significa la salvación. Y conforma pasan los días, los estudiantes de último año deciden que es hora de la 'iniciación', y su objetivo es Andrew Palmer. Los muchachos capturan al frágil chiquillo y proceden a desvestirlo; planean castigarlo físicamente como parte de la iniciación que todos los de último año llevan a cabo con los alumnos más jóvenes. Es interesante observar, tal como lo describiría Slavoj Žižek, que esto no es meramente la erotización del procedimiento “disciplinario” que los chicos se adjudican, sino el suplemento obsceno constitutivo de la actividad. 

    Angel: Revelations - Aguirre-Sacasa Pollina
    Angel

    Del mismo modo que el padre Reynolds exhibe los contornos de una fantasía particular  –un hombre mayor que mantiene actividades sexuales con otro menor, de preferencia un niño– que atestigua su propio deseo sexual perverso, los alumnos de último año involuntariamente sacan a la luz la raíz libidinal obscena de su propia cruzada contra los “maricas”. De hecho, cuando acusan a Andrew de ser el enamorado de Warren, desnudan la economía libidinal subyacente –la ganancia libidinal, el ‘plus de goce’– que brinda sostén a su comportamiento homofóbico.


    Warren es el único estudiante de último año que se rehúsa a participar en la iniciación. Esa decisión revela su ética y su coraje. Él ya es un héroe, mucho antes de salvar el mundo o pelear contra Magneto, y su heroísmo empieza al criticar las acciones de sus colegas. Pero Warren va más allá, rescata a su amigo Andrew, incluso si eso significa pelearse con sus ex compañeros de equipo.


    “Angel: Revelations” es una impresionante miniserie que explora temas maduros con inteligencia y sensibilidad. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa aprovecha el sello de Marvel Knights para incluir escenas que no serían aceptadas en un cómic Marvel típico. Y el artista Adam Pollina también aprovecha esta oportunidad para dibujar tan libremente como le apetece. Sus páginas sumamente estilizadas son únicas; sus figuras –depuradas de peso anatómico– poseen una innegable gracia élfica. De hecho, gracias al estilo de Pollina, Warren es retratado como una verdadera criatura de los cielos, que florece con una sexualidad sutil y pureza juvenil. Adam Pollina y el colorista Matt Hollingsworth aportan diferentes sensibilidades, y el resultado final parece estar influenciado por movimientos artísticos como el fauvismo y el impresionismo. Las representaciones no-naturalistas de Pollina de la anatomía humana añaden profundidad a una historia que enfatiza los elementos inhumanos del cuerpo de Warren. “Último año” es, sin duda, uno de los mejores relatos que podemos encontrar sobre el pasado de los X-Men.


    Originally Published at http://artbyarion.blogspot.com/2014/02/angel-revelations-aguirre-sacasa-pollina.html

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    About the Author - Arion


    Arion, who is either from Chile or New York (it’s not really clear) writes a blog that the Outhouse steals on a regular basis.  Arion is by far the nicest of all the staff writers and the most well behaved only having been banned from one country.  One thing we really appreciate about Aroin is that he writes his reviews in English and Spanish and we hope someday he’ll translate this blurb for us.  We’re not so good at languages, just look at how well we write in English if you need proof.  You should bookmark Arion’s blog -  http://artbyarion.blogspot.com – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.

     


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