Struggles between the new and old are ingrained in the human experience. Magic players see this arise in the form of new cards with each set released for the game. Power level, rarity, creature types, every new card brings up comparisons to the old and conflicts arise in their evaluation.
But what of the reprints? Functionally identical in the player’s hands, they nonetheless introduce new elements to the game with their updated illustrations. Classic images envisioned through the eyes of a new artist come out entirely different, yet whether improvement is achieved is up to the viewer.
Does the original art stand the test of time, or do new images take up the banner of our imagination?
The eternal struggle continues… it’s the Reprint Rumble: From the Vault: Angels!
Classic Genius vs. New Hotness, who will receive the salvation of victory in this heavenly contest? Sides have been drawn, choose your champion!
I’ve heard many people complain about the size of the sword in the new Terese Nielsen art.
Yes, it’s large, but it essentially matches the proportions seen in the original Ron Spears art. Daren took it in a different direction with a long spear/staff, but the FTV sword is simply a fiery version of the weapon seen in Legions. If Akroma is meant to be the ultimate angel I guess it’s only fitting that she wield a huge two handed sword one handed and with obvious ease.
With that out of the way, I’ll focus on the Fury aspect of the art, as I feel that is where the main distinction lies between the two pieces.
Daren Bader delivered an excellent, spicy hot Angel for Planar Chaos. Keeping the palette entirely warm with oranges and reds, it definitely increases the temperature from the Ron Spears art. But does fire only burn in Reds and Oranges? Certainly not.
Fire, once you get it hot enough will start throwing off blues, whites and a variety of shades in-between, which we see with gusto in Terese’s version. While Daren definitely delivered an excellent vision of Akroma, it wasn’t until I saw the new art that I truly felt the hot fire of Akroma’s Fury.
Cooling things down a bit, we have three different visions of the classic Akroma everyone knows and loves. While all three share many of the same elements, each has their own take on this angelic beatstick.
While I always enjoy Terese’s angels, I don’t know if her new vision adds enough to overcome the originals by Ron and Chippy. While her wispy approach worked so well with the unbridled emotion required for Angel of Fury, I don’t know if it fits as well with the essential queen of the angels. Overall I prefer the cleaner, more orderly lines of the first two versions over the FTV art.
Of the two classic versions, I have to give the edge to Ron Spears, mainly because he created it as a diptych with Phage, the Untouchable.
I’m a sucker for continuity in art and I appreciate what Ron was able to achieve with this piece. Yes, the palette is more yellow than white, but Ixidor was a blue mage, so I wouldn’t expect him to deliver a true white on white vision of salvation.
For these Rumbles I always give a special nod to the art that ties in the abilities of the card. Since I don’t see a KTK energy ball or an ONS rock-crab-spider skeleton, I guess the points for Morph will have to go unrewarded.
Yes, the FTV angel has what appears to be a tablecloth over her head, but until we see that as a canon representation of the Morph ability I will have to chalk that up to her flying through some hanging laundry on her vault upwards. No points… for Morph, at least. The proto-Lifelink, however, is another matter entirely.
All three versions deliver excellent angels, but both of the classic illustrations could just as easily appear as any generic Angel art. Swords, poleaxes and face paint hardly imply effecting life totals beyond beating face, which can’t really be said about the new art by Tyler Jacobson.
Aerial laundry mishaps aside, the darker palette and somber mood lighting lend a spookier, more spirit-esque feel to the piece that is absent in the original arts. While spooky and spiritual is a bit of a stretch to show a relationship to gaining life, it’s near that wheelhouse.
All three Angels are well executed and I wouldn’t fault anyone that preferred either of the classic versions over my pick but I feel that the FTV art comes a bit closer to the spirit of the card and give the round to New Hotness.
Man, this one is almost a toss up, especially since they are both depicting essentially the same scene with a few lighting and camera perspective differences.
Well, and the wings, and honestly, the more I look at them, the more polarizing they become.
Looking at the Zendikar art, the wings are huge, but they make sense. They fit within the expectations that Magic has created in my mind for angel wings. Sure, in the real world there is no chance they could send Iona aloft, but, overall, they work. Sadly, I don’t know if the same can be said about the wings of the original Iona.
While the wings of the FTV Iona do a great job of framing the piece and draw your eye to the resting angel, the anatomy is super weird upon closer inspection.
Wings, especially angel wings in Magic, are typically symmetrical, but if you look at the spacing of the middle set of wings, it appears that one side is much longer than the other. Not only that, but the left upper wing appears to have detached from Iona and gone floating up in the sky.
Maybe my sense of perspective is just being thrown by the camera angle, but it certainly looks a bit off to me and I have to give this round to the more classical approach of Classic Genius.
The new art art by Ryan Alexander Lee is an amazing example of the detail and nuance that can be lost in the transition to card size from a full size image.
When I initially saw the new Iridescent Angel, I wasn’t an immediate fan. Then I saw the full scale art.
With more room to breath, the under developed background instead reveals an over exposed film effect, the weird lighting becomes brilliant lens flair rainbows of doom, the diminutive flying stick figure on a white backdrop becomes a fully realized character against a foreground being shattered by his very presence. The difference made is essentially 1000%.
The more I look at the image, the more I appreciate what the artist was able to capture.
Showing the angel in stark detail surrounded by a blurred and gritty opposition is something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in Magic before. Ryan is putting his computer to work with art like this and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us in the future. Easy win for New Hotness.
Yes, I know this art appeared as an oversized magazine promo many years ago, but this is the first time it’s ever been printed as a tourney legal Magic card and as such it qualifies to Rumble. Have an issue with that? Too bad.
That sad, it has to be Alpha all the way.
Nostalgia much? Maybe, but only because the original Serra angel is just so darn good. Doug Shuler was able to capture something very unique with the Alpha art and while each of the subsequent versions have added on to his vision, the simplicity and elegance of the original gets me every time.
The Alpha Serra may be the piece I would most like to have hanging on my wall, but sadly that dream will never be as it was lost by Wizards many years ago, likely never to be seen again. I guess I will have to console myself by giving this round to Classic Genius.
While we here at OMA score it 3-3, a very closely contested tie, we won’t know who the eventual winner will be until we hear from you so vote early, vote often for your favorite art!
Remember that every piece of art that is made for the game is a unique glimpse into the world of Magic and should be celebrated. The amount of time and effort that goes into each illustration should be appreciated every time a core set booster is opened.
Each set provides a brand new opportunity to tell a story and capture the imagination of the players. Thanks go out to everyone involved in this creative process and I look forward to seeing the contestants for the next Reprint Rumble.
Until next time!