Gather round, children. It’s time for Uncle Matt to tell you a story. One which, to be fair, the writer of Fallen Angels #1 does touch upon. But they do so in such a confusing manner, it’s better I explain some things to you.
One upon a time there was a young girl called Kwannon. She was trained as a ninja and suffered greatly, even before she fell off a cliff, suffered severe brain damage and had her body hijacked by a psychic mutant named Betsy Braddock. For years, Kwannon’s spirit was stuck inside of her body, unable to fight back against the intruder or make herself known… until she finally got her body back, keeping the name that Braddock had made for herself in her new body; Psylocke.
(There’s actually a LOT more to the story than that, kids, but this is all you NEED to know. Besides, Uncle Matt really doesn’t want to have to explain all the stuff with the Mojoverse. Don’t ask Uncle Matt about that either.)
Anyway, Psylocke went to the new Mutant homeland of Krakoa with all the other mutants and it was all kinds of awkward. Partly because everyone was friends with Betsy, not her, and was used to associating Betsy with her body. It didn’t help matters that Psylocke was the sort of person for whom paradise is a prison and she soon started going stir-crazy from all the peace and quiet.
Luckily, she was rocked by a vision of a young girl with a butterfly tattoo and amazing powers. A young girl who seemed familiar for some reason. A young girl who needed help and was being menaced by someone called Apoth.
Naturally, few believed Psylocke and even fewer were willing to help. Still, there are plenty of other Mutants who knew what it was to be distrusted and to feel uncomfortable in a place where everything is perfect. Under Psylocke’s command, they will go out into the world in search of this Apoth and a place where they can live without the curse of peace.
Fallen Angels #1 suffers the same problem as most of the new wave of X-Men comics; it assumes the reader is already initiated into the mysteries of the X-Men and does little to explain who all the characters in it are. For instance, X-23 makes a reference to wanting to get out of Logan’s shadow; a comment that only makes sense if you know that X-23 is a clone of Wolverine and that she was Wolverine for a time when Logan was dead. (Also, that Logan is Wolverine’s real name.) Only Psylocke’s background is explored and even that is hardly clear, coming as it does through flashbacks and visions.
I’ve had similar issues with Bryan Hill’s writing in the past. Hill is a great writer of dialogue, but he writes his stories without any accommodation for new readers. His brief run on Detective Comics suffered from similar issues and I was ultimately glad it was as brief as it was.
Thankfully, Fallen Angels‘ artwork redeems the wonkiness of its story. Szymon Kudranski might seem an odd choice for illustrating an X-Men title and certainly his shadowy, detail-driven style is atypical of classic superhero comics. It suits the story of Fallen Angels perfectly, however, and Kudranski’s art further helps to separate the three levels of story we see; the real scenes, the flashbacks and the dream visions. Letterer Joe Sabino and colorist Frank D’Armata also help to differentiate these sections with subtle changes to the word balloons and tints.
For the art alone, I’m willing to recommend Fallen Angels #1. While it may be the most inaccessible of all the new wave of X-Men series, it does have a great hook and Hill does have a solid grasp on most of the characters. If you’re a fan of X-23 who misses All-New Wolverine or a fan of Psylocke curious as to how she’s changed, this book is well worth reading.
Fallen Angels #1 releases on November 13th, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.