|REVIEW 2-- "FALLEN ANGEL" ISSUE ONE
||[05 Sep 2003|02:02am]
This is a full-color, 22-page monthly comic book published by DC. Written by Peter David, art by David Lopez and Fernando Blanco. I picked this comic book to review for a couple reasons-- I wanted to review some mainstream titles, and I wanted to start with a first issue so I wouldn't be too confused by a continuing storyline. But otherwise, I would have to say this was pretty much a random choice off the shelf.
"Fallen Angel" is a superhero comic, like most comics from DC. Now I feel obliged right up front to say superheroes are not of much interest to me, but that's not to say I'm unfamiliar with them. It's just not my favorite genre. It's rare that I would pay money for one, but I do read them when I come across one that looks interesting. It seems like an anomaly to be an American comic book reader who has to say up front "I don't really care for superheroes". My attitude is entirely ambivalent; I have neither the sneering hatred for it common among many alt-comic fans, nor the gosh-wow starry-eyed love for it most American mainstream comic fans have. Even as a child I would only read superhero comics if someone gave one to me, but then when I was a child (many years ago) there were actually other types of comics to choose from. Not a LOT, and superheroes even then were the vast majority, but still, there WERE other choices for a child confronted with a "Hey Kids! Comics" rack at the local drugstore.
Now that I've gotten my personal disclaimer out of the way, let me continue with the review. This is the story of a woman named Lee, who has the nickname "Fallen Angel" given to her by the residents of Bete Noire, a hellish little city where there are no police whatsoever. Lee is a superhero, but to be honest I am still unclear as to what her powers are. She obviously has super strength and (apparently) impenetrable skin, like Superman, but in the opening scene she avoids assassination by... uh... I'm really not sure. She sees the assassin aiming the rifle at her from a window, and the next thing you know the glass in the rifle's scope explodes in his eye. So I guess she has telekinesis too. The assassination was ordered by Doctor Juris, the master criminal who runs the town of Bete Noire. Now one might ask oneself, "if everyone in Bete Noire knows Lee is a superhero with impenetrable skin, why would they try to shoot her with a rifle?" We are given an explanation at the end of the issue as to why Doctor Juris is not really out to kill Lee, but why would the gunman agree to the job? Was he new to town? Was he not aware his target was a superhero? I don't know.
Anyway. Lee goes to a bar, where she is hired by a "woman of a certain age" to find her son, who she believes is a male prostitute in Bete Noire. So Lee goes to visit the local boy-brothel and demands to speak to the guy. (This is a grown man we're talking about here, not some 13 year old runaway. Just wanted to let you know). For some reason the pimp who runs the brothel refuses to let her see the guy, and immediately calls in some of his henchmen (who look like some bad-ass S&M male prostitutes) to get rid of her. Of course, she's a superhero and they're not, so she kicks their asses. (This is where we see the super strength and impenetrable skin-- I GUESS that's how she broke the pimp's knives with her bare hands, anyway.) Then she finds the male prostitute and reunites him with his "mom", who is really his first client and not his mom, and "mom" goes nuts and yadda yadda yadda. I guess we're supposed to feel bad about the poor old lady whose young loverboy walked out on her to sell himself to more old ladies, but all I could think reading it was, "Don't they know that male prostitutes' clientele is pretty much 100% MALE?"
This comic is sort of a strange bird. I'm not entirely sure who the audience is for it. I mean, it's a mainstream comic, sold on the shelves for direct sales, so it's obviously meant for a general audience. But it has male prostitutes and people getting shot and henchmen wearing leather zipper hoods. But then it's not really dirty or even overly violent, either. It seems a little too seedy to be read by children, yet too... shall we say, naive... for a more mature reading audience.
The setting, the town of Bete Noire, is kind of interesting in a sort of mythical way-- no police force? Someone should write to the congressman for that district, if you ask me. But then, maybe this isn't America at all. It's vague, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. But other than the setting, there really wasn't much to hang your hat on in this issue. Lee is just a hot chick in a Little Red Riding Hood getup, and Doctor Juris is just another Evil Businessman Who Controls Everything character. Nobody has any motivations that are particularly well-defined, with the exception of the old broad who wants her boytoy back and she's not exactly a recurring character, if you get my drift. I guess we're supposed to want to keep reading to find out what everyone's motives are for staying in Bete Noire, but it's hard to imagine anyone caring enough about it to bother.
The artwork is okay; pretty much par-for-the-course modern DC artwork, really. Not a lot of style or innovation, but readable and the colors are nice. Workmanlike, I guess you'd call it. Some of the faces tend to look distorted, in a "not on purpose" way, and with the exception of a few panels on the second page, I don't think the art really captures the mysterious bleakness of Bete Noire as much as it could. I mean, this is obviously a pretty weird place, but it just doesn't come off that way visually. But, the colors ARE nice.
All in all this isn't a terrible comic, but it isn't especially good, either. I can't see it sustaining anyone's interest throughout a whole lot of issues.