Writer: Bryan Hill
Artist: Szymon Kudranski
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Ashley Witter
Editor: Jordan D. White
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s been an eventful month in the X-Men world, with the launch of a new flagship title and a slew of spinoffs exploring their own, unique concepts. This week’s Fallen Angels #1 is the last of the Dawn of X launch rollout (until Wave 2 hits in February 2020), and it’s perhaps the most peculiar of them all — which is saying a lot.
Borrowing the name of an obscure X-Men offshoot from the ‘80s, Fallen Angels features a very different premise and an unexpected lead character in the form of Kwannon. If you don’t know her by name, you definitely know her face, as it’s the one Betsy Braddock (the new Captain Britain, formerly Psylocke) used for decades until very recently. With Betsy back in her original body, where does that leave the resurrected Kwannon? With her checkered past as a Japanese assassin, does she truly belong in the mutant paradise of Krakoa? That seems to be the major question moving forward with this series: where do you really belong in your life, and does your past define you?
This issue seems to pick up directly after the events of last week’s X-Force #1, and I don’t think you necessarily have to have read that one before this, but it would certainly give you more insight to the current state of the X-Men world. But like I mentioned, it seems Fallen Angels will mostly be using Jonathan Hickman’s overarching plot as a jumping-off point for the themes and character drama to be explored by writer Brian Hill and artist Szymon Kudranski. There’s a creeping, sinister darkness to Hickman’s story thus far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is where a lot of that manifests itself, since it’s very overtly touching on what happens to the people excluded from a specific society.
Fallen Angels also continues the streak of these new X-Men books “feeling” distinct from one another while still playing a part in a larger whole. In comparison to the other Dawn of X titles, this one has a palpable horror sensibility that I wasn’t expecting — especially given the cast of characters, which includes the aforementioned Kwannon as well as X-23 and Kid Cable, with upcoming solicitations signaling the arrival of Husk and Bling soon. These are all mutants who have reasonable claim to feeling ostracized from “mainstream” mutantkind for whatever reason (not “passing” for human, abilities that aren’t useful in combat, a history of killing, etc.), and I’m very interested in seeing how that aspect develops throughout the series. There’s also the potent meta-narrative of Hill, a person of color, being the one to write a series about oppressed minorities who feel marginalized within a minority group that can’t be ignored.
I’d say Hill’s script is a bit stronger than Kudranski’s art, colored here by Frank D’Armata, which comes off as something of a cross between Greg Land and modern Mike Deodato that I’m not totally decided about. I will say the book’s horror-flavored visuals add an interesting dimension to the proceedings that enhance what Hill has written on the page, even if they’re a bit muddy and lacking definition at times. But that speaks more to D’Armata’s colors than Kudranki’s linework. In any event, Fallen Angels has a distinct look from some of the other art seen in Dawn of X, and that has to be commended.
Fallen Angels #1
- Strong themes (who belongs where, etc.) and a natural offshoot of Jonathan Hickman's plot
- Gives an obscure character like Kwannon a much-needed spotlight
- Horror-tinged vibe makes it distinct from the other recent X-Men launches
- Art occasionally looks muddy and undefined
- YMMV depending on how interested you are in Kwannon