A woman wakes up on top of a dumpster with no memories of who she is. She's topless, with angel wings tattooed on her back, and as it turns out she's an incredible fighter. In fact, she's one of the deadliest women alive. Very quickly Angel meets Five, a.k.a. Connor, a man who also has amazing fighting skills and who has eidetic kinesthesia – perfect physical memory. After watching a ballet dancer, athlete or killer, Connor can imitate that person's moves precisely. Connor is also on high on the autism scale. He has trouble relating to people in any real way.
Together this unlikely pair are forced to discover the truth behind Angel's memory loss and to learn why she's being hunted, all the while dealing with Conner's autism and disconnect from reality – not to mention a series of gunmen aiming at their heads.
Angel Falling is a Hollywood style action thriller easily seen as a b-movie conspiracy flick starring a couple of actors looking to move up from their TV roles. It mostly takes place on the streets of a major metropolis has a ground-level feel to it. Ordinary people get into fistfights on the streets, ballet studios face the street (and therefore can be copied by Connor), and innocent bystanders can be shot by stray bullets.
The street-level feel is a nice contrast from typical outlandish action comics, and in fact is much more serious than Kaufman's more outlandish Whore, from last year, which was more uninhibited and over-the-top. This book is much more grounded than the flamboyant Whore. It's only in the final action scenes that Angel Falling veers directly into government conspiracies and manipulation.
Kevin West's art is slick and professional, accompanied by several very experienced inkers, but he makes several choices that prevent his storytelling from being a perfect partner to Kaufman's story. There are some scenes staged in ways that I found confusing – one scene where an innocent bystander gets shot required an establishing shot – and a scene inside a Benihana restaurant is very confusing to track as a reader. Also, characters' appearances change in subtle ways, a sign that West needs more practice with his technique. These are fairly small complaints – West mainly does a solidly professional job on the art – but they take a reader out of his experience reading Angel Falling and add confusion to the reading experience.
Jeffrey Kaufman has been creating graphic novels for several years now. Each of his graphic novels adds more characters and situations to his existing universe. This collection of tropes shows up repeatedly in other books, and readers of Whore and Terminal Alice will get a spark of excitement seeing familiar people show up. That's a cute way of adding continuity to a small collection of graphic novels and building a shared universe for returning readers.
The "hook" for Angel Falling is very cool and interesting, but this graphic novel doesn’t quite follow through on its promise. The revelation of Angel's amnesia and wings is disappointing, and the backstory of Five is surprisingly prosaic. But this is a slick action/adventure/government conspiracy comic that does exactly what Kaufman wants it to do. I'd love to watch this movie.