"Little Better Than a Beast"
Writer: Peter David
Artists: David Lopez(p), Fernando Blanco(i), Nathan Eyring(c)
Dull, padded (no pun intended) and ill conceived, this issue of Fallen Angel lives up to its name. I say fallen, that is. In previous issues, Peter David built up a delicious mystery regarding Lee, the title character. Now, he throws off the cloak and make me wonder if DC hasn't thrown in the towel with regard to publishing the comic book.
Lee has scars on her shoulder blade. Gee, I wonder what can they possibly signify? Perhaps The Wings of Desire poster on Lee's wall can sledgehammer the meaning behind the scars a little more bluntly. Next, Mr. David will be putting in lyrics to the theme to The Greatest American Hero and Bette Midler's melodramatic opus.
Even were we to dismiss these obvious clues, scenes of Fallen Angel Domesticus shatter the mystique David previously built around her. Maybe this was Mr. David's intention. If so, it was in my opinion a mistake. The ambiguity of her origins was a draw.
Lee attempts to wash bloodstains off her costume. Hasn't she a spare? In my opinion, such scenes only work for low-rent super-heroes such as Spidey. This is not to say that Spidey isn't a fun character. I mean that he literally has to worry about paying the rent. Lee's sudden appearances and disappearances, the fact that we didn't know much about her even with the secret identity kept me reading. And socks. Never, ever depict a super-hero in socks. I am not anti-sock. I wear socks. Socks are a great invention. They keep the tootsies warm, but I'm comfortable not knowing whether Batman or the eighth Doctor wear socks beneath their boots. Socks just look silly. Think about it. Did the Shadow wear socks? Imagine if you will: broad-brimmed hat, pulled down over ice-blue eyes, hawk-nose, Sterenko red scarf fluttering in the night winds, flaming girasol, ink-black clothing, twin automatics and dirty gray socks! Ruins the image, doesn't it? I don't care how hollow and chilling that laughter may be; once a thug sees those socks, he's the one that will be laughing. We see our "mysterious" Fallen Angel with her boobs crushed against the lip of a tub trying to wash out bloodstains, and she's also wearing little gray socks! Mystique, this is Window. Window, this is mystique.
One mystery Mr. David creates never should have been formed. Spoiler Ahoy!
Slate enters Fallen Angel's home. How does he know where she lives? How did he get in? Did he follow her? How? She has super-speed and usually takes to the rooftops. Another question. How does Slate--a normal human--survive being shoved throught a wall? Let's say he got real lucky and did manage to live through the assault. Maybe he hit the right spot allowing all the probability to fall in his favor. He should at least be unconscious, but Mr. David makes him quite garrulous afterwards.
David also seems to be in a talkative mood this issue. Not only does he practically say "Look, here are Lee's origins. Super, aren't they?" He can't even shut up about the boat incident last issue. He left it up in the air with maybe Lee blowing up Asia's boat, or maybe a karmic payback from one of Asia's dissatisfied customers. David has her admit to it. Mystique? None.
Apart from a falling brickload of revelations, Fallen Angel's plot pace degrades from lightning quick to molasses slow. No one dies. The big battle sequence--and not with the invisible monster--lacks punch. The scenes between one of the victim's parents and Lee do nothing more than extend the page count. The whole midsection of the book has no reason to exist, and the plot twist isn't of the "that's clever variety" but the "where the hell did that come from" sort. That the info is obtained in an absolutely useless, long-winded setpiece makes me resent this issue even more.
The dialogue in this issue of Fallen Angel is ridiculous:
"She was an innocent. Innocents are like potato chips: a quick snack and it never stops with just one." Yeah, yeah, and "life is like a box of chocolates..."
"This was the hand. The hand that took the money. It deserves to die." The 'bots should be throwing popcorn at the panels.
"What I feel now....feels like an orchestra run amok."
What! An "orchestra running amok!" They do this when? A rush to the lavatory during intermission?
This issue of Fallen Angel is "suggested for mature readers."
"You think I care because you saw my tits?"
Lee could have said breasts with no problem, and I'm thinking it would be more in character to do so. Of course, it would have been more likely for her not to say anything at all. Here's a thought why not remove the scene altogether? (Pun not intended) Lee's reaction upon discovering somebody has seen her "tits" is so over the top and nonsensical that the words shock value might as well have been written across the pages. The scene is emblematic of what's wrong with this issue of Fallen Angel. It tries too hard to be "edgy" and live up to that stupid "mature readers" banner. Through the nudity and the histrionics, it becomes neither mature or for a reader. I can throw a dart at the comic book rack and hit a comic book just like this issue.
David Lopez's artwork suffers as well because of Mr. David's ill change of pace and obvious characterization. The segue on the second page is just plain goofy. Wine pouring into a glass in one panel becomes a bathroom faucet in the next. Dum-dum-dum! Lee's face on page three looks distorted with effort, yet she should be able to tie a rope to her quarry's waist and use him like a Yo-Yo. Last issue she lifted a forklift. She looks in this scene like a truck driving mama from sixties and seventies exploitation pictures. After her quarry lies broken, the last bit of her we see leaving the bathroom are those stupid socks. On the next page, the mood goes noir only to dispel the atmospheric with another "riveting" scene of Lee wearing those stupid, stupid socks.
Every book has a clunker. Hopefully this will be Fallen Angel's last.
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