Sunday, 13 January 2013

Fallen Angels #1-#8: the Original Misfits

Fallen Angels is an 8-issue 1987 miniseries created by Jo Duffy (writer) and Kerry Gammill (penciller, although not for the entire run). It's not got "X-Men" on the covers (well, not the original covers anyway), but treating it here, as we'll see, is a no-brainer.

Our main X-characters are Bobby (Sunspot) and Warlock, who you know; Theresa Rourke (Siryn), who we just caught up on, and James Madrox (Multiple Man), who we thought we knew. I'd had difficulty seeing Peter David's Madrox in the young James we'd seen before, and this is why: Duffy invents him here. Bobby has run away from the mansion after a tantrum/ostracism escalation, and Terry and Jamie are sent to locate him in the bustle of New York City. They are shown to have a strong pre-existing friendship, and are being written as older than the New Mutants but still teens, perhaps Karma's age. Madrox is still a noob (this is only his second trip to Manhattan), but he quickly becomes a far more confident man than the mouselike chap that Claremont had him. There is even a rogue dupe!

It also picks up Boom Boom and the Vanisher, from X-Factor. Throw in a few new characters: Chance, Gomi, Ariel (who vanished without trace until the X-Office brought her back for 2010's Second Comings), and even a dinosaur, and voil√°. In this it serves as much a prototype for Runaways as anything (Bobby, Warlock and Terry have supervillainry in the family, you'll note), except that Vaughan's group have no Fagin.

To describe it as lacking a strong plot would be entirely true. One of its chief weaknesses is that it's just events happening, with no real overall through-line. And yes, at the end nothing has changed, if you look at it that way. Unless you count that little detail of Bobby's personal growth - the thing that led to the series in the first place. And for all the faults with its dialogue (which are numerous), it manages to portray a much more relevant street scene than Claremont and Simonson are doing with the Morlocks: these are actual people, even the ones who are aliens and technoörganic entities, whereas the Morlocks - even those who are seeing development, such as Masque and Callisto - are treated as the Other, their backgrounds and motivations left obscure. What is missing is the marriage of the two approaches: the working out of the political and social implications of a real mutant subculture: a genuine look at the question "what if there were mutants with special powers? how would society treat them" from the tradition of speculative fiction. I am afraid we're going to have to wait until X-Men #114 before we get it. If not later.

Right, entry done. Now I'm going to watch series 4 episode 8 of Misfits on E4. It's this funny show about a bunch of delinquent youths who got powers in a storm one day. One of them is a chap who makes duplicates of himself which have different personalities. Funny how these things work out.


  1. I've read this maybe once before. I'm not looking forward to revisiting it for my blog, but your analysis has me thinking maybe it's not quite as bad I remember.

    1. It is. I was excessively kind to it because I have a soft spot for Jamie and Terry. It gets lots of the ingredients right, but it forgot to turn the gas on.