Fallen Angel #1-2

Written by Peter David
Penciled by David Lopez
Inked by Fernando Blanco
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

Over a decade ago, Peter David’s comics were one of the reasons why I went to the comic book store every month. Desperate to read the next installment of Incredible Hulk, it was one of the first comics that made me really pay attention to who was writing a book instead of the characters inside. So when DC Comics announced David’s new series Fallen Angel, seeing David’s name still brought back fond memories, and I made sure to give it a proper chance.

In the city of Bete Noire, the days are crime-free and the nights are a dangerous place to be. Doc Juris and his associates run this town, but a red-haired woman known by most as the Fallen Angel seems determined to stop Doc Juris’s control. The problem is, no one really knows anything about the Fallen Angel other than her name, Lee. Is the Fallen Angel the savior of Bete Noire, or just an unknown quantity? And if people discovered just what the Fallen Angel does in her off hours, would they still accept her help?

Fallen Angel is a strange series in that, on the surface, I find myself really wanting to like it. It’s a nice setup; Lee tries to shift the events of Bete Noire into a more pleasing configuration even as Doc Juris pushes in the opposite direction. There’s Lee’s and Juris’s relationship that no one else knows about. There’s real questions as to Lee’s morality. And yet, somehow, it’s just not quite clicking. Maybe it’s because we’re given too much off the bat; by the end of the first issue secrets that seem like they’d be hidden for a couple of issues are already spilled onto the surface. Even worse, that trend seems to continue through the second issue. All the hooks seem to get reeled back far too quickly. It’s a shame because there are a couple of nice bits going on in the background (the police officer/”Nice hat” sequence in the first issue, for instance) and a good setup, but it’s almost as if David is dumbing his stories down instead of giving the reader more credit.

David Lopez and Fernando Blanco’s art reminds me a lot of one of David’s earlier collaborators at DC Comics, Gary Frank. There’s a real clean line to the art here, and one that can focus on faces really well. It’s kind of funny if you think about it, since this is a book where the lead character’s face is obscured for almost the entire comic. It’s a very solid art style, though, and I appreciated the fact that people in this book can be attractive without being supermodels. Toby in the first issue, for instance, is supposed to be a dreamboat and he does look good… but it’s not a ludicrous-looking adonis that you can’t take seriously. Overall, a nice art style that’s able to play to the strengths of the script, even if it also accentuates some of the silliness. (The air horn scene, for instance, which Lopez somehow managed to make look straight out of a Looney Tunes cartoon.)

It’s frustrating, because I really wanted to like Fallen Angel but… I don’t know, it just wasn’t all there. Maybe the arrival of a “Mature Readers” label starting with the third issue will let David cut loose a little more with the darker aspects of the book. I know that in this market place a book moving too slowly can be the kiss of death, but here’s hoping for a bit of a slowdown as well. A little more foreplay can always result in a far greater story climax. Fallen Angel is on sale now at better comic stores everywhere.

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