Fallen Angels was one of the titles that launched directly after the events of House of X and Powers of X. It competed directly with titles X-Men, Marauders, New Mutants and Excalibur. Unlike these titles that featured popular X-Men characters in large teams, Fallen Angels focused primarily on Kwannon as Psylocke, X-23, and Young Cable.
When Fallen Angels was released, it was met with mediocre reviews. Many critics (and many of my peers) said it wasn’t worth reading. The biggest problem with this book is within its story structure — the beginning of this run is much stronger than its end. The story itself is confusing and hard to follow, which may have been intentional to reflect the confusion that Kwannon is experiencing as a character. Unfortunately, it makes it tough on the reader.
Fallen Angels features Kwannon (previously known as “Revanche”) taking back her title as Psylocke. For those of you who may be new to some of the X-Men’s more nonsense storylines, Betsy Braddock and Kwannon switched bodies early on in the comic books. For most of the run of X-Men, “Psylocke” was actually Betsy Braddock. Kwannon has returned to her body and her life as Psylocke, which is the central focus of this story.
Kwannon is paired up with X-23 and young Cable to help her fight… a ghost-like, possibly imaginary, half-human, half-machine God-person. Yes, you read that right. It’s confusing and it does not make a lot of sense; however, every representation of this character is presented in a very cool way whether it be through children, robotic Hell creature, a sentient holographic being, or a cloaked figure.
In fact, all of the art in Fallen Angels is absolutely gorgeous. Szymon Kudranski and Frank D’Armarta created beautiful pages that tell a very gothic and emotional story diving deep into the psyche of Kwannon. It’s almost as if Fallen Angels was an art piece that was illustrated, and then later on someone in Marvel decided “Hey, let’s put some dialogue on that!”
While the actual story itself may be confusing to read, Bryan Hill did masterfully write these characters’ personalities and their relationships to one another. X-23, who entered the X-Men universe as a socially awkward killing machine, has grown over the years into a formidable and compassionate leader. In Fallen Angels, Kwannon turns to her to learn friendship and compassion. There is a beautiful moment toward the end of the book in which these two characters part ways, X-23 gives Kwannon a hug and says that she is willing to come to her aid should she ever need it. It was a clever pairing, putting these two inventions of war together.
Hill also writes a fantastic Mr. Sinister. While Sinister has always been a character known for is upper-class snark, often times the reader does not get to see what makes him tick. Through Hill’s dialogue, we actually get to see this for Mr. Sinister.
“Why, Psylocke? Why care what happens to them? Apoth can’t come here. Let him infect the world. You owe it nothing,” Mr. Sinister says, a harrowing look into why his path was a descent into madness – because the world hurt him bad enough to not trust it anymore.
There are also some interesting moments where Kwannon and Betsy encounter each other, even in brief passing. As the reader gets to see in this story, these two characters may despise each other after being trapped in the wrong bodies for so long, but they are actually very similar in their mannerisms. It is an interesting parallel to draw and exploring that would have made for an interesting story.
Kwannon on her own has not merited her own title series, but despite that, Bryan Hill does a decent job at exploring her story.
Is this story worth reading? Yes, but be prepared for this story to feel more like an art piece than an X-Men comic book. It feels like it doesn’t fit the greater X-Men universe, and honestly more like a story that would be told within the Authority or an episode of Ghost in the Shell.
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