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Nov 29

Fallen Angels #2 annotations

Posted on Friday, November 29, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

As always, page numbers are from the digital edition, and this will contain spoilers.

COVER / PAGE 1. Psylocke (Kwannon), X-23 and Cable next to a cage full of children who they’re presumably about to rescue.

PAGES 2-5. Flashback. Pre-Psylocke Kwannon meets Yama, who’s on the run and wants her help, but she kills him and then fights two gunmen.

The other two gunmen are presumably the people Yama was on the run from. The general thrust of the scene, though, is that Kwannon is deeply unimpressed with Yama, who is trying to get out of the game, something that she sees (at this stage in her life) as generally disreputable and disastrous behaviour. As for why she kills the others, that’s presumably covered in the second flashback in the issue, when she explains that she read Yama’s mind and was touched by his desire to protect his wife and unborn son.

“The blade of Nyoirin. Matsu’o’s prize.” This must be fairly shortly before she gets body swapped with Psylocke. Nyoirin is the crimelord she was working for; Matsu’o Tsurayaba was her boyfriend.

PAGES 6-7. Credits and recap. The title is “Shoto”, which is a kind of Japanese sword.

PAGES 8-9. X-23 asks Psylocke for help in harnessing and controlling her anger.

This feels like a bit of a throwback in terms of X-23’s character, though Bryan Hill does make a point of saying that she puts on an act. Still, dialogue like “There is an anger in me. A rage. I gave up any hope that someone could possibly understand it” won’t be for everyone. Anyway, Kwannon is indeed willing to help train X-23 but warns that “every master is a slave”, presumably because her idea of mastery – or at least the one she knows how to teach – involves an irrevocable commitment to a way of life. More of this later. It’s certainly very debatable whether Kwannon is in any position to be offering psychological mentoring.

PAGES 10-13. Cable has found an Overclock slave labour village in Sāo Mateus, but Psylocke only wants to go after Apoth himself, not his facilities. Cable decides to go alone.

Sāo Mateus. While the dialogue seems to suggest it’s a village, Sāo Mateus, Brazil, is a municipality with a population of over 128,000. Presumably Cable means it’s a village somewhere in the vicinity. It’s apparently run by tripod robots and masked gunmen. Cable is conspicuously vague about how he knows about the place, why he had a contact there, who that contact was, or how Cable found out that his contact was dead. Bear in mind that this version of Cable has only just come back from the far future and really shouldn’t have many contacts just yet.

“Every time we leave Krakoa we risk turning it against us.” It’s not at all clear why Psylocke thinks this. Perhaps she figures that any missions connected with Apoth run the risk of exposing her alliance with Mr Sinister – but it seems weird that she talks about turning Krakoa itself against them.

The Carousel. Fallen Angels likes coming back to the Carousel, probably because Krakoa fits the mood better at night when everything is lit by fire, but also because this happy-clappy stuff is precisely what makes the title characters feel left out there. Dazzler gets to be the voice of mainstream Krakoa this time. Kwannon’s response that “Joy doesn’t make everyone happy” isn’t as contradictory as it first seems, since Dazzler was talking about the joy of other people.

PAGE 14-15. A data page about the Hand, who are presumably being presented as Kwannon’s previously-unspecified trainers. The Hand are a mystical ninja cult who were introduced in Daredevil in 1981 and have become mainstays of the Marvel Universe; their main X-Men involvement comes via Wolverine, but Matsu’o Tsurayaba was also a member. Note, though, that when Kwannon first showed up, she wasn’t working for the Hand – the whole point of her relationship with Matsu’o was that they were on opposite sides. In Fallen Angels‘ terms, it was also a departure from simply acting as someone else’s weapon, which might suggest that Matsu’o’s role is going to be a turning point in her life that was starting to set her on a different path just before Psylocke showed up to derail everything.

The small print suggests that we’re dealing with the Madripoor sect of the Hand, which has splinter groups all over the place (i.e., it appears in loads of stories that don’t really fit together).

The thrust of the Hand philosophy as set out here is that assassins like Kwannon should see themselves as tools, not worry about what they’re being used for (in the guise of showing humility), recognise that the word is an unjust place, and generally be comfortable with doing what their told. It’s not a worldview likely to go down well with X-23, whose whole character is about being created as a weapon and transcending that upbringing.

PAGES 16-19. Flashback. Pre-Psylocke Kwannon rescues a doctor from attackers and helps her escape Japan.

Unhelpfully, the dialogue never actually specifies that this is Yama’s wife, but that seems to be the implication – at any rate, the two flashbacks make much more sense if read that way. The point seems to be that Kwannon has much more sympathy for Yama’s wife, who was not part of their subculture and is not deserting it.

The scene ends with some more flashbacks to Kwannon’s upbringing in the philosophy described above, returning to the butterfly symbol from the previous issue. Kwannon – at least in the past – sees the transformation into a butterfly as accompanying a loss of self.

PAGE 20. Psylocke and Mr Sinister talk about butterflies.

As before, Sinister wants to ask seemingly pointless questions in exchange for his assistance. Either he’s got some practical interest in this, or he’s just an emotional sadist.

This scene acknowledges that butterflies were already associated with Betsy Braddock before the body swap; Kwannon claims to have been upset by the fact that they had a common symbol and the implication that there was some sort of destiny linking them together.

PAGE 21. Psylocke joins Cable and X-23 in Cable’s safehouse.

X-23 clearly went along with him anyway. At any rate, this is one of those scenes that is likely to cut across many people’s readings of both Cable and X-23 – does he really need to be taught about war when he grew up in one? And does she really need to be taught about rage? It’s a throwback approach to both characters, more in service of Kwannon’s arc than their own. Still, at least Kwannon acknowledges here that she needs to learn from them in order to be a mentor.

PAGES 22-24. The Fallen Angels go to rescue the villagers and confront a giant robot.

Pretty straightforward, though Cable does make a point of being surprised that he didn’t see the attack coming.

PAGES 25-26. The trailer reads NEXT: COCOON.

Bring on the comments

  1. Mikey says:

    Either the characterization here is boring (Kwannon’s emotionally detached ninja stuff) or regressive (Cable needing to learn about war? X-23 controlling rage?)

    And the data pages were more of a chore than helpful.

  2. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    So after two issues of every title Fallen Angels is the worst of the bunch for me, despite starring one of my favourite characters (Laura, obviously). I even liked Brisson’s take on Kid Cable, what there was of it. And I think there could be interesting aspects to explore with Kwannon. But so far this book does nothing for me.

  3. Ben says:

    Yeah, this is all around bad.

    Won’t be returning for another issue.

  4. Chris V says:

    I have no interest in this or Excalibur.

    Marauders and X-Force improved with their second issues.
    I was always planning to read X-Men and New Mutants.
    Although X-Men better improve greatly after its second issue, which was a huge step down from the first issue.

    So far, New Mutants is the strongest book.

  5. CJ says:

    Yeah, this was a chore to read. I skipped the data pages for the first time, and then the cliffhanger with a giant robot produced zero interest in coming back.

    It would’ve been a better idea to stick the covert black ops stuff in X-Force (wow, imagine that) as a side-plot.

    The casual glance between Kwannon and Betsy in Excalibur #1 was more interesting than both issues so far.

  6. Adrian says:

    This is the worst launch book so far (although it has stiff competition from X-Men). Aside from the regressive and generic X-23 and Cable characterization, it is jarring to see such a different take on Cable vs X-Men.

    The art is terrible. Facial expressions are almost as bizarre as Greg Land. The body postures even worse. That panel with the explosion was hilarious. Like dolls thrown in the air. Even the coloring. Why is everything so dim. As if it is trying too hard to be dark and edgy.

    The story is weak too. There is a good idea in here with Kwannon but execution is D grade Kill Bill. Trying to fit Krakoa into this story just doesn’t work either. Why would Krakoa care about what Kwannon is up to? How would it know?

  7. Joseph S. says:

    If we’re being charitable, it makes sense for there to be a book that features Sinister and some of the more questionable characters. But as everyone else is saying, this doesn’t work at all. Laura’s character just doesn’t make any sense. Logan is back. She was Wolverine. She grew so much. Even Age of X-Man went ok for her. Where is Gaby by the way?

  8. Taibak says:

    Dazzler being enthusiastic about Krakoa is probably another example of the creators not thinking this through. I mean, she wouldn’t be the first celebrity to join some weird cult, but she’s one of the people on the island with the most to lose from this. If Krakoa gets upset every time someone leaves the island, she can’t tour. If technology generally isn’t allowed, she can’t record.

    Granted, we’ve seen her run off with the X-Men in the past, but would she really be willing to risk her career over this?

  9. Voord 99 says:

    Dazzler being enthusiastic about Krakoa is a brilliant pre-emptive act of trolling aimed at these comment threads.

  10. SanityOrMadness says:

    Am I the only one who read “turn Krakoa against us” as referring to Krakoa-the-nation, not Krakoa-the-fauna?


    Per Rosenberg’s Astonishing X-Men, Dazzler career was in the toilet anyway.

  11. Chris V says:

    Yeah, if everyone hates mutants so much, and Dazzler has been outed as a mutant, who is going to attend her concerts or buy her records anyway?
    “Well, sure, I want to see all mutants killed, but that Dazzler girl has some really cool music!”

    Fellow mutants might have been the only people still buying her music, and they’re all on Krakoa now.

  12. Arrowhead says:

    This whole “Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters” thing is an obvious example of the creators not thinking this through. Why would you ever send your child to a school for child soldiers – that literally has its own graveyard for students murdered by terrorists – that has on its staff dozens of serial killers, mercenaries and war criminals? This is unforgivably stupid behavior.

    This whole “hated and feared by a world they’re sworn to protect” thing is an obvious example of the creators not thinking this through. Why are should we see mutants like any other unjustly persecuted minority, when many have the power to literally level a building just by thinking about it? Why shouldn’t parents demand a cure for the X-gene, if their teenager’s mutant activation might turn them into a living atomic bomb at any moment? Why should humans trust any mutants when the most prominent public mutants are constantly switching sides, being possessed by malevolent forces, and waging battles that level entire city districts? This is unforgivably stupid behavior.

  13. wwk5d says:

    @Voord 99

    You win the internet for the day.

  14. wwk5d says:

    “Why should humans trust any mutants when the most prominent public mutants are constantly switching sides, being possessed by malevolent forces, and waging battles that level entire city districts?”

    Well, I’m Arab, and the most prominent Arabs in the West are dictators and terrorists. As an Arab, should I be judged by those same standards?

  15. Jason says:

    “Dazzler being enthusiastic about Krakoa is a brilliant pre-emptive act of trolling aimed at these comment threads.”


  16. Joseph S. says:

    @Voord Zing!

    @wwk5d that’s a fair point regarding mutants in general. But the point still stands regarding sending ones mutant children to the school. But I also think it’s best not too push these expectations of realism too far.

  17. Dazzler says:

    Heh heh

  18. Michael says:

    Well, I think I just found the Friends of Humanity sympathizer in our midst…

  19. Michael says:

    Less “Friends of Humanity” and more “If There Is A Risk My Child Might Suddenly Spontaneously Combust For No Reason Then Yes, I Would Like To Prevent This If Possible.”

    Also a supporter of the Superhero Registration Act, because it seems unwise to permit anonymous vigilantes to selectively enforce the law without training, oversight or accountability, especially when equipped with projectile energy powers that for all intents and purposes are identical to guns.

    Also cofounder of the “Reed Richards and Tony Stark Should Put Mjolnir In a Generator and Solve the Energy Crisis” Foundation.

  20. Chris V says:

    Yeah, the problem is that you are supposed to read these things in the context of civil liberties.
    I do.

    However, if you were actually living in the Marvel Universe an individual’s perspective may be different.

    It’s sort of be like expecting the government to regulate nuclear weapons.
    It’s not a matter of, “Oh, you don’t want an Arab person to own a nuclear bomb?”
    “Well, no. I really don’t think anyone should own a nuclear weapon!”.

  21. Arrowhead says:

    Er, that last Michael comment was me. Apologies for the misattribution.

  22. Si says:

    I do like how while in the comics Shadowcat’s powers are generally seen as passive and friendly, the first movie used her as an example of the scariest mutants can get. A good bunker will keep you safe from Wolverine and Cyclops, but nothing can stop one girl coming into your room and murdering you.

  23. Taibak says:

    Si: Along similar lines, the best thing about X-Men: The Last Stand was actually having Rogue make the sensible choice and have her powers switched off permanently. You know, so she doesn’t have to be a danger to herself and others.

  24. Col_Fury says:

    Yeah, this one’s not working for me. Kwannon is basically a shell of a character, so at least we’re earning stuff about her… But X-23 has essentially been regressed and I kid Cable has nothing that interests me.

    Also, Kwannon’s already set to appear in a new book the month after this one ends:

    Havok is in his good costume (on the cover at least), so that makes me happy. And is that Nanny and the Orphan-Maker?!?

  25. Adrian says:

    I think those are right. Vulcan at the bottom, Sinister above him and a hooded guy with a gun could maybe be Bishop.

    Weird team composition.

  26. wwk5d says:

    That just screams “Lets just throw whatever we can at the wall and hope it sticks”.

  27. Dave says:

    “If Krakoa gets upset every time someone leaves the island”
    The island, or the nation?
    Is it true either way? I’ve missed that, or forgotten it. I thought they were having to sneak out because of the lockdown, and because they might be killing people.

    It was pretty clear from “Your husband lied to protect you” that the doctor was Yama’s wife.

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