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Dec 22

Fallen Angels #4 annotations

Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2019 by Paul in Uncategorized

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are by the digital edition. And to be honest, there’s not all that much to say about this issue, annotations-wise…

COVER/PAGE 1. X-23 and Cable on the run from… some sort of weird shadowy things.

PAGE 2. Flashback. Young Kwannon is shown a dying man who was poisoned while trying to broker peace.

The moral, presumably, being “nice guys finish last.”

PAGES 3-6. Psylocke and X-23 discuss what to do.

Reasonably enough, X-23 has concluded that the whole scenario is being engineered by Apoth to lure Psylocke/Kwannon in, and that this means Psylocke shouldn’t trust the vision that she had in issue #1. For some reason X-23 suggests asking the other Psylocke for help, though it’s not clear what Betsy could really contribute, and it feels more like an excuse to raise her name so that Psylocke/Kwannon can reject her again.

We still don’t know who was responsible for Psylocke’s vision in issue #1, but it both described Apoth as a god (consistent with Apoth’s self-image), and also compared itself to God (saying that Psylocke should follow its directions in the same way that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son). That voice directed Psylocke to kill Apoth, and gave a reasonably accurate explanation of Apoth’s agenda (“by peace shall he unite all and destroy many”). An obvious reading is that the voice was a self-destructive aspect of Apoth himself, or maybe just Apoth lying to Psylocke to draw her in. Apoth has certainly acted inconsistently throughout this series – we’re told repeatedly in this issue that he regards Psylocke as his mother, but in issue #1 he told her to go back to her “exile” on Krakoa and “leave me to my peace.” In issue #3, he also said that he “keep[s] leading her to me”.

“I am being led. But so is all of Krakoa.” Psylocke believes that the Krakoan society is all being manipulated by Xavier, and she’s probably right. She says that Krakoa has given everyone their freedom at the cost of removing their will – presumably she means their motivation to set their own direction, rather than literally suggesting that mind control is involved. At any rate, Psylocke either isn’t bothered by the thought of being led, or decides that following the trail is the best way of bringing matters to a head.

PAGES 7-8. Credits and recap. This is “Shikatsu” by Bryan Hill and Szymon Kuranski. The title means “life and death”.

PAGE 9-11. The wraith thingie talks to Cable.

His speech hits the post-humanity themes that are now familiar in the Hickman era. He has a weird religious worldview which involves humans being abandoned by the “god of humanity”, which is replaced first by mutants and latterly by post-humanity. He wants Cable to deliver a message to Psylocke that Apoth is her child, and wants her love.

PAGES 12-23. Psylocke confronts Apoth, and Apoth reveals his origin.

Apoth basically backs up the claim that it regards Psylocke as its mother, and that it wants Psylocke’s love and attention. Apoth takes Psylocke’s hand and we get a weird energy effect leading into…

Flashback to Apoth’s origins. Young Kwannon was sent to destroy the newly-created Apoth, which is implies to be some sort of recently-activated AI. Apoth persuades Kwannon not to kill it, though we don’t hear what it said. Apoth regards Kwannon as giving it life – hence the mother stuff – and then grows over the years until it finally escapes into the wider internet. At that point it reads the Bible and decides that it is god.

The gist seems to be that Apoth is a childlike AI that both yearns for Psylocke as a pseudo-mother and believes itself to be a God who will bring about a single global consciousness, ostensibly to create peace, but mainly because he’s lonely. Apoth seems to promise that he will seize a city as his next step, but lets the remaining kids go because he’s so happy that Psylocke listened to him.

We’re not told why Kwannon was sent to destroy Apoth, but given how Apoth turned out, it may not have been the worst idea in the world.

At the end of the scene, Psylocke has some sort of vision of a glowing figure that X-23 apparently can’t see or hear. It’s not immediately recognisable, but the glowing effect is similar to the one used for Apoth’s AI cube in its origin flashback.

PAGES 24-25. Data pages containing a transcript of an interview with Dr Nakamoto, an AI scientist. Nakamoto appears to have created an AI which is intended to automate lots of things in order to remove inefficient human intervention. He’s a massive techno-optimist and rejects the idea that he’s creating anything godlike or dangerous. The implication seems to be that this is the project that created Apoth.

PAGES 26-27. Reading order and trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: PUPA.

Bring on the comments

  1. Col_Fury says:

    So Kwannon is supposed to be the “boss” here, and X-23 is supposed to be learning from her. But it turns out that Kwannon is stupid and X-23 was right all along. Surprise!

    What if the Apoth/kid Cable merger turns out to be the origin of the Transmode virus? eh, probably not.

    …the Transmode virus was originally from the future, right? Now I’ll have to flip thru those X-Factor issues where baby Nathan was infected…

    No new X-books until next year, folks!

  2. Col_Fury says:

    Techno-Organic Virus, not Transmode virus. And it was current-day Apocalypse that infected him, so I was way off. Oh well. 🙂

  3. Alan L says:

    “So Kwannon is supposed to be the “boss” here, and X-23 is supposed to be learning from her. But it turns out that Kwannon is stupid and X-23 was right all along. Surprise!”

    Yeah, the X-23 in Target X seems like a way more focused and effective assassin than Kwannon will ever be. And, to my mind, a way more interesting character, to boot.

    I think it’s a real shame that between the writers and editorial they decided that, rather then be inspired by the quirky tone of the original “Fallen Angels” series, they instead opted for a kind of inversion of the original series, keeping only the idea that the heroes are aggrieved, excising even the detail that they are for the most part aggrieved rebels in the original series––Kwannon and X-23 come off as bad-tempered more than rebels, and young Cable doesn’t really seem to know why he’s even there. The inversion they go with––that everything is literally dark and deadly serious––means a miserable tone for the series so far, a tone that seems like a parody of the sort of mid-2000s dark intensity this series has adopted as a style. It seems like it’s being both written and drawn to an Evanescence soundtrack, like in the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie. And honestly, X-23 should be teaching Kwannon how to be a better assassin. Honestly, trying to ape the original concept of the Jo Duffy Fallen Angels series would be far richer ground to jump off from for this series, and no less unoriginal than what they’ve gone with.

    What’s more, the actual storyline is more than uncannily reminiscent of the puppet-master storyline from Ghost in the Shell (a late chapter in the original manga, and the subject of both the animated and live-action films). Fallen Angels gives us a story in which a rogue A.I. breaks free of its programming and falls in love with a perfect lady assassin, who is its ticket to freedom on the net through a weird kind of mating procedure. There’s also an earlier storyline in the Ghost in the Shell manga where a kid seems to “overclock” after getting hacked by Kusanagi while working in a child slave farm, which seems pretty close to the whole “overclock” angle of the Fallen Angels story. This story ground feels so frequently trod they might have done without this series entirely––which of course would mean finding another place to put X-23 during the relaunch, and not enough history to maximize their weird intellectual property investment in Kwannon (a character that just never seems to ever catch fire with readers, no matter what Marvel wants for her). And then the art is miserable.

    It seems like there was decent intent behind this series in the abstract, but it’s a shame that X-23, who has had one of the better runs of development for an X-men character in the last few years, is essentially reduced to being the background foil in this series, unsuccessfully drawing out Kwannon’s opaque motivations and thought processes.

  4. Mikey says:

    This has me yearning for the days of Kyle and Yost’s X-Force, which at least had better art.

  5. Evilgus says:

    I’m just not really a fan of the grimdark, po-faced tone. You can still tell a serious story without being so humourless.

    Also the problem for Kwannon, at the moment, is she is still ‘generic badass assassin’. And she needs to interact with other main X-Characters to get a bead on those relationships, not just satellite characters like Kid Cable. Those relationships tend to be where the interest is for readers.

    We also really need a Betsy/Kwannon confrontation. I get they are spacing that out, but I worry they are just going to shy away from that entirely and we won’t see it here, or in Excalibur.

  6. Dazzler says:

    I guess “generic badass assassin” isn’t inaccurate, but the problem with Kwannon is that she’s not a proper character. She’s just this awkward thing that exists for bizarre, bad reasons. What they’ve done with her is one of the strangest things I’ve seen in comics.

    Regardless of how problematic it was for a white Brit to inhabit a Japanese body (and I never thought it was especially problematic), I don’t think there was any reason at all to reverse it for the sake of political correctness. I don’t think people were calling for this, and it was the status quo for almost her entire history. Plus they already did a story, which was actually character-driven and rooted in continuity, resolving the issue of the two bodies.

    It feels like a sad attempt by CB Cebulski to overcompensate for his own personal cultural appropriation, but I think the end result is just so much more problematic than a standard stupid comic book body-swap trope. I don’t even know how commercially viable this fake Psylocke is. I feel like they just took a B-list character and split her into two C-list characters.

    I don’t even see how Kwannon is even commercially viable, since any Psylocke fan will know this isn’t her, so I’m just confused about all of this. It’s a really uncomfortable situation.

  7. Chris V says:

    You forgot just how boring and uninteresting Asian chick Psylocke-Betsy has been as a character too.
    How interesting has she ever been?
    Wow! She’s got a hot Asian woman’s body now!

    The last time Psylocke was interesting was as part of Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, and that was pretty much the first time that hot Asian chick Betsy had ever been interesting.

    I did sort of like Betsy when she first joined the X-Men under Claremont, but I understand she was sort of a bland character at that point too.
    She served a purpose of being the team’s telepath, when they needed one.

    Now, there are two uninteresting characters running around, instead of one bland Psylocke character, right.
    At least they decided to make Betsy the new Captain Britain.
    That’s probably the most interesting thing to do with Betsy, at this point.
    Even though I find the writing on Excalibur to be unreadable.

    So, it’s a negligible change.
    It’ll be pretty easy to just ignore Kwannon in the future, and we’ll never talk of the whole thing ever again.

  8. Moo says:

    “At least they decided to make Betsy the new Captain Britain.”

    I don’t see this lasting. Probably only a matter of time before she gets her eyes gouged out again like the last time.

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