Thursday, January 20, 2005

Fallen Angel..."Harlan Ellison is a Big, Fat Liar"

Peter David's Fallen Angel is a good comic book.

It is probably a better book than about 70% of the comic books currently being published by DC.

I think the art from David Lopez and Fernando Blanco is good.

I establish all of this to put into perspective my title, and why exactly I think Harlan Ellison is a “big fat liar.”

On the front cover of the Fallen Angel TPB, there is a quote from Mr. Ellison. It reads “Fallen Angel is adult, it is well-hewn, it is memorable.”

I think two of those three statements is incorrect, and the third, it is too soon to tell (a quick word on the third, "well-hewn." I really dislike the word "well-hewn." It is one thing to use fancy words when normal words would get across the same thing. I can give people some slack there. But here, Ellison is using the word "well-hewn," which means "well carved out of wood" in place of "well crafted." So not only is it a fancy word, but it is a fancy word that does not exactly mean what he wants it to mean, which is that the characters in Fallen Angel are well-crafted!).

The first statement, that Fallen Angel is "adult," I think is incorrect. Once, when I was in the sixth grade, we were asked to write a Halloween story. I thought this would be a cool time to write a sophisticated horror story. However, as I was a sixth grader, it came out like a sophisticate horror story as written by a sixth-grader. That is what Fallen Angel reads like to me. Throughout the entire series, it seemed pretty much like a typical Peter David comic book, which is not an insult. The only difference i noticed, was this sense that it was yearning to be taken seriously, yearning to be sophisticated, yearning to be adult...and that is not something that you TRY to do. It is just something that happens. You cannot just take your standard writing, and add "bitch" and gore and sex and then say it it is "adult." It reminds me of Pat Boone's metal days. Even if you thought Pat Boone's metal songs were good (and I did think some of them were quite good), you would not refer to Boone as a "heavy metal guy," would you? Same way I would not refer to the stories in Fallen Angel as "adult."

"Memorable" is something that I also think is missing from this series. Please note that I am only referring to the first trade here, but also note that that is what Ellison is referring to as well. While he mentions how he has access to more info, that does not exactly do us, the readers, much good, now does it (a quick aside about Ellison's introduction. I am sure it is helpful for a book to have someone as prominent as Ellison write the intro, but man, what a terrible introduction. It was ponderous, and was very difficult to read with the font and page color they chose. Not what you want for an introduction to a series which prides itself as being different)? The characters in Fallen Angel are not bad, they are fine characters, but their very nature almost demands that they are NOT memorable! Their very nature is one of shadows, and unfilled in blanks, and mysteries. We are not to know too much about any one character, and even less about the city they all inhabit. So almost by the very intent of the comic, I really did not find any of the characters to be all that memorable.

Which brings us to the comment that I do not think we can truly judge at this point in time, "well-hewn." As Ellison is using it, he means that the characters are well crafted. Well, since we know so little of them, and what little we know is being contradicted every other issue, I do not know if we can necessarilly characterize any of the characters as even CRAFTED, let along well crafted!

In any event, like I said before, I thought the comic was good. It is about a mysterious woman in a town where crime is almost unchecked at night. There is this crime magistrate, Juris, who controls the town's criminal population. He has an enforcer, Boxer, and an examiner, Slate. There is this drug dealer named Asia Minor. The "Fallen Angel," Lee, hangs out at a bar named Furors, run by an old barkeep named Dolf. She opens herself up as a "court of last resort." And in case you wonder how I remember that particular characterization of her situation, take notice that "court of last resort" to Fallen Angel is what "focused totality of her psi-powers" is to Psylocke, which is a description that the writer MUST think is clever, as he repeats it constantly. Basically, she helps the suckers in the town, but if she feels (while helping you) that you are unworthy of her help, she will gladly screw you over. Anyhoo, it is an interesting book. I just don't think it is adult or memorable.

However, in today's comic climate, we must learn the same lesson of the grocery store bagboy who tried to get promoted to being in charge of the store's fruit smoothie machine, which is "baggers can't be juicers."


A pun.

Just for Peter David.

Aren't I so nice?


Blogger Greg said...

That's a bad pun. It made my sides hurt.

Okay, I have to stop making comments on this site (and others). My wife is starting to think I'm a geek (or more of a geek than she thought). I like Fallen Angel, and agree mostly with your comments. I'm not sure what you mean by it not being "adult," however, since I don't think David puts naughty words in there just to strive to be adult. As the series has progressed (and I know this is just about the first trade) David has explored more adult themes, and it doesn't feel like he's straining. I agree that he's sometimes too obscure for his own good, but the way the series has played out, many questions have been answered, even though many remain unanswered. The rumors continue to circulate that there are only two more issues coming out, so it might be a moot point anyway, but I'm glad it's getting some press. It is better than most of what DC publishes. So of course they don't promote it and then cancel it.

1/20/2005 08:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1/20/2005 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

What I mean is, Greg, is that Ellison seems to suggest that Fallen Angel is more adult that PAD's other efforts.

And I don't see a difference, except for profanity, nudity, etc.

I mean, the more that I think about it, the more this series really seems to be basically the same exact thing as his Supergirl series, just with profanity, nudity, and more gore.

And without having someone dressed up as Superman, with a skirt.


And you cannot leave, Greg, we love you too much.

If you leave, there will be a hole in our heart that can only be filled by you.

1/20/2005 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

"Throughout the entire series, it seemed pretty much like a typical Peter David comic book, which is not an insult."

Yes it is. ZING!

And, yes, Greg, don't leave. Wives are not for talking! What I'm saying is that that hole in our hearts cannot be filled by the things we do.

1/20/2005 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

When you break out the Extreme references, how can I leave? And I seriously doubt if my wife could think I'm any more of a geek than I am. I just asked her, and she said if I watch more of the SciFi channel and get involved in role-playing games, then it's all over!

I see what you mean about the rest of David's work. Yeah, it's not significantly more "adult" than his other work, but I would argue he always writes things that require a little more thought than just "Wow -- Aquaman got his hand chewed off by piranhas. Kewl!" Oh wait -- he did write that? Kewl.

1/20/2005 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I just edited the following into my description of the comic above.

She opens herself up as a "court of last resort." And in case you wonder how I remember that particular characterization of her situation, take notice that "court of last resort" to Fallen Angel is what ""focused totality of her psi-powers" is to Psylocke, which is a description that the writer MUST think is clever, as he repeats it constantly. Basically, she helps the suckers in the town, but if she feels (while helping you) that you are unworthy of her help, she will gladly screw you over.

1/20/2005 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Seeing as how Ellison and David are best friends, I think we can assume some hint of bias in the intro.

Which is not to denigrate the comic any. I love the hell out of it, and will continue to do so.

1/20/2005 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Loren said...

I bought the Fallen Angel tpb off eBay a couple of weeks back, and I finished reading it last night. And I felt much the same way: it was a perfectly nice read, but nothing wowed me. I rather liked the art, but I find myself not at all compelled to track down the subsequent issues.

Which, incidentally, is pretty close to my reaction to reading my one issue of "Sleeper." I don't miss the buck I spent, but I don't think I'll be buying any more.

1/21/2005 07:37:00 PM  
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