As Fallen Angels moves forward in issues, its story moves back in exchange for heavy-handed philosophical dialogue. In issue #4, the story resumes after Cable has been abducted by a servant of Apoth, we see the servant torture Cable while he tells him of his God’s plan to enslave mankind through the Overclock drug. So far that is the scope of their grand plan with not much more built around it yet.
The story remains consistent with the opening consisting of a flashback to Psylocke’s past as she is told to never trust peace, that peace only brings death. While the flashback serves as good character development it does very little to the overall story in this volume. This lesson she was taught never resurfaces in the same volume it was introduced, the current issue Psylocke and X-23 face has nothing to do with trusting peace.
Four issues in and it feels like the plot does not develop as much as it should. While we have Cable captured by Apoth’s servant, his point of view reveals the enemy’s plot. Psylocke and X-23’s story is more of the Psylocke show with X-23 tagging along and not providing much to the story as a whole. When the two encounter a group of children under Apoth’s control they are forced to decide between killing them or trying to free them from the enemy. But this is where the volume continues its problem of integrating heavy-handed philosophical monologue mixed with religious references.
Apoth goes on a very lengthy monologue about being the child Psylocke saved years ago, this reveal couples with a flashback of Psylocke freeing the AI. From there the monologue continues with Apoth stating that he is God, Noah, the Flood and Lucifer. All of these heavy religious references come back-to-back and make for a stifling, immersion breaking experience. Once the child touches Psylocke she sees Apoth before her and asks if X-23 can see it to which she responds she cannot see or hear anything.
The stifling philosophical and religious contexts overwhelm what would have been an otherwise powerful scene. It creates quite the mystery as to why no one else can see the enemy aside from Psylocke. There are so many ways this story could unfold if that was the main focus but it feels as if it is all on the back-burner for the author to create some sort of philosophical argument.
The religious inserts are overwhelming in quantity and redundancy and the philosophical argument trying to be made is shallow and superficial at best. The philosophical dialogue feels more like reading an essay instead of a comic and feels like a tool to avoid story progression rather than add to the story. The conflict Psylocke and X-23 faced with the children became null and void after the monologue. While Fallen Angels is heavily focused on Psylocke’s development as a character that internal conflict does not always need a philosophical argument.
Aside from the story progression and writing, the art in issue #4 is outstanding. The change between angles and focus between panels makes the volume fresh and exciting. No one panel feels exactly the same with small changes in character expression and the panel’s shifting focus from back shots to front shots and everything in between adding to the tension and story building. The close ups on character’s faces or mouths fits perfectly and expresses that the dialogue in that panel is of the utmost importance.
The art style and direction set Fallen Angels apart from other series but at times it feels like it is the only thing moving the story along and keeping it interesting. I would like to see Hill forgo the philosophical argument and religious references in exchange for more story and character development. Hopefully in the next issues we will see X-23 become more integral to the plot instead of just being a side character that is just tagging along.