Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Back in Heaven

Just how good is the first issue of the new Fallen Angel series? Good enough to prompt me to dig out the full twenty issues of the original series and read them all at once.

Well, one at a time, but all in one sitting. For that matter, technically, I got up from my chair several times during reading them, but you get the point.

That may not seem like that big a deal, but you have to understand the first four issues were in a long box that was at the bottom of a stack of boxes in the back of a closet that had a bed in front of it.

When DC cancelled the original series, I remember feeling like Peter David let it die with a bit of a whimper (note I avoided making a "peter out" pun there), using the final two issues to bring together two of his creator-owned properties, Fallen Angel and Sachs & Violens. In light of the new series, however, I see that David was trying to wrap things up in the final three or four issues, but with loose enough threads to keep the story going strong.

The new series manages to continue directly from the previous without making new readers feel like they have to go back and pick up the four trade paperbacks... though they should. Instead of picking up where things left off, the new series actually takes place at least two decades after #20 ended last summer with the now more significant line, "We got all the time in the world."

It's hard to tell the time has passed, however, until the very end of the issue when we see Lee's fully grown son, now a priest. The last time we saw Jude, he was a newborn being abandoned at a convent in issue #18. He's one of only two characters to have aged, the other being Dr. Juris's son, Jubal, who is celebrating his eighteenth birthday.

How time passes in Bete Noir and whether it passes differently for different people isn't clear, but whatever rules apply have made it possible for Dolf to remain serving drinks at Furor's.It also adds credence to the theories that Dolf is, in fact, Adolf Hitler. There have been clues--the bar name sounding like Fuhrer's, Dolf's self-description of having been "a painter, a writer... dabbled in politics, made some enemies"--but the counter to it all was that even if Hitler had survived and escaped the bunker, he would have to be 115 years old. If Dolf appeared to be in his seventies in the original series, he's have to be in his 90's now, yet he doesn't appear to have aged a day.

The new series also has a drastically different artist. The painted book gives a different, darker feel that's more appropriate for the story, but at times J.K. Woodward's art feels stiff and relies a little much on photo reference, such as Dr. Juris's wife beign played this evening by Lucy Liu.The writing, on the other hand, is beyond any criticism. David's passion for title and for Lee in particular come across strongly and can't help but sweep you up.

The news this book has life beyond the initial five issues IDW promised is a relief as I had forgotten how much I missed it and didn't want to have to cope with losing it again.


Blogger Chris said...

I couldn't agree more --- I picked up the new #1 and am already hooked. I had never read Fallen Angel in its DC incarnation, but I'm now actively seeking back issues. Good stuff!

8:27 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Didn't like the art at all, but I thought the issue itself was okay. It certainly didn't make the immediate impression the first issue of the first volume did.

I'm inclined to hang around to se how things go, but that art is really putting me off.

7:06 PM  
Blogger markus said...

Didn't like the original much, same goes for this one. The art isn't doing much for me as well, especially the excessively obvious photo reference.

All that said, friendly Hitler is still an extremely bad idea. In the last run, he did nothing for the story any other barkeep couldn't have done as well. In other words, were this by some no-name creator starting out, I have little doubt people would be complaining about the cheap shock tactics left and right.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Anders said...

I don't think Dolf is meant to be Hitler, although it's an interesting theory. Meanwhile... what four TPBs? As far as I know, there's only one trade, encompassing the first five issues.

1:09 AM  

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