The 1980s were a golden age for the X-Men. Between Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson, the entire line was thriving for an incredibly long time. Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants, X-Factor, and Excalibur were all incredibly popular books, and remain classics to this day. While some miniseries of the era receive comparable acclaim, such as Claremont and Miller’s Wolverine, there’s one fantastic book of the era that never got the same attention as everything else. Until very recently Jo Duffy, Kerry Gammill, and Joe Staton’s delightful miniseries Fallen Angels was the hidden gem of the X-Men in the 80s. With Bryan Hill and Szymon Kudranski’s launch of Fallen Angels in the new Dawn of X line, Marvel finally reprinted the original series, giving a whole new generation of readers access to a book they likely had never even heard of prior.
The story of Fallen Angels follows the New Mutant Sunspot, who lashes out in anger against his best friend, Cannonball. Wracked with guilt, Sunspot also discovers that his headmaster kept a file on him mentioning his potential to become a supervillain, and becomes convinced that he is truly a bad person and has to leave the New Mutants before he kills them all. After running away to New York City, Sunspot meets a group of runaway teenagers like himself led by the ex-supervillain Vanisher, who call themselves the Fallen Angels. Through a series of wacky hijinks and adventures, Sunspot (and Warlock, the only New Mutant to follow him) make new friends and learn things about themselves, as does each character in the group. Both Kerry Gammill and Joe Staton make the book’s artistic direction really cohesive, and they really fit the story being told.
The real star of the story, though, is the absolutely incredible Bill the Lobster. Bill’s gotten some buzz recently because of his appearance in the big House of X/Powers of X promotional piece by Mark Brooks, and this book does an excellent job showing exactly why he has the cult following he does. The last issue of the miniseries begins with Bill the Lobster enacting what is essentially the plot of Die Hard in order to get his revenge on a giant dinosaur for the death of his compatriot, Don. Bill’s entire existence is a microcosm of the books as a whole — in theory, this is bizarre and something most people would consider stupid, but the execution of the concept turns it into something delightful. Sunspot has gone through a lot of personal growth since the ’80s, but a lot of his current behaviors can be traced all the way back to the development he gets in this series.
Fallen Angels is a book that’s filled with all these bizarre disparate pieces that feel like they shouldn’t work together, but between Jo Duffy’s writing and Kerry Gammill and Joe Staton’s art, it ends up being a thoroughly enjoyable romp with memorable characters and a really fun story. It’s a really easy-to-read miniseries that never takes itself too seriously, and is all the better for it. It’s not tied up in X-Men continuity and is thoroughly enjoyable as a standalone story, and if you’re already attached to the characters it’s even better.