Fallen Angels has been the most polarizing of the Dawn of X books and maybe the entire Marvel lineup in the past year. The series has felt distant from the other X-Men books, with an entirely different look and feel an approach that can be described as nothing short of confusing. That’s not to say the work isn’t interesting, as it does have strokes of meaningful narrative, but to piece it together and make something of it is an entirely different story. In the fifth issue by Bryan Hill, the series appears to be racing towards a final conflict, but by the end will we be riveted or just as confused as before?
This issue is all about putting a new team together to fight Apoth and save the world. Early on, we get to see Cable and Laura interact with Bling and Husk, who seem to be on board for the fight at hand. This issue is a lot easier to swallow than previous issues, serving as the setup for the battle of the next issue. In the process, we get scenes with Magneto and Mr. Sinister who seem to add some meaningful interpretation and observation to Psylocke and this entire endeavor. To see Magneto process Pyslocke’s desire to save humans is an interesting twist and it adds a nice layer to Magneto’s personality.
Mr. Sinister continues to be a source of dark evil energy in this book. He’s cast in shadow, offers promises to Psylocke that are clearly not of a good nature, but he also helps her too. He’s not quite as silly or over-the-top as he’s been depicted in other books though, which seems off.
The art by Szymon Kudranksi with colors by Frank D’Armata continues to be incredibly pretty in its framing of panels. A bamboo garden with white flowers peppers the gutters, and the edges of panels take the form of bamboo or in a scene with Mr. Sinister organic horrors. These details go a long way in making the poetic and visceral nature of Psylocke’s ideas come alive. There are some truly scary scenes thanks to a little manipulation from Mr. Sinister later in the book that are quite good too. The use of purples and pinks give the scene a strange feeling that makes the chaos more unnerving.
There are of course problems with this issue, though they are less annoying than in previous issues. The speed in which the team is pulled together is nearly comical, reducing its impact and making it a mad dash rather than a meaningful coming together of heroes. Magneto does something that seems quite ridiculous, even when you know he’s quite powerful and this also serves to rush along with the battle. Psylocke continues to talk of her vision, which has yet to be interesting and is further annoying Laura cares at all given there’s little to make her care genuinely.
The art isn’t perfect, either — there are some awkward faces, Cable looks quite out of place most of the time, and Psylocke can have a normal looking face one minute and look like a doll the next. There’s a fight sequence late in the book that has little impact since the sequence is composed of so few panels. I’m also at a loss for why Laura looks so young.
In comparison to previous issues, this comic book is one of the strongest yet, but that isn’t saying much. It sets up a showdown that you’ll be dying for since so little actually occurs here. At this point, the very idea of confrontation that could mean something is worth more than the false poetic nature of Psylocke’s vision. Basically put, this feels like it’s getting closer to the end, which is a huge positive. At least we can get some respite knowing it’s almost over.