Fallen Angels #1-8
Issue(s): Fallen Angels #1, Fallen Angels #2, Fallen Angels #3, Fallen Angels #4, Fallen Angels #5, Fallen Angels #6, Fallen Angels #7, Fallen Angels #8
Tom Palmer inks 1-2 and 7. Val Mayerik inks 4-6. Tony DeZuniga inks #8.
Mary Jo Duffy wrote one of the better runs of Power Man & Iron Fist, but she hadn't been doing any regular writing for the past five years (she had since have scattered writing gigs, including on the final issue of the Punisher's miniseries, but it seems to be a lot of co-writing or back-ups). She had been managing editor on the Epic line for the past few years, but with this series she was returning to freelance status. This Fallen Angels series had been teased as early as New Mutants #36, with a cover date of Feb 86. At that time the book was going to be called The Misfits, but that name had since been claimed by both the Toad/Frog-Man/Steel Spider group and the non-Marvel television show about superheroes called the Misfits of Science.
We begin with what could be an ordinary New Mutants story. Sunspot accidentally hurts Cannonball during a friendly game of soccer ("One moment of anger... and their lives are changed forever!", according to the cover. Well, at least for 8 issues.)...
...and the other New Mutants freak out, blaming his well known temper. While Magneto and the other Mutants take Cannonball to the hospital, Sunspot stumbles upon some notes from Professor X suggesting that Sunspot is in danger of becoming a bad man like his father, who is a member of the Hellfire Club.
Sunspot takes this to heart and runs away.
When the New Mutants come home (Cannonball only had a concussion), they find the note he left them. Magneto sends the other Mutants to their rooms to contemplate they way they treated Sunspot, but Warlock instead decides to go to New York to find him, reasoning that "entities seeking loss of self do so with great frequency in location known as Manhattan".
McDuffy had earlier presented the argument that Warlock is a mutant because he rebelled against his society.
Also earlier, Magneto had called up Moira MacTaggert to get her help making report cards for the students, because i guess she wasn't busy enough taking care of the Morlocks wounded in the Mutant Massacre, and she agrees, bringing the rarely seen Siryn and Madrox the Multiple Man along with her.
While Magneto contemplates having to do those report cards, he remembers back to when he used to lead the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The Vanisher is incorrectly included with them (you will also note the narration from Sunspot obsessing over Magnum PI).
Vanisher is displayed because he's a part of this series, but we'll get back to him.
In New York, we're introduced to Chance, a tomboy that doesn't like kids selling calendars of "Oriental beauties" for the Glorification Church.
She is attacked by muggers, and Sunspot helps her out. But his powers are derived from the sun, and it's nighttime and they (a little too quickly) get drained. Chance is then rescued by a friend named Ariel...
...and Warlock shows up to bail out Sunspot.
However, when he tries to follow Ariel and Chance through the door they went through, he instead finds an empty garage.
Meanwhile, Magneto gives Siryn and Madrox a portable Cerebro device so that they can go look for Sunspot and Warlock while he and Moira council the other New Mutants.
I made a reference to the Mutant Massacre above, but it's clear this story wasn't written with the current details of the X-books in mind. In some ways it is; at the least, New Mutants #52 and X-Factor #17 set the series up. But considering when it's supposed to take place, there are some incongruities, like Moira leaving Muir Island and the existence of this portable Cerebro device. It's been a big plot point in the X-books that Cerebro was destroyed during the Massacre and the X-Men therefore couldn't look for the New Mutants when they were missing prior to New Mutants #52 or for Karma's siblings, who are also missing. If they had this portable version, they could have at least taken it out to the Morlock tunnels or the area around Karma's apartment to start a search. Siryn and Madrox don't have much more to go on in this series but they are giving it a go.
Back in New York, Sunspot decides that he's embraced being evil enough that he's going to rob a house, but then he backs down when he realizes it's a church. However, he leaves the church doors busted down, and that attracts the attention of the omnipresent criminal element in New York, who immediately spill into the church to steal its valuables. They are stopped by a geeky little kid and two tiny companions that we don't see yet.
The boy is also on the trail of Sunspot. His search takes him past a seafood restaurant, which he makes sure to avoid, and eventually finds Sunspot. He tells him that his name is Gomi and he's with the same group as Ariel and Chance, and that he's invited to join them at the Beat Street Clubhouse. And his little friends are lobsters named Bill and Don.
Madrox, or one of his duplicates, also manages to catch up to Sunspot at this time, but Sunspot says that if the New Mutants couldn't be bothered to come out themselves, he's clearly not wanted back. The Vanisher shows up to agree with Sunspot...
...and convinces him that he really cares about his misfit group. So Sunspot and Warlock go with him. Madrox and Siryn follow, but then the group does the disappearing door trick again. Some of Madrox's duplicates make it through, but Siryn is left behind.
The rest are introduced to the Fallen Angels' hangout.
Bill and Don are hungry...
...so the Vanisher sends Chance and Ariel out to steal some food.
One interesting thing is that Duffy takes time to explore the weirdness of Madrox's multiple bodies.
There's the contingent with the Fallen Angels (that reduce themselves to a single person), the one with Siryn, and then one that randomly offered to help a lady with her luggage. And they all act independently of each other and don't share any knowledge of each other's locations. To the minimal extent that we've seen Madrox prior to this, we haven't seen that aspect explored. The one that's helping the lady with her luggage starts worrying about having to rejoin with the others.
When Chance and Ariel return with food, Gomi demonstrates that he also has telekinetic powers...
...and we learn that his lobster buddies don't like it when the Vanisher yells at him.
It's a very weird group (i love Vanisher's "that makes sense" thought bubble; Ariel also has subtle powers of suggestion).
Gomi isn't a mutant, per se, although he wouldn't want to insult anyone's intelligence by having to point out that Don's color makes him a mutant lobster. But they all got their powers from Gomi's older cousin, Ramon, who is a jerk and a goofball fanboy evil scientist.
Gomi's name - which means "garbage" in Japanese - is actually a nickname given to him by his cousin's partner Fujita. They gave Gomi his telekinesis when they learned that their idol, Marvel Girl had turned into the Phoenix, ruining their dream girl.
Ariel also isn't a mutant, with her doorway powers being something "the folks at home" taught her. Vanisher suggests demonstrating her power by rescuing their erstwhile companion, Boom Boom, from the evil clutches of X-Factor. Chance initially rejects bringing back the woman who "turned the rest of us in", but Ariel convinces her.
The "rescue" of Boom Boom is repeated (with some differences) from X-Factor #17.
And after that, Siryn and her Madrox show up. So the gang's all here now, right? Not quite. If you're going to be this weird, you might as well top it off with the characters from the weirdest series Jack Kirby ever did at Marvel. So Ariel takes them through a door to world of dinosaurs, and they meet Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy.
Ariel describes this place as another planet, not the past.
This has implications for my project; i haven't included Kirby's original series because i took it to be taking place in the past (some magical past where hominids and dinosaurs lived together, obviously). And Godzilla did visit them using a time machine. Maybe they were originally in the past but got knocked to another planet in the present at some point.
I should also mention that Madrox and Siryn's Cerebro unit is registering everyone as mutants - Gomi's lobsters, Ariel (even though she's implied to be an alien), Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy. It reminds me of these scenes from What The--? #3 (thanks to Michael for reminding me where it was from):
Chance is also identified as a mutant, and by this point we've seen that Sunspot's and Boom Boom's powers have acted funny while in her presence.
This series is a lot of fun. Gomi's conversations with his lobsters are hilarious...
...and the cowardly Vanisher is good for kicks too.
The fact that no one understands Moonboy is great, too.
Vanisher sends the group out to steal food again (with Madrox and Siryn playing along until they can convince Sunspot to come home). While they are out, the luggage-Madrox gets hit by a bicycle in front of Ariel, Chance, and Gomi, and we see Siryn-Madrox reacting. And then this happens.
Gomi is big about it, and doesn't blame Devil Dinosaur for his clumsiness. And Devil Dinosaur shows remorse, shaming Sunspot, who sees a parallel to his situation with Cannonball.
Meanwhile, Madrox tells his reluctant duplicate that he might be a mutant mutant.
Meanwhile, the remaining lobster, Bill, tries to pick a fight with Devil Dinosaur...
...and there's a lot of other infighting and also crushes going on. Boom Boom on Madrox, Gomi on Siryn. Chance on Sunspot. But Madrox and Siryn develop an actual relationship.
And everyone's powers occasionally go haywire, and Warlock acts a bit weird, a result of the "mutation" that makes him a nice guy getting turned off.
Believe it or not, there is actually a plot in all this madness. Ariel and Chance have been hinting at some secret plans for the others, which is why they've been gathering the group. And Ariel uses the opportunity of the haywire powers - and Vanisher's cowardly assumptions - to suggest that the group is under attack by the Marauders or X-Factor or some other mutant hunting group, so she takes them all to "The Coconut Grove", her home planet.
It turns out that Ariel's race have reached a genetic dead end, and so Ariel has been collecting mutants for them to experiment with. Her friend Chance didn't know the details of what she was up to. But after some hijinx on the planet...
...the Coconut Grovians come to collect the mutants, who are unable to defend themselves because their powers are still going haywire. And it finally comes out that it's due to Chance, who is a mutant that has just hit puberty, and her power is the ability to randomly enhance or shut down the powers of others. And it turns out that Ariel is a mutant as well, so she's also captured.
Only one Fallen Angel is neglected and left behind: Bill.
One of the Madrox duplicates is killed by the guards, and its death affects all of the others. And Sunspot laments not saving him. But Madrox reasons that if he had interfered, he would have just died too, "and I'm not going to go off on some big guilt trip... Because that would just be showing off, too". Sunspot again takes a lesson from that. There's also some talk of the reluctant duplicate having to re-merge, because "part of growing up is accepting that you can't have things just as you would want them".
Eventually, Bill shows up to free the Angels.
Actually, he just wants to free Gomi, but Gomi convinces him to let go of his anger and free the other Angels as well. They even decide to free Ariel, despite her being responsible for their capture.
The group fights their way out...
...with Chance learning to control her powers along the way (and Ariel's mutation is her persuasion ability).
After all the lessons learned, Sunspot decides to go back to the New Mutants with Warlock. But Siryn and Madrox decide they like being with the Fallen Angels, and decide to stay, where they can also prevent them from becoming too criminal.
And, well, that's it! A weird kind of fun. A bit heavy on the message about adolescence, and some questionable ideas about mutants, but it's hard to take anything too seriously in a series with sentient dinosaurs and cybernetic lobsters. This series had a very different tone than all the Mutant Massacring that was going on in the x-books at this time, and since it was presented as a mutant title, it must have caused some confusion and maybe didn't find its audience. I know that this didn't lead to Duffy getting a regular series, and it seems there was a second Fallen Angel series that Marvel decided to not publish.
This series also didn't have much of an impact on the Marvel universe at the time, other than getting Sunspot and Warlock out of the New Mutants for a while. You'd think a group living on the streets of New York that included Devil Dinosaur would attract some attention, but the group is ignored outside of this series and is quietly abandoned.
It's interesting seeing Siryn and Madrox, each in their first significant appearances outside of their origin stories. Having really become familiar with Madrox in X-Factor, i originally thought he was older than the New Mutants, but he's presented as being a teenager around the same age as the other kids here. They'll next appear back in Muir Island and their time here doesn't have any impact on them.
Chance, to my knowledge, is never seen again. Gomi (and Bill) are basically a footnote in a Civil War/Initiative handbook (Civil War: Battle Damage Report). Ariel will be used by Mike Carey in X-Men Legacy.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: The soccer game at the beginning of this series is the same one that is getting started at the end of New Mutants #52. Sunspot and Warlock are both away from the New Mutants book until New Mutants #59, and they both appear in Power Pack #33 before their return. The story in these issues mostly run together, but there's potentially a break between issues #5-6, enough time for Lobster Don's funeral. But since once the series gets going there are no dependencies on other titles, i've left it all as a single entry. Getting the series going is a bit of a problem, though. As i said, this follows New Mutants #52 directly. But Boom Boom joins the series in issue #3, in a scene that is duplicated in X-Factor #17. And X-Factor #17 also shows Thor returning from Asgard with Iceman, in a scene repeated in Thor #379. And that takes place before Mephisto vs.... #4. But New Mutants annual #3 references the events of the X-Men vs. the Avengers series, which has to take place after Mephisto vs.... #4. I've placed this after New Mutants #52 with the assumption that X-Factor #17 takes place over a long period of time; see the Considerations on that issue for details. As Michael notes in the comments, the Madrox that appears in this story is eventually revealed to be a duplicate, but since this duplicate and his memories are eventually absorbed by the real one, i'm still listing him as a Character Appearing.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (17): show
PAD later retconned that the Madrox in this story was just a duplicate- it drugged the real Madrox and went off with Siryn and Moira and eventually gets reabsorbed by Madrox in X-Factor 75. Madrox's and Siryn's relationship, though, becomes crucial in later X-Factor stories.
Posted by: Michael | March 26, 2014 11:13 PM
The parody that you're thinking of is from What The 3- the Mutant Beach Party.
Posted by: Michael | March 26, 2014 11:49 PM
Just throught I'd read this on a whim despite not reading the source and...I am always impressed whenever someone depicts lobsters with their natural colors rather than the tvland always red.
Posted by: David Banes | March 26, 2014 11:54 PM
My suggested placement on the Marvel Chronology Project was:
UX 214 [X-Men fight Malice & Dazzler joins the team]
These events take place while Rogue is being held by Mephisto in his realm:
MEPHV. 4~T 381 [Mephisto returns X-Men (except for Rogue) to their bodies at the beginning of 4, then Rogue is forced to kiss Thor to separate his soul from his pulped body and Mephisto returns her to Earth]
I realize the reference in the Annual doesn't work with the placement of the X-Men vs Avengers mini but if you ignore that reference, it seems to fit.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 27, 2014 2:32 AM
Boom Boom returns to X-Factor in issue #22 and Sunspot & Warlock return to The New Mutants in #59 just in time for The Fall of the Mutants event.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 27, 2014 3:02 AM
Interesting. I thought there was only 4 issues of this limited series(?). I did enjoy this story arc, a bit weird but quite funny.
Can anyone in the UK tell me if this series was reprinted in Marvel UK as I recently bought the series and distinctly remember reading it many moons ago. The 1st issue is very familiar.
Posted by: JSfan | March 27, 2014 3:54 AM
Thanks for pointing me to the right issue of What The--?, Michael. It wasn't quite how i remembered it but i posted some scans.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 28, 2014 10:59 AM
Jay, regarding the placement of the New Mutants annual, it's not just a reference you'd be ignoring, but the actual dialogue in that scene. The New Mutants say they are upset because the Avengers beat up Magneto "and the X-Men". Between that and the team composition, it's hard to accept that they're talking about only New Mutants #40 or some earlier event.
Still pondering this...
Posted by: fnord12 | March 28, 2014 11:04 AM
Still, I think it's harder to ignore an entire crossover scene between X-Factor 17 and Fallen Angels 3 over some dialogue in the Annual... Maybe it's just me? ;)
Posted by: Jay | March 28, 2014 1:54 PM
Surely those aren't our only options! I was considering instead ignoring the "A little less than an hour later" caption in X-Factor #17 and assuming that Angel's funeral got delayed a number of days, maybe as Beast tried to find a cure for Iceman (we see that he's already got a lab set up when they get back from the funeral). I'd rather ignore a temporal reference than a specific reference used in character dialogue.
This solution is the lazy one that doesn't require me to think about shifting anything in the current order i've got here, and rather than just be lazy i still want to see if i can shift the books in a way that doesn't require me to ignore any captions. But i do suspect that finding a gap in X-Factor #17 may have to be the solution.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 28, 2014 3:29 PM
A slightly more out-there solution: perhaps Ariel's travel doors can travel in time, as well as space.
There's no in-story evidence for the theory, but it would certainly solve the chronology problems (and allow you to continue declaring Kirby's Devil Dinosaur stuff out of scope, should you so desire - it's another planet, but there's no explicit evidence that it's in the present).
Posted by: Stephen | March 28, 2014 9:03 PM
I admit that i've already been considering this! The Devil Dinosaur thing is part of the appeal.
But from an issue placement perspective, it results in the same thing as finding a gap in X-Factor #17, and i'd rather not grant characters powers that haven't been shown in the book (if it were Magik instead of Ariel, on the other hand...).
Posted by: fnord12 | March 29, 2014 10:54 AM
Putting a gap in X-Factor 17 won't fix anything. The problem is still the Mephisto vs.... issues and the crossover with Thor there and in X-Men vs. Avengers.
It's possible Magik showed the New Mutants the future in her scrying pool what will happen to the X-Men. If they were searching for the X-Men (who would be looking for a way to get Rogue back from Mehpisto's realm at this point during Mephisto vs.... #4 just before Uncanny X-Men #219) and instead saw the trial of Magneto, then couldn't this still make sense?
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 29, 2014 12:19 PM
Grind, grind, click! Oh wait, I see what you mean now. Still, Magik is the one with the time bending teleporting so my suggestion might still work as a fix?
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 29, 2014 12:23 PM
I always favored the alternate dimension idea, because cavemen and dinosaurs didn't exist in the past of the main Marvel universe (except in a few places like the Savage Land / Pangea / etc.). So Fury dialed up the time machine to somewhere between 220-65 million years ago, and it either ended up sending Godzilla to the Savage Land somewhere in the last few million years, or sending him to an alternate dimension that happened to have dinosaurs. Either way, maybe Reed DIDN'T fix the radiation problem.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | March 29, 2014 12:37 PM
Never read this. What a bizarre series! There are some individual good ideas here - some New Mutants (temporarily) leaving the team and running away, the Vanisher leading a gang of child/mutant petty criminals, and a look into the mutants at Dr MacTaggert's place.
The Coconut Grove alien planet is weird, but not necessarily too out there given Claremont's inclusion of the Shi'Ar and Lila Cheney's galactic teleportation powers.
However, it just does not work. One or two of these elements combined could make an enjoyable 4-6 issues series, and if popular could lead to a more permanent team in subsequent limited series.
Devil Dinosaur's inclusion is particularly weird.
I wonder if the idea was that this could lead to a permanent title with these characters.
Posted by: Chris | March 29, 2014 3:31 PM
There was a plan for a second limited series but it was never published, although the first two issues were completed:
Posted by: Michael | March 29, 2014 3:43 PM
Ermmm...make that "cavemen and dinosaurs didn't COexist..."
Posted by: Erik Robbins | March 29, 2014 4:17 PM
There's always been something disturbing about Gomi's backstory to me. His "friends" seem too abusive, in some vaguely disquieting way I can't quite put my finger on.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 11, 2014 10:42 PM
("One moment of anger... and their lives are changed forever!", according to the cover. Well, at least for 8 issues.)...
To be fair, it felt like "forever". After reading this series, I was glad that there was never a sequel.
Posted by: clyde | June 7, 2015 8:26 PM
I'm with Clyde on this one. This remains the only mini-series that I ever started buying real time and actually gave up on. I disliked it so much that I stopped with #5 and only went back later and read the final three issues.
This was just such a disappointment. It had two New Mutants, it had the very under-utilized Madrox and Siryn. It was something that was actually connecting the X-books because of Boom Boom, and yet, I felt disappointed in so many ways.
The first way was the story. I just couldn't care, especially since they were so determined to hit you over the head with Sunspot learning all these lessons.
The second was the art. It jumped all around (quite good for the first couple of issues, but not after that). And the art on Boom Boom just didn't mesh (more on that below).
But the major disappointment was continuity. And I'm not talking about little things like Vanisher complaining about Magneto (when exactly were they on a team together?). As fnord mentions, this was massively delayed, being advertised for well over a year before it actually started. The problem was that it was clearly written to take place before it really takes place. You don't really see evidence of the Mutant Massacre. And yet, it started in real time before any of the other connections started. So, eventually, the other creative teams had to force their characters into the hole to leave and we ended up with problems like New Mutants Annual #3, which doesn't really fit because they had get Bobby off the team since Fallen Angels had already been running and he was still in New Mutants. The same with Boom Boom. And there are the questions of why we never saw Jamie and Siryn on Muir Island after the events of the Mutant Massacre.
But Boom Boom, for me, is a bigger problem. I'm not talking about the problems of fnord's project, although her cross-over is what really screws things up. I'm talking about the art. I certainly don't demand that two artists portray a scene the same way. That's part of the fun, to see how different artists show the same scene. But, as I recall her appearance in Fallen Angels and her leaving X-Factor came in the same month. Quite frankly, the Boom Boom in X-Factor looks absolutely nothing like the Boom Boom in Fallen Angels. Her hair was never like that, she never dressed like that. There should have been much better editorial control to at least make the scenes somewhat resemble each other.
But I think the real problem for all of this is that Fallen Angels, while it was very delayed, was almost certainly written, and probably drawn, long before it was released, which explains the massive disparities in story and art. And that's part of why I found it so overwhelmingly disappointing. You were supposed to be pulled in by being a fan of the X-books, but then so much of what was going on in those books had to just be ignored.
Granted, I also found Ariel and Gomi annoying (@Thanos6 - totally agree - Gomi was basically experimented on by his cousin and was it kind of passed off as comedic) and unlike fnord, wasn't thrilled with Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy suddenly showing up. This series just didn't work for me at all.
On the other hand, I was pleased to see Siryn and Madrox, who I had seen in their very brief X-Men appearances, and was glad to see them finally get a story. I liked the way their relationship developed and the whole concept of one of Jamie's duplicates not wanting to rejoin. I wish more had been done with their relationship after this series, rather than just Siryn running off to join X-Force (trying to remember if, when she joins X-Force, they even bother to mention how she already knows Boom Boom from this series and I can't).
At the time, it was a very exciting time to be an X-fanatic. All of a sudden the X-universe was just exploding, with mini-series everywhere. But so many of them had production problems (end of vs FF was delayed, as was vs Avengers, with a change to the creative team, this was massively delayed) and caused such large problems of where to place them because they all started running (in some cases several months) before the point in the X-books where they would fit in. I think perhaps the real problems, for us fans at the time (and anyone is certainly free to disagree), was that vs FF was by far the best of these series (best art, best story, best use of characters) that since it was the first of the bunch, the ones that followed were simply disappointing.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 18, 2015 7:08 AM
Erik, they don't mention Boom Boom knowing Siryn when she joins X-Force. They do mention X-Force meeting Siryn in the Kings of Pain Annuals. But the Kings of Pain Annuals don't mention Boom Boom and Siryn knowing each other (to be fair, there was a limited amount of space).
Posted by: Michael | July 18, 2015 12:02 PM
Almost 20 years layer an issue of one of the "main" X-books confirmed that Ariel was a mutant.
Michael, the funny thing is that Boom-Boom DOES acknowledge knowing Sunspot from Fallen Angels when she joins rhe New Mutants.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 5, 2017 12:29 PM
The funny thing: they try to wonder if Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy were mutants...and yet DD ends up with an Inhuman post-Secret Wars. Who'd thunk?
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 22, 2017 7:30 PM
So I just finished reading this over the weekend. I found it...not good. Nearly everything about it felt off, and it honestly took me over a week to power through it. I think Sunspot's constant assertions that he is "an evil man" were the most grating for me, but just the whole tone of the series didn't work for me. I get that it was meant to be lighthearted and a little silly, but I think it was way overboard. I liked Warlock (I love Warlock in anything), the lobsters (but not Gomi), and.....that's just about it. Well, I liked the "mutation on a mutation" Madrox, but that got undone by the end of it, so it felt inconsequential. And I don't think I could do justice to a list of the things I didn't like. In the end, I'm glad be done with it and be able to move on with my late-'80s X-books.
Posted by: J-Rod | May 22, 2017 5:22 PM
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