July 20th, 2009


Freak Angels Review

Since skylarker complained about my Spider-Man review as being "spoilery," I suppose I'm going to have to put the majority of this review under some wankery lj-cut. Because, while I think I could make the case that the Straczynski AMAZING SPIDER-MAN run's surprises are well over eight years old, Freak Angels is less than a year old.


So, here are my thoughts:

I’ve decided there’s a reason I don’t read outside of the Marvelverse. I’m not urbane enough. I don’t get it.

You know, I’m one of those people for whom pop stations were invented. My taste in music has always been rather pedestrian. I’m very eclectic in what I like to listen to: folk, rock, heavy metal, opera, country western, blues, jazz, and bluegrass. BUT, usually, what I like is “something with a tune I can dance to.” If it’s on the fringe of any of those genres, I’m out.

Middle of the road, thy name is Lyda.

So when I was house-sitting the cats of a much more civilized and well-read friend, I picked up the first volume of Warren Ellis’ graphic novel FREAK ANGELS (Avatar Press) off his polished brass coffee table and started reading it.

I was intrigued enough that the cats got company for longer than I’d intended, and, when he returned from sailing Cape Cod, I asked my friend if I could borrow “Volume Two.”

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For the record, it’s not dystopias that I dislike. Or even anti-heroes. I’m quite fond of cyberpunk, clearly. But, as I’ve explained to numerous people, cyberpunk is NOT a pessimistic genre. It gets that rap because the background world is so bleak and the characters are, by the nature of the genre, outsiders scrabbling out a living in a screwed-up world. In the end, though, cyberpunk is hopeful. The punk (usually via his/her superior knowledge of the digital world) triumphs over The Man. Cyberpunk is all about the digital cowboy riding into town and cleaning it up, or at least carving out a small bit of okay for him/herself and his/her friends.

I guess FREAK ANGELS does the same, and certainly, there are worse characters to be found in some of my favorite cyberpunk novels – but I think the difference here is about purpose. The kids of FREAK ANGELS screwed up their own world. They’re not fighting The Man, they’re cleaning up the pot they, themselves sh*t in. I have trouble rustling up sympathy for their plight.

The cyberpunk is usually an outsider *not* of his/her own choosing, but because the structure of society is inherently unfair and favors the rich (who usually have to intentionally buy into or perpetrate the evils of society to get that way, ala the Bush Administration or, well, the 80s, when the genre was at its height.) When the cyberpunk raises her/his middle finger to that society and those people, I think: “Hell yeah. Fight on, sister! Up the revolution, brother!”

These kids are just f*cking each other over. Not much for me to cheer about.

Or maybe I’m just not smart or cool or urbane enough. I don’t know. Either way, I’m sticking with Marvel. It’s pop music for my brain.

Hey, did you see Iron Man on the cover of the latest Entertainment Weekly?