Fallen: Self Made Man is quite possibly one of the best comics I’ve read all year and definitely one of the best superhero stories I’ve read in a long ass time. I’ve actually checked out some other indie superhero titles recently and even though I liked them and praised them, nothing compares to Fallen. This book is great from beginning to end. The story follows a man who we only know as Fallen. I’ll tell you right now that you’ll need to re-read his narration at the beginning to really understand what it means. After an introduction to Fallen we go to his past and see him as a boy with his father. This event changes his life as he becomes an orphan after a man shoots his father without question. Now, you’re probably thinking that this is a Batman-esque story, but you’re wrong. Well maybe a little right, but trust me it goes much further than being homage to Batman.
Eventually we learn what Fallen’s abilities are. He’s a master of the “perfect art,” which is essentially a martial art that allows you to always win. There is a cost though, but if you do it right you’ll inflict more pain than you’ll receive. It’s this “perfect art” that really sets Fallen apart from other superhero stories. The narration reminds us of all of Fallen’s current afflictions as he throws his body into the fray.
Creator/writer Ryan Garcia tells a complex and layered story. Again you really have to pay attention to the story because it’s not just about Fallen punching people and hurting himself in the process. There’s a very large question of whether he’s doing more good than bad and the answer may not be as black and white as you think or that the story would like you to think. Garcia’s narration is fantastic and he really doesn’t rely on dialogue to drive the story, but rather add to it when needed.
The pacing is also very tight. The way it wraps around on itself is actually pretty incredible. The overlapping elements of the plot would be annoying in any other story, but here it works incredibly well. I would love to tell you more about what makes it so good, but that would spoil the entire experience so please check it out for yourself.
A lot of the mood comes from Jose Holder’s artwork. His heavy inks and dark colors make this world dark and brooding. It really sets the series apart from other superhero titles. His pages are dynamic and he manages to pack a lot into each page, but in a good way. It helps keep the pace. Because there’s mostly narration, Holder crafts a lot of the visual narration on his own. The narration isn’t just a verbal walkthrough of what’s on the page which is what you want to see in comics. The story and art really vibe together and you can tell the creators were in sync during its creation.
I was really impressed with this comic. I instantly wanted to read it again and wanted more. I don’t know where they’ll go with the story, but I’ll be there to find out. If you’re a superhero comic reader then do yourself a favor and read Fallen: Self Made Man, because it shows what can be done with the genre when you’re actually allowed to rattle the status quo. And if you’re not into superhero titles, then I would consider this for your first.