Beware: First Episode Spoilers ahead.
Welcome to Bete Noire, the City that Shapes the World. If by some misfortune you have stumbled in here, please take note of your surroundings. For drugs, please visit Asia Minor at the graveyard. If sex is what you're interested in, Bumper Ruggs has people of all orientations and proclivities. If a man called Benny offers to help you, do not accept. If spiritual enlightenment is your goal, seek elsewhere; there is only one church in Bete Noire, and it's usually empty. If you're helpless and hopeless, make your way to Furor's, where you may be able to get some help.
Written by Peter David, Fallen Angel tells the story of Liandra (a.k.a. Lee, a.k.a. the Fallen Angel of the title), a guardian angel exiled from heaven for disobeying God. Now the self-appointed "court of last resort" for the desperate, she aids those in need with her particular brand of cynicism and dark humor.
Fallen Angel is also the story of Bete Noire. An innocuous city by day, by night the City of Sin comes alive, deciding who lives and who dies, and who will be able to enter and leave. It is run by its Magistrate, a position which is itself under the supervision of the Hierarchy, a mysterious organization of unknown aims.
Some of its other main characters include:
- Jude: Liandra's son, who becomes Magistrate of Bete Noire during the series' second volume. Raised by nuns, he is a catholic priest who initially believes he will be able to control the city in order to better the world.
- Dr. Juris: Bete Noire's Magistrate at the beginning of the series, he will do anything it takes in order to abandon the position.
- Dolf: The Fallen Angel's staunchest ally, Dolf owns the bar Furor's, Bete Noire's sole neutral territory, and the place where Liandra meets with her clients. Little is known about his past, except that he has previously been a painter, has "dabbled in politics" and keeps a World War II era German-made handgun. Hmm.
- Black Mariah: An information gatherer and world traveler, Mariah's touch immediately burns almost all who come into contact with it; those who don't usually become her lovers.
- Asia Minor: Bete Noire most important drug kingpin, who obfuscates stupidity behind a stereotypical broken English.
- Slate: Chief Examiner of Bete Noire, and seemingly the only law enforcement official in the city. A compulsive smoker who always knows more than he's telling and has his own plans for the future.
- Juanita "J.J." Sachs and Ernie "Violens" Schultz: A thrill-seeking battle couple who settled down in Bette Noire after Violens became the Magistrate's Chief Enforcer.
- Benny: The first person a visitor to Bete Noire usually sees. If one isn't careful, he's soon after becomes the last person a visitor to Bete Noire sees.
- "The Boss": God, who takes the form of a young girl in a tennis outfit with a tennis racket. Omnipotent? Yes. Omniscient? For a certain value of the word. Omnibenevolent? Not in the slightest.
The comic book comprises two volumes. The first volume, published by DC Comics, began publishing in July 2003 until it was cancelled in its twentieth issue. The series resumed publication on December 2005, this time under the helm of IDW Publishing, lasting thirty-three issues. Since then, the book has adopted a series of mini-series format, the first being Fallen Angel: Reborn (published in 2009) and the second and latest being Fallen Angel: Return of the Son, published in 2011.
Initially, a good bit of speculation surrounded Liandra's identity; given her powers and appearance, many people surmised that Liandra was in reality Linda Danvers, who was Supergirl during a volume penned by David. David did his best to maintain the answer ambiguous until he revealed her origins at the beginning of volume 2.
Fallen Angels provides examples of:
- The Ageless: Every character seems to have this as long as they remain in Bete Noire.
- Blessed with Suck: Bete Noire's magistrate is immortal, youthful, and cannot be harmed due to bearing the mark of the city's founder, the biblical Cain, but that's about the only good thing that comes from it. Once the title of magistrate is passed from past to the new magistrate, all the years the previous magistrate lived immediately catches up with them the moment they go beyond the city limits of Bete Noire.
- Cartwright Curse: Black Mariah believes she has this. She may be right.
- City of Adventure: Bete Noire. But then...
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Liandra once tortures Black Mariah in order to obtain info on an item she sought.
- Cuckoo Nest: Lin's introduction involves this.
- Dating Catwoman: At the beginning of the series, it is revealed that Liandra was having a long-standing affair with Doctor Juris.
- Disposable Sex Worker: "Shit, another prostitute down?! What the hell is these freaks' problem with working girls?"
- Drowning My Sorrows: Liandra's usual state of being at night.
- Expy: Liandra and Lin are both expies of Linda Danvers; the latter is acknowledged by David to actually be her in every aspect save the name. The version of God seen here is an Expy of Wally, the God in Peter David's run in Supergirl.
- Fate Worse than Death: God's ultimate punishment? Eternal life.
- Fisher King: Bete Noire has this connection to whoever its magistrate is. The world, in turn, has this connection to Bete Noire
- From a Single Cell: A handful of others have this type.
- God Is Evil: Or at best extremely apathetic. The God portrayed in the story is shown being callous, apathetic, harshly judgmental, suicidal, and downright sardonic. Fallen Angels like Rahab think God is completely insane. All because God wants to finally die after creating everything and humanity's constant prayers and supplications keep him tethered to exist, so he tries to act as much of a jerkass god as possible so people will no longer pray to him. Not to mention that God is shown to be incredibly hypocritical in that God often condemns others such as fallen angels and bibilical figures like Nimrod to eternal lives of suffering despite going through the same thing and complaining about wanting it to end.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: Comic book character Shi guest-starred for an arc. Fallen Angel: Reborn featured Angel's Illyria as the mini-series' second lead.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo / Expy: Word of God is that Lin is actually Linda Danvers, the main protagonist of David's Supergirl run at DC Comics.Peter David: Can I say this is Linda Danvers? Of course I can't. However, it's pretty freaking obvious that it is.
- The Man Behind the Man: The Hierarchy is behind the Magistrate; Moloch is behind the Hierarchy.
- Parental Favoritism: Occurs with Doctor Juris, Jude, and Jubal, once Juris founds out about his firstborn.
- Parental Incest: Rumored to occur between Lady Xia and Jubal. Outright shown in Issue #12.
- Time Skip: The second volume of the series takes place twenty years after the first one.
- Transplant: Sachs and Violens, who had originally appeared in their own mini-series ten years prior.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: No one. Including God.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Jude starts out like this.