Spin Angels (a.k.a. Cross Fire)
auteur: Jean-Luc Sala
artiste: Pierre-Mony Chan
éditeurs: Soleil/Marvel

Bonjour! Comment allez-vous?

I may have missed out on the Sequential Surrender Monkeys roundtable, but I’m still going to review a comic from the Frenchiest country on Earth — France! However, I’m playing it safe and sticking with the mainstream; none of that artsy-fartsy stuff for me. Surely even their lamest comics must be better than ours, given the lack of decrepit superhero franchises peddled by corporate IP-holders. And one such IP-holder apparently agrees with me, because Marvel has partnered with Soleil to bring mainstream French comics like Spin Angels to the U.S. market.

And what does the French mainstream look like? Think Dan Brown with more cheesecake.

The story in Spin Angels follows the agents of the Vatican’s Secret Office, a clandestine paramilitary team operating out of Rome. These guys don’t hunt demons like your typical Catholic kill squad. Instead, they acquire or steal documents that could cast doubt on the legitimacy of Catholic dogma. Now, some of you may be thinking that this group is about 500 years too late to do any good. But from the Catholic perspective, Protestantism is just a fad, like emo (Judaism is a much older fad, like disco). Sooner or later all those emo crybabies will come to their senses, and the Catholic Church will be ready to take them back.

As for the plot, the lead investigator for the Secret Office, Sofia D’Agostino, stumbles upon a conspiracy involving the Inquisition, a missing book of the Gospel, and the Templars (it always comes back to the fucking Templars). When things start getting dicey, her boss decides that she needs some extra protection, so he calls in a favor with a buddy in the Sicilian Mafia (!) who sends his best hitman to protect her. What follows is a predictable action-adventure with an opposites attract subplot.

Considering all the lazy, unimaginative superhero crap that I’ve read in my life, perhaps it’s unfair to label this book as derivative. At the very least, it isn’t nostalgia porn. On the other hand, everything about it feels unoriginal. It’s as if the creators decided that the best way to tell their story was through a Catholic conspiracy theory checklist: apocryphal scripture, lost Templar treasure, Mafia connections, Vatican hitmen, etc. Then they topped it off with every action movie clich√© of the last 30 years.

I found the art to be a bit more agreeable, but it doesn’t quite work with the story. Chan’s style is consistent with traditional Western comic art, but it’s also heavily influenced by manga and anime. For example, the following panel has the “grossed-out” reaction that’s nearly ubiquitous in mainstream anime.

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This style might work well enough for a comedy or even a superhero comic, but it doesn’t “sell” the realistic violence within this story. There’s also plenty of cheesecake shots, but Chan’s style is too cartoony to deliver anything that’s genuinely sexy.

To sum up, Spin Angels reads like a Da Vinci Code knockoff regurgitated by a committee. But while I didn’t enjoy the comic, there’s something encouraging in the idea that even the French are capable of uninspired genre hackwork. We’re one world! There’s no such thing as the French mainstream or the American mainstream. There’s just the mainstream, which happens to be completely devoid of new ideas.