Our continuing series Comic Questions is asking the questions that comic book fans don't often ask. We'll be looking at some of the gaping flaws in logic in some of the most beloved figures and concepts in comic books. This week, we look at Angel's wings.

There's a reason that human beings don't just strap on a pair of feathered wings and fly. The misunderstanding of exactly how birds fly has led to some of the more humorous attempts in the last century before the Wright Brothers figured out airplanes. It's because the ability to fly is about more than just wings. One of the reasons birds can fly while other animals can't is that their whole physiology is geared towards it. For example, their bones are hollow, making them very lightweight. Their eyes are also positioned and protected by a membrane to avoid damage by wind.

Marvel tried to deal with this problem. According to the official biography of Angel, he has an enormously complex physiology beyond just the wings. His bones are hollow, his wings are super-humanly strong, he requires more food and processes it faster than normal, he has zero body fat, his eyes have a transparent covering that slides down over them to protect them from wind, and he can breathe at high altitude.

All that makes a lot of sense, but the problem is that none of it translates in the actual comic. For example, if Angel's bones are hollow, wouldn't they break easily? If they followed this to its logical conclusion, Angel would be a little like Mister Glass from Unbreakable. Also, since he's so much lighter than normal, wouldn't it be easier to knock him down? Would Angel risking starving to death faster than a normal human? And when has Angel ever said, "Hang on, let me slide my protective lenses over my eyes..."

I wish they would put all this into the comic. I think it makes him more complex than just a guy with wings. For example, if his brittle bones made Angel avoid combat, wouldn't that leave him looking slightly cowardly? I also think the barrage of other differences between himself and normal humans would leave him feeling alienated. While he might physically pass as human at first glance, Angel's need for more food, enhanced breathing, and lighter weight would cause differences that could be observed by anyone who spent time with him over the long term. I think it makes him more interesting, not less.

What do you think about Angel's wings?


Maurice Mitchell said...

I've never been a fan of Angel even though he's one of the founding members of X-Men. He looks cool, but that fades quickly once he gets in combat. You're right though. The addition of major physical flaws and abnormalities would make for compelling fiction.

Dattonex said...

actually hollow bones are not that fragile...they have a lattice type of calcium membrane in them helping to maintain integrity...and angel is also stronger muscally than ur average human...in the comic they have made use of the lense thing a time or 2...


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