The Battle in Seattle

Dark Angel fights against a dystopian future, but surrenders to the tropes of today's TV

The question, as with so many adolescents, is whether the character will ever develop more than mere Attitude. While Alba pouts with the best of them, she's still working on conveying depth, pain, complexity, the shadings of emotion that get readers hooked on good comic books. As of now, her line readings tend with few exceptions toward the affectless, a failing not aided by deadfalls on the order of "I was too young to remember [before the bomb], so, whatever."

There's the challenge: conveying not too much depth to violate the essential flatness of the concept, but enough to interest viewers between explosions. Cameron's best work has revealed his understanding that it's the humanity, not the machinery, that provides real substance in SF. If the show can make Max's predicament signify (just imagine tracing the corporate money that put her on the production line!), Dark Angel could grow into great comic-book art that nails this era's subterranean fantasies, like Superman in the late Thirties or The Dark Knight Returns in Reagan's America. We could use that these days: Anyone see exciting cultural possibilities on the horizon in Bush/Gore's America?

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