Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Resurrection Man #1

I never paid a lot of attention to Resurrection Man during the days of his original series. This is largely because it ran during the late 90's, when I barely looked at anything unrelated to Batman, X-Men, or the Young Justice crew, and because the character wasn't used enough later on to remind me to go back and check those issues out. What I knew going into Resurrection Man was this: his name is Mitch Shelley. Every time he dies, he comes back to life with a power that related to the way he was killed. This series is written by its the character's creators, Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett. And in some timelines, he's a distant future member of the Justice League.

I'm not usually pleased with any gaps in my comic book knowledge, but in this case, I appreciate being able to say that this series is indeed accessible to brand new readers. By the third page of the story, you know the bare basics, and Mitch is more than happy to talk readers through the rest of the issue. Thought boxes clearly describe both the nature of his powers and the general events of each scene, making this a very easy book to follow even if you're not all that used to comics.

In fact, a minor gripe would be that they use too much of the thought boxes. When a mysterious woman offers her left hand for a shake, we see Mitch think "Huh? Doesn't she even know how to shake hands?". When the same woman later reveals herself to be a giant winged monster, a thought box pops up with "What--? What the hell? How did she turn into that?!". For the most part, it seems redundant to have Mitch pointing out what the art clearly shows us, and it feels even more pointless on the few occasions when Mitch comments on what happens in the speech bubbles below.

It's a shame Abnett and Lanning don't rely more on the art, as Fernando Dagnino does some really nice work here.  There are some retro elements to his style that really make me want to see what the pages would look like on newsprint. Everything about the art, right down to Santi Arcas' colors, remind me of the early days of Vertigo. Some often forgotten favorites of mine, such as Sandman: Mystery Theatre and Sebastian O, were a part of this era, and it's very cool to see that style evoked. Fittingly, the highlights of Dagnino's work are a page where Mitch comes back from the dead and a page where he meets his doom.

I have had it with these monkey fighting comics set on Monday to Friday planes!
Another problem is that Resurrection Man had an unusual amount of similarities with this week's title's, Grifter. Both books find our titular heroes in a showdown on a plane with a human disguised villain, and in both books, the hero winds up leaping from the plane mid-flight. I don't believe that this week's prevalence of stories involving plane fights (we saw one in Deathstroke as well) is anything other than a coincidence, and the pacing of both comics is radically different, but it still colored the way I viewed these stories. I wish someone at DC editorial had caught this and mentioned it to the writers, or at least made sure they came out a week or two a part.

These are relatively small issues, and the book as a whole is still pretty enjoyable. I really liked that the writers spent some time on the plane's various passengers, and I'm a sucker for any story that involves battling angels. I love the idea that Mitch's soul is polished by his deaths and subsequent rebirths, like a rock in a tumbler. And the basic premise of the series is terrific one that's full of potential. I would've liked to have seen a little more of that here. Resurrection Man doesn't suffer from being overly decompressed, but it really could've used just a bit of extra oomph. I wish Abnett and Lanning hadn't gone so simple with their ending. Most of the new 52 have ended with a hook, something to suck readers and leave them longing for more. The big hook of Resurrection Man seems to be "hey look, Madame Xanadu", but it lacks punch when she's part of the main cast in 2 other ongoings.

I didn't love Resurrection Man, but I liked it plenty, and I'll definitely be reading issue 2. This is another title I suspect will read better in trade form, and if you're not a huge fan of the character or premise, I'd suggest waiting a few months to check this one out. While I can't say this with any real authority, I'd bet that for fans of the original series, this will feel a lot like Batwoman did for me, and I'm happy those fans have Mitch Shelley back at last. Abnett and Lanning seem thrilled to come back to their characters, and I'd bet they have years worth of stories that they've been waiting to tell. I may not be hooked on Resurrection Man yet, but I think sticking with this title will pay off in the long run.

By Marceline with No comments


Post a Comment

    • Popular
    • Categories
    • Archives