Resurrection Man #1
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Colors: Santi Arcas
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artists: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Editors: Eddie Berganza & Rex Ogle
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US
When DC was unveiling its New 52 lineup a couple of months, I was thrilled to find Resurrection Man on the list of books. I was a fan of the original title in the 1990s, and the fact the same writers are handling this, ahem, resurrected series (I wonder how many people have made the same joke in writing about this comic) made me even more eager to read it. As strong as the book was back in the ’90s, I think this new start might be even better, mixing elements from multiple genres — super-hero, science-fiction, the supernatural, conspiracy-themed drama — to arrive at a compelling, fun entertainment experience. The premise pretty much remains the same, but it’s been tweaked ever so slightly in a manner that made me think this would make a great weekly TV series. The writers have wisely crafted a script that’s accessible to the many readers who would be unaware of or had no access to the original series, and they’re joined by a new artist whose style works incredibly well with dark, weird and macabre atmosphere inherent in the story. This is another creative success for DC’s New 52, and I hope the interest in the line as a whole gets more eyes on these pages.
Mitch Shelley awakens violently on a gurney in a municipal morgue, lying there among the dead. It would be a distressing, jarring experience for anyone… anyone except Mitch. Mitch can’t die, not for long anyway, and every time he resurrects, he finds himself empowered with a new special ability, like magnetism, transmutation or telepathy. It’s different every time, but he’s able to put those powers to good use in the defence of others. But today, Mitch is using his powers to defend himself, as he finds himself being hunted by a bizarre creature possessed of power on a Biblical level.
Abnett and Lanning’s script is quite compelling. The narration in the opening scene conveys the incredible experience of Mitch’s resurrection process quite well, but I was particularly taken with the writers’ exploration (through their protagonist) of the regular people waiting to share the same flight as the hero. That continued with the antagonist’s creepy revelation about who those incidental characters are and where they’re going. Those little details about background characters that are essentially disposable helps to sell the story and make the horrific nature of the action all the more real and disturbing.
Butch (Captain America) Guice was the regular artist on the original Resurrection Man series, so whoever was tapped for this new project had big shoes to fill. Well, Fernando Dagnino was more than equal to the task, as his dark, gritty style was a great choice for this property. He boasts a realistic style that enhanced the human drama earlier in the issue, but he handles the other-worldly, impossible elements nicely as well. His vision of an angel or demon struck me as being particularly unsettling and not at all cliched. Dagnino also manages to convey the title character’s changing powers quite effectively as well. During a key scene involving what I’ll term a vehicular mishap so as to avoid spoilers, Dagnino alters the panel layouts, using sharper angles to convey what’s happening to the characters. It’s quite effective. His style is reminiscent of that of Mike (New Avengers) Deodato or Phil (Men of War) Winslade.
The only aspect of the art that didn’t work for me was the initial introduction of the Body Doubles, the sex-kitten mercenaries who served as villains in the original series. Specifically, Dagnino’s depiction of one of them threw me off, as her skin tone and serpent tattoo made me think I was looking at Voodoo, a former WildStorm character set to star in her own New 52 title this month. After a couple of panel and dialogue balloons, I realized she wasn’t the same character, but that was thanks to my familiarity with the previous Resurrection Man series.
The original Resurrection Man series boasted more of science-fiction riff and crossed over heavily into the world of super-heroes. I remember one story in particular in which he teams with the entire Justice League. Here, he’s a bit more distanced from those elements, but what’s more interesting is Abnett and Lanning’s decision to instill strong supernatural elements throughout the book. The incorporation of those elements make for an even more foreboding, mysterious atmosphere, and the further facet makes the storytelling all the more unpredictable. The writers also offer an accessible introduction to the concept without starting over from scratch with the title character’s origin. The narration informs us of his plight and powers. While we don’t know what’s going on the various factions that are after the hero, that’s not meant to be spelled out for the audience. The mystery of those elements is part of the fun.
There’s a lot going on in this first issue. Not only is the title character apparently being hunted by heavenly and infernal forces, but given the mercenaries who turn up in the final scene, it’s clear there are earthly forces in work behind the scenes as well. If that weren’t conflict enough, it seems Mitch is driven by some inexplicable instinct or force to go in certain directors, to seek out certain individuals and, I would imagine, to right certain wrongs. It’s an interesting premise that lends itself well to an episodic format, with the larger plotlines of conspiracy serving to string the smaller stories together. Like I said, this read like it would translate well to serial television, and given the unusual DC properties being optioned for TV these days (such as Deadman and the Spectre), I wouldn’t be surprised to see Resurrection Man in the running as well. 8/10
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