Monday, October 17, 2011

Resurrection Man #1

DC Comics, 20 pages, $ 2.99

Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Colorist: Santi Arcas
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover artists: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis

I’ve never read the original series that ran from 1997 through 1999, but Resurrection Man, written and created by the prolific British team Abnett and Lanning, basically reads like a cross between Highway to Heaven and the stuff Warren Ellis did for Marvel in the mid-1990s, like Hellstorm or Druid in particular. It’s about a melancholy trench-coat wearer with a white mane and supernatural abilities who gets entangled in the affairs of heaven and hell—Michael Landon by way of John Constantine, if you will.

Spanish artist Fernando Dagnino’s style and approach to storytelling even evokes the work of his Argentinian colleague Leonardo Manco, who was Ellis’ collaborator on the above-mentioned books. Everything’s bleeding over the edge of the page all the time, and it’s all dark and grim and gritty in a very 1990s kind of way. Which isn’t a bad thing—it’s just style, after all. Dagnino does it well enough, and it fits the subject matter of a hero who is almost instantly reborn when he dies, each time with a new superpower, and is hunted by angels, demons—and super-model assassins, evidently.

The book doesn’t really work, but that’s not the artist’s fault. For one thing, it’s saddled with a terribly contrived premise. A guy who is reborn all the time? That means that the creators have to keep coming up with new ways for him to die, which I imagine gets pretty repetitive pretty quickly. For added complication, there’s also the superpowers aspect. And by the time the heaven-and-hell stuff shows up, it’s at least one gimmick too many.

Also, despite the fact that the character gets a fair amount of screen time and interaction, there’s not much to sink your teeth into. At the end of the issue, he’s still pretty much your generic shabby-looking trench-coat stranger with a heart of gold, and that doesn’t cut it if you want me to come back for the next issue. Some clue as to what’s going on or why I should care would have been helpful.

And, if we get picky, that purple-cloaked character that evidently appears in the background of all 52 debut issues isn’t in the background here, but in the foreground. So, unless she’s going to play a major part in this particular series, which I doubt, that’s a bit of poor, gratuitously distracting storytelling.

This isn’t a terrible comic, overall. The execution is sound enough, mostly, but in a market where dozens of superhero books are vying for attention every month, baseline competence isn’t enough to win anybody over.

Grade: C-

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