I know nothing about Resurrection Man beyond the fact that he used to have a comic I didn’t read. Still, some of my favorite New 52 comics so far have had a horror slant, so I came to the title with an open mind, eager to be entertained. What I got was a concise summary of Mitch Shelley’s powers, a better internal monologue than any in the New 52 so far, and a fun story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
While I didn’t love the story told here as much as Grant Morrison’s Superman romp in Action Comics #1, I think this issue might have the most proficient storytelling of all the titles I’ve read so far. There are absolutely zero callbacks to previous continuity, enough of the character’s personality to sympathize with him, an interesting mystery, a bit of violence, and the promise of interesting stories to come.
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning do an excellent job with captions and dialogue, and while the story told can’t be considered an origin in that it doesn’t explain why Mitch comes back to life with a different super power every time he dies, we see the cycle twice in this issue, and there’s enough that we understand how his powers work even if we don’t know the specifics, and that’s good enough.
The issue opens with Mitch coming back to life on a metal gurney in a coroner’s office. “Coming back this time tastes of metal,” he says. We later learn that Mitch has come back with power over magnetism, and we get a sense of him “feeling out” the room, describing each metal object within as Mitch becomes preternaturally aware of its taste.
In addition to a different power, Mitch also comes back with a compulsion to do something. In this case it’s to catch a plane to Portland. As he waits to board, he takes an inventory of the other passengers. Who is he here to help this time? The heavy metal kid? The young mother and child? The sky marshal?
A strange woman with a red teardrop face tattoo sits next to him on the plane. Some time into the flight, she transforms into a sort of monstrous angel of vengeance creature. “It’s time to go, Mitch,” she says in creepy red letters. “Your soul. It’s overdue.”
The angel’s razor-sharp wings shear a hole in the plane. When the sky marshal shoots her, she says “Seriously?” and slices a gash in his neck with her sharp claws. Mitch, apparently using his metal powers to manipulate the angel creature’s metal arms, manages to force the creature out of the plane.
Fernando Dagnino’s pencils don’t do much to help, but Mitch apparently also uses his metal powers to stay attached to the chassis of the plane while the angel harries him from the air as the plane keeps flying. Looking at this sequence for too long makes me think about how fast planes fly in the sky, and how high, but whatever. The guy is hanging on to the plane and the angel keeps up. Just go with it.
While we’re on the subject, Dagnino’s pencils are the issue’s weak point. They have a darkness and moodiness appropriate to the tone of the material, but on a competence level they would best be described as “serviceable” if they indeed did service to the story. Unfortunately, unless the captions explain what exactly is happening (and they usually don’t), it’s difficult to tell when Mitch is using his magnetism powers, and how. He just sort of stands on top of a speeing plane. You just have to assume he tosses the angel aside because she has metal arms. (And why does an angel have metal arms? If you guessed “so the plot works better,” you’re probably right. But it looks kind of cool, so no harm, no foul.) So if “serviceable” isn’t the right word to describe the book’s art, I guess I’m going to go with “competent.” The script is of significantly higher caliber, so it would be nice to get an artist fully up to the challenge of the material.
So anyway, Mitch is attached to the top of the plane (I guess), and the angel tells him “This flight was doomed before it even took off. Fate had decided that. These people were never going to reach Portland. Your soul’s overdue, Mitch. It’s become very precious. A prize!”
Mitch yells “No!” and creates a magnetic field around the angel, drawing a strike of lightning that seems to destroy the creature. The resuling “sskkzzakkttkk” throws Mitch from the plane and well, into one of its jet engines. “The screaming engine chews me up,” he narrates. “I die. The plane crashes. Everyone dies.”
Mitch awakens some time later at the crash site (his resurrection powers apparently also regenerate his clothes). He wonders if he caused the deaths of all of the people on the doomed flight, and freaks out about it. He knows he won’t be able to answer any questions when the authorities arrive, and to the approaching sound of sirens, he takes off through the forest.
This time, Mitch’s power allows him to turn into water. “I taste tears,” he narrates, “and I flow away.”
Cut to two hotties demanding information about the missing John Doe from the staff at the coroner’s office from page 1. Incidentally, a sign on the fence outside the building says “CORONER’S OFFICE”. The same sign, shown from the same angle, is on page 1, but there is no writing on the sign. This doesn’t really take away from the issue, but it is an annoying little error that I’d expect the editor to have noticed.
Anyway, the two hotties are total bitches, and they start torturing and murdering the staff. Who are these nasty chicks, and why are they looking for Mitch? We aren’t told.
Then we cut back to the crash site, and one of the fire and rescue guys is on a cell phone. “I had him, but he slipped away,” the man says, and as he approaches we see a red teardrop tattoo on his face. OMG! It’s the angel from the plane! “I know how much you guys upstairs want him… And, man! That soul of his. So bright. Like it’s polished from coming back so often… Plus I think the basement office is interested in him too. I can smell them coming.”
In fact, I suspect the agents of “the basement office” are the two hottie BTK fiends from the corner’s office. So what we have here is a war between Heaven and Hell for the polished soul of Mitch Shelley. That’s a fun premise for a book about a guy who keeps coming back from the dead, and I think it’s good for a really entertaining arc, if not as a hook for the entire series.
There’s a last-page scene with a tarot card reader laying out her cards. “No matter how many times I shuffle,” she says, “the Resurrection Man always comes back.” I think this is supposed to be a DC character called Madame Xanadu that’s all over this relaunch, but I have no way of telling for sure. It’s clearly set up for the next issue, and it does seem a little tacked on. But despite my bagging on Dagnino’s art earlier, the last page is beautifully drawn.
This is one of the better ones. I’m intrigued, I’m entertained, and I’m eager to see what happens next month.