Resurrection Man #1

Resurrection Man #1

B+

Resurrection Man is the first of two books I read this week that Tom Tomorrow convinced me to buy. Really, it wasn’t that hard a sell; in a way, I feel like writer Dan Abnett is my homeboy after he kindly granted this site our first major interview a few months ago. He’s a stand-up guy and a solid writer, and despite my hesitance about whether this series could live again — pun intended — I really wanted to like it.

I must say, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Resurrection Man #1. It’s already in my top five relaunch books, and though it could certainly be knocked out in the next couple weeks, it will remain a strong debut that will have me happily returning to future installments.

What do I like about it? For one, the core concept is incredibly strong. Our hero, Mitch Shelley (aka Resurrection Man himself) has been granted the unique ability to never die — any time something would kill him, he simply pops back to life about a half hour later. Each time he does so, he manifests a new superpower, seemingly at random. This debut issue sees Mitch gaining control of magnetism and then possessing the ability to turn into water. A power set like that means that Abnett and co-writer Andy Lanning can keep things creative on the superhero front for a long time.

As you might imagine, Mitch’s ability is both a blessing and a curse. The cost of superpowers and immortality is a lot of pain and a lot of confusion. We find out halfway through this issue that Shelley’s soul is in high demand among the creatures of the afterlife — both Heaven and Hell have seemingly sent agents to retrieve it. Shelley, meanwhile, just wants to help people; he’s compelled by his abilities to do, in his words, “a new… thing I just have to do” every time he comes back.

That vagueness is the biggest thing that hurts this issue, in my opinion. I understand the need for mysteries, especially in a debut — readers need some hook to keep coming back — but I might have liked a little more explanation nonetheless. What is Shelley doing in the first place, for instance? Presumably he hops on a jet to Portland to save someone there, but we don’t know that for sure. Also, why does this first issue’s main antagonist, named simply “Sue,” feel compelled to “escort [Mitch] off the flight” before catastrophe strikes? Wouldn’t he just regenerate anyway — he can’t die, right? I’m sure there are answers to both those questions, but I feel it’s strange to leave two such major plot points open from the word “go;” Abnett and Lanning are trusting on their hero being compelling enough to carry us through to the second issue.

I must say, I also didn’t love the art on this book. It comes courtesy of Fernando Dagnino, whose previous credits include Justice League: Generation Lost. I actually thought Dagnino was the best part of Generation Lost artistically, but there he had an inker. Here he inks himself, which can be troublesome. Between his present ink lines and the overly muted colors of Rob Leigh, Dagnino’s solid pencilwork seems to get lost. I realize this book needs to establish a darker tone visually to fit its mood, and it does fine at that, but the whole thing still ends up looking a little sketchier than I’d like.

Still, the idea alone behind Resurrection Man is solid, and the mystery set up in the first issue is more than enough for me to continue following. I’m really happy I liked this book — it would break my heart to give Abnett a bad review — but I’m really surprised I liked it as much as I did. But then, that’s what this New 52 is all about, right?

Pull list verdict: KEEP IT

tags: andy lanning, dan abnett, fernando dagnino, resurrection man, the new 52

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