Or – “Mitchell Shelley…  A Man Barely Alive.”

We often hear about concepts that are “ahead of their time,” like the original run of The Prisoner, or Hendrix guitar riffs at Monterrey Pop.  The DC New 52 relaunch has apparently made a cottage industry out of these type of characters (Hawk & Dove, O.M.A.C., Static Shock and others) but this time, they’ve really nailed the one character in their history that MOST DESERVED a second shot.  The original run of Resurrection Man feels like a comic from 2004 rather than 1990-whichever, and I for one am glad to see it back on the stands.  What’s going on in the life of the man who won’t die?

RESURRECTION MAN #1
Writer(s): Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Colorist: Santi Arcas
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor(s): Eddie Berganza & Rex Ogle
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Resurrection Man:  Mitch Shelley was a hard-luck Louie, a lawyer who found himself the unwilling lab rate of a group of super-scientists who inject him with something called “Tektites” (invented by Wesley Crusher in season one of Star Trek: The Next Generation), which rebuild his body every time he recieved traumatic injury, usually with a new super-ability (often related to the mode of death.)  Chased by the agents of “The Lab,” including a pair of stripperific mercenearies known as the Body Doubles, Mitch Shelley must let the world go on thinking that he, too, is dead, until he can find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him.  No, wait, that’s David Banner.  Mitch Shelly has found a new calling with each new body, and now he’s about to embark on the latest leg of his endless journey.

IT’S LIKE DAVID KIMBLE, ONLY WITH SUPER-POWERS…

If you’ve read a Marvel comic in the last decade or so, especially one that involves a space hero, you’re probably familiar with Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, aka DnA.  Well, back in the post-Zero Hour day, they created the Resurrection Man as a reg’lar feller who kept coming back from the dead with super-powers.  It’s a simple concept, and they hit the ground running in this issue, opening in a morgue with Mitch Shelley narrating his umpteenth return:  “Everything tastes of metal…  Except the UNIMAGINABLE pain of coming back to life.”  The basics of what you need to know about Mitch are easily laid out, as he steals clothes from the hospital locker room (even reminding himself that insurance will replace the poor guy’s credit cards to assuage his guilty) and sets off on a new quest.  Each time he comes back, he has different powers (magnetic abilities, this time) and an urge to go to a certain place.  Boarding a plane for for Portland, Mitch muses about the cycle of his life, and the writers SHOW us what kind of character he is through his actions.

DON’T LET THE BARBIE FACADES FOOL YA…

Another carry-over from the previous R.M. series comes in the form of his recurring antagonists, Bonny and Carmen, the Body Doubles, a pair of supremely confident and capable mercenaries with a perfect disguise mechanism:  They dress and act like bubble-headed bimbos.  In lesser hands, this could come off as offensive, but here it’s more disturbing as the ladies interrogate, torture and then murder a man trying to track down what happened to Mitch Shelley’s body.  It’s really chilling to see Carmen (dressed in a plaid schoolgirl skirt and tie combo) come up with her plan:  “Let’s find another one, ask the same questions.  But THIS TIME, let’s not GAG him!”  While the Doubles seek Shelley on the ground, he finds that other people are searching for him in the air, as a strange woman on the plane proves to be MUCH more than he bargained for.  There is a spectacular mid-air battle, a crash, and our hero is chopped to bits in a plane engine.  (He gets better.)  The issue ends with the ominous feeling that more than just HUMAN forces are seeking the Resurrection Man, and there’s a cameo by someone I think might just be Madame Xanadu…

THE VERDICT:  HERE’S YOUR SLEEPER HIT, SPECULATORS!

I really liked the pacing of this particular issue, and how personal it feels, as Mitch’s perspective is the one that we start the issue with.  The necessary exposition of the first-issue relaunch is very well-handled here, and the art reminds me just enough of the character’s co-creator Jackson Guice to keep it tied to the old series, but is fresh enough to fit in the 2011 batch of creators.  The Body Doubles are pretty girls, but clearly menacing in their actions, while Mitch’s gruesome death is shown in a clever and even discreet manner.  Overall, the only real weakness in the book is that there’s not a whole lot of explanation going on, and even that is probably only going to be a hindrance to those who need everything spelled out for them upfront.  Having read all 27 issues of Volume 1, I have to say that this book will appeal to anyone who knows the character from the 90’s, but should appeal to fans of the old Incredible Hulk series, or The Fugitive.  Resurrection Man #1 rises from the great beyond in high style, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall, and I believe it SHOULD be one of the surprise hits of the relaunch.  If you’ve never read any R.M., this one comes recommended.

Rating: ★★★★½

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Which relaunch title so far has done the best job of showing us what has come before without undermining the new-and-different aspect of the relaunch?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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22 Comments

  1. ssmetzer
    September 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm — Reply

    I agree with your review Matthew. I picked up a digital copy yesterday and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the issue.

    I advise anyone looking for a paper copy to pick one up ASAP. If your local comic book store is anything like mine, it probably doesn’t have that many copies of this “sleeper” title in the rack.

  2. The Great NateO
    September 15, 2011 at 1:09 pm — Reply

    This book and DEMON KNIGHTS by far the best reads for this week for DCU

  3. Noobian74
    September 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm — Reply

    Glad to be the first to respond and hope I’m not the last.

    The answer to your spoilerette question, Mr. Peterson? Two words: THIS BOOK! I LOVED this series and was pissed when it was cancelled. When I saw that the character was coming back from the dead like a phoenix, it gave me some hope for this relaunch. Of course, they had to include the Body Doubles. MVery underused characters. Should’ve seen them in some of the Gotham books at least.

    Liked the darker almost Vertigo-esque way DnA are handling this and can’t wait to see more.

    • Noobian74
      September 15, 2011 at 1:11 pm — Reply

      Note to self: need to type/post faster. That way, when Isay I’m the first, I will be. D’oh! Maybe they’ll retcon this?

      *crickets*

      Guess not.

  4. Ricco
    September 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm — Reply

    Anyone else annoyed that the Mystery Figure in Flashpoint 5 is so far in all 52 1st issues?

    • Noobian74
      September 15, 2011 at 2:27 pm — Reply

      Uh oh. Hope it’s not Harbinger. Do we really need the Relaunch Crisis?

    • September 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm — Reply

      Anyone else annoyed that the Mystery Figure in Flashpoint 5 is so far in all 52 1st issues?

      Nope. I’m actually kind of entertained by that… It’s an interesting little tie-in to remind us that this is a newly shared universe and such.

  5. September 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm — Reply

    How can this be a sleeper? Its DnA.

    • September 15, 2011 at 2:18 pm — Reply

      Well, people seem to have overlooked it…

      • Noobian74
        September 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm — Reply

        Probably the same thing that happened to the original series. People keep overlooking the good stuff, but supporting the mediocre. Sigh.

  6. KevinpBreen
    September 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm — Reply

    Possibly overlooked because RESURRECTION MAN is not as easy a title as BATMAN or SWAMP THING. Besides, people might think it’s about Jesus. BTW, the Fugitive was Richard Kimble, not David. David was the tv version of Bruce Banner, so it’s already getting convoluted.

    • September 15, 2011 at 6:09 pm — Reply

      BTW, the Fugitive was Richard Kimble, not David. David was the tv version of Bruce Banner, so it’s already getting convoluted.

      Well, yeah… That was kinda the joke, combining Richard Kimble and David Banner, as though I were talking with my Grandma, who in 1980 was heard to say, “OH MY GOD! They’ve shot Jack Lemmon!”

      • KevinpBreen
        September 16, 2011 at 12:36 am — Reply

        Yeah. Right. Meant it that way. ; )

  7. Randallw
    September 15, 2011 at 10:42 pm — Reply

    My only previous experience with Ressurection Man was the 1 million DC story with Vandal Savage. I expected more of that sort of thing and was dissapointed with the way this series starts off. The supernatural stuff worked great for Animal Man but I simply didn’t like this. I plan to cancel this one.

  8. Kirby
    September 16, 2011 at 11:26 am — Reply

    I really enjoyed this issue, despite never reading a Resurrection Man story before. Though, with the first scene, I cannot help but read all of his dialogue done by Paul McGann.

    • September 16, 2011 at 12:54 pm — Reply

      I really enjoyed this issue, despite never reading a Resurrection Man story before. Though, with the first scene, I cannot help but read all of his dialogue done by Paul McGann.

      HA! That’s brilliant!!!

      • brenton8090
        September 18, 2011 at 8:57 pm — Reply

        I was thinking of Jon Pertwee. Opera cape, anyone?

  9. mycoolroy
    September 17, 2011 at 2:02 am — Reply

    I am new to comics and this is my favorite comic book hero. It is also my favorite book of the new 52 (2nd is Animal man 3rd is Swamp thing those were also great.) “The Dark” line up is looking awesome I think I will stick to those comics.

  10. brenton8090
    September 18, 2011 at 9:00 pm — Reply

    Alright. This book is a keeper. I’ve never read RM before, so I went in cold, and I still don’t know what’s really going on, but it’s a creepy supernatural mystery book, so I’m more than happy to be in the DARK (get it?). I just wish they’d clarified some things. They hinted that he might change appearance when he resurrects, even though it doesn’t look like it. Also, it would help me if they’d used his real name a few more times. I hate books where I can never remember the characters names. But the story, the concept, and the gorgeous art (he-LLO Bad girls!) will keep me coming back and drooling for more. I haven’t read Demon Knights yet, but this is in my top 3 with Animal Man and Batwoman.

  11. Damascus
    September 21, 2011 at 3:00 am — Reply

    I love the concept, but then again, I quite liked the short-lived Marvel Initiative character named Spinner who got a new power every so many hours too. I own one Resurrection Man comic, number 17 from 1997 with Supergirl in it, and that I bought for the cover. Also, I did pick up a bunch of those Villains/New Year’s Evil arc books that came out in 1998 that had a Darkseid book and Scarecrow and the Rogues and one was Body Doubles and I’d never heard of them but once you mentioned them as being those two girls in this book it hit me that I knew they looked familiar. I never really knew anything about the character but I’m happy with the way this issue was presented. I feel like I know what’s going on, without knowing what’s going on, if that makes any sense.

    I also thought it was amusing that the airline that Mitch finds himself on is called Lazarus Airlines. I thought that was a clever little bit there. The Hooded Lady has some really long ass fingers too, I’m just sayin’. And I was also getting that Madam Xanadu vibe in the book too, and I don’t even really know who that is. Another point that I thought was really interesting was the woman “Sue” on the plane with the teardrop who turned all demonic presents herself as in the interests of those who want his soul, that it’s long overdue. I read this part and felt like I understood, and later in the forest there’s another man dressed as a fire fighter with the same tattoo talking to his superiors on a phone and he says “I know how much you guys upstairs want him.” And he also mentions that the Basement office is interested too, because he can smell them coming. I wasn’t expecting that, maybe I should have but I wasn’t.

    • KevinpBreen
      September 21, 2011 at 5:11 am — Reply

      There was also The Sleeper by Roger Zelazny in the WILD CARDS paperback series. He slept for long periods and awoke with a new power each time. There’s nothing new under the sun.

  12. KevinpBreen
    September 21, 2011 at 5:13 am — Reply

    Oh, yeah, and even The Sleeper wasn’t new. The CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN villain Multi-Man kept metamorphing into new bodies with new powers back in the 60s.

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