Monday, October 23, 2006

Resurrection Man #4

Resurrection Man #4, August 1997, DC Comics
writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
penciller: Butch Guice
inkers: John Stanisci & Ray Kryssing
colorist: Carla Feeny
letterer: Ken Lopez
associate editor: Dana Kurtin
editor: Eddie Berganza

Since yesterday's review was about a man that can raise himself from the dead, and A Comic A Day was effectively inoperable for a few hours (right at the cusp of a new review day, no less), I thought today's read, Resurrection Man, would be an appropriate follow-up. Resurrection Man is certainly more domestic than The Damned; whereas Eddie was grappling with demonic forces (however mundane as a modern day mob), Mitch Shelley's nemeses are his wife and her boyfriend, whose connection to crime are apparently documented on a mysterious set of disks that Mitch doesn't even know he has. I guess dying that many times has that affect on you. Sometimes you'd lose your head if it wasn't attached.

Except, in Mitch's case, he does lose his head. In this issue alone, the Resurrection Man is poisoned, stabbed, shot, beheaded, clubbed, and blown up, and every time (except that last one, which is where the issue leaves off), he bounces back within just a few panels' time. Butch Guice, whose work I've enjoyed in titles like Birds of Prey, captures this cycle with the right balance of realism and creepiness, and although the letter col implies that Guice had been inking his own pages, this issue's inking responsibilities are divided between two artists, and the book suffers for it. Guice is his own best inker, and with twelve pages between these two fill-ins, the issue loses a self-contained continuity and the overtone of mood necessary for such subject matter. Hopefully Guice bounced back as quickly as our hero, or I can see why this series took a one-way trip to the cancellation grave.

I enjoyed this issue because, like The Damned, our main character didn't accept his situation lightly to make way for more unnecessary plot. I can see a writer instilling an, "Oh, I can come back from the dead? Uhm, okay," mentality in their lead to pave a shortcut toward more storylines, but in his fourth issue, the Resurrection Man still isn't sure why he'd been blessed (cursed?), and to what ends he can use this ability other than self-preservation. In fact, one scene is extremely familiar, in which Mitch finds some solace as his journey takes a leap in the right direction. "For the first time, I feel like something is happening," he think. "After all of today's madness, something like a resolution is in sight." We've all had those thoughts before in the midst of a hardship or a challenge. Of course, things take a turn for the worse, but his name is the Resurrection Man. Whatever doesn't kill him . . .

. . . will try harder until it does, I suppose. In yesterday's ill-fated review, I spoke of duality, and the Resurrection Man is all about it. When he's on his feet, alive, he's an average Joe. Yet, in those moments just post-resurrection, he's an animal, almost like a vampire, clawing his way back into existence with a strength and determination he may not even remember when the life-thirst leaves him. If only we were so desperate for meaning, but I don't think that what Mitch's story is about. No wife, no friends, no idea who he is. He's in it alone. That's something to which we can relate.

No comments: