Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s title is one of the more obscure relaunched DC properties. Resurrection Man is remembered fondly in certain circles of fandom, although anyone curious to read the original run would have to go hunting through the back issue bins. The premise is quite simple, with hero Mitch dying and being reborn constantly, each time with a new set of powers. Abnett and Lanning’s new storyline hits the ground running, with Mitch discovering he is a pawn in a conflict between the armies of Heaven and Hell.
Mitch finds himself reborn on a metallic gurney with magnetic powers, feeling an intense desire to travel to Portland. Boarding his flight, he meets an unusual woman introducing herself as Sue, who proceeds to describe the hidden thoughts of every other passenger on the plane. Mitch is a little alarmed, but tolerates the woman, mainly because he finds himself thinking “Wow. She’s hot. In a Gaga kind of way.”
Unfortunately for Mitch, the lady is actually an angelic being known as Suriel and she is hunting for his soul. The lives of the other passengers on board the flight are considered acceptable collateral and despite Mitch’s efforts the plane crashes.
If that was not enough, two seemingly psychotic Valley Girls named Bonnie and Carmen are also on the hunt, and Suriel hints to an unseen employer that the two of them are demons.
This maybe an unusual feature to compliment, but the title design of Resurrection Man is perhaps the most impressive of the new 52 relaunched set, hearkening back to the style of The Twilight Zone or The Prisoner. The challenge for Abnett and Lanning here storywiseis for Mitch to not become just another comic book deus ex machina. Certainly the premise of an immortal hero with continually changing superpowers could easily lead the unwary writer into delivering script after script of Mary Sue nonsense. Thankfully the arc plot of a war between two groups of inhumans with Mitch caught in the middle should frame his adventures in an effective way. It also seems as if the circumstances of his resurrection each time defines what powers he receives. The opening panels feature the many metallic implements in his surroundings before he returns to life with magnetic abilities. Later his misery over the fate of the plane he had boarded results in his body disintegrating into liquid “I taste tears… and I flow away.”
Unfortunately Fernando Dagnino’s art is inconsistent in its detail, with ‘Sue’ in particular having an unusually sketchy appearance – and that’s before she transforms into a many-limbed, bare-breasted angel warrior. Mitch’s features are strongly detailed throughout, so when he is shown sitting beside Suriel the contrast in style between them makes her appear vaguer somehow. Presumably this is deliberate, as the level of detail given to Mitch would age Sue, whose face is almost a blank. Still contrast that artistic choice with that of Frank Quitely, who specializes in capturing the ruddy quality of human faces. There is also a panel with the doomed plane being surrounded by the souls of the damned that is intended to be terrifying, but instead just looks a bit odd.
I am curious to see where this storyline is going though and despite the requisite appearance of the mysterious hooded woman somehow responsible for the new 52 DC universe, I hope Mitch is not going to have any encounters with brightly coloured superheroes. This is a dark fantasy tale that ideally will be a Vertigo title in all but name – a latter-day Preacher with fewer d*ck jokes.