I’m a fan of comic book heroes that dwell on the fringes of mainstream comicdom. These characters, like Swamp Thing, John Constantine, and Animal Man, often sit astride the line between superhero and horror comics. That’s a precarious place to be because, if you stray to far in either direction, you lose the fragile magic that makes these books so fun to read. I’m not very familiar with the Resurrection Man but the cover art and pre-release info for DC’s New 52 suggested a supernatural superhero comic and the cover from Ivan Reis and Joe Prado (both of ‘Green Lantern’) caught my attention.
This issue fulfilled on the promise of the cover and more. ‘Resurrection Man’ follows the tale of Mitch Shelley, a man who is essentially an immortal. Mitch can die, but he will just come back to life. The superhero twist is that each resurrection endows Mitch with a new super power. This has the potential for some very unique tales down the road. In the first issue alone, Mitch has two distinct super powers, both of which come in handy under the proper circumstances. As the first issue progresses, Mitch’s tale becomes more supernatural and less super hero but it still manages to keep that delicate balance in tact for an enjoyable paranormal superhero romp.
[Warning: spoilers arise below.]
The story opens in a morgue as Mitch is returning to life. We quickly learn that this is a common, although not altogether pleasant, experience for Mitch. When he wakes up on the slab, Mitch has an electromagnetic power. A more interesting side effect of Mitch’s resurrections is that each time he returns, he experiences unexplained urges to do things and help people. For example, this time he feels that he must get on a plane and travel to Portland, Oregon.
Aboard the plane, Mitch meets Sue. Sue is a mysterious and oddly charismatic lady who seems to know everything about all of the plane’s passengers, including Mitch. When the plane hits some severe turbulence, Sue reveals her true nature and tells Mitch that all of the passengers on the plane are destined to die. To make it worse, it appears as if this might be Mitch’s final death since Sue tells him that his soul is overdue for the afterlife. Mitch uses his magnetic powers in an attempt to save the plane and inadvertently causes it to crash, killing everyone on board.
The story cuts to a brief aside at the morgue where Mitch last rose from the dead. Two girls are torturing the workers trying to find out what happened to Mitch’s body. Back at the crash site, Mitch is returning to life again amidst the wreckage. Firefighters are searching for survivors but it appears as if at least one of the rescue workers is not what he seems. Mitch uses his newfound power to escape the scene, literally one step ahead of the supernatural forces that are coming to claim his soul. As the story closes, the fortune telling Madame Xanadu appears and enigmatically says that the return of the Resurrection Man “spells trouble”.
With Mitch being caught between the armies of Heaven and Hell, ‘Resurrection Man’ left me thinking of ‘Hellblazer’. But, unlike John Constantine, Mitch Shelley isn’t a cad and didn’t ask to be caught up in his curious predicament. ‘Resurrection man’ is unquestionably a different kind of super powered tale and one that would probably attract readers who normally don’t care for Superman, Batman, and their ilk. I just hope that a few of those readers take the chance and pick up ‘Resurrection Man’ so that this title doesn’t fall through the cracks of DC’s 52 first issues.
RESURRECTION MAN #1
Written by DAN ABNETT and ANDY LANNING
Art by FERNANDO DAGNINO
Cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO