Overview

The Bionic Man #1

Review

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The Bionic Man #1

Credits

  • Words: kevin Smith & Phil Hester
  • Art: Jonathan Lau
  • Colors: Ivan Nunes
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Aug 24, 2011

The Bionic Man looks great thanks to Lau’s art, but Smith’s voice may be too loud to fully enjoy the character.

Fans will know the Bionic Man to be the main character of the 1970s TV series The Six Million Dollar Man, which inspired Kevin Smith to write a movie script starring test pilot turned half-robot Steve Austin. After reading the first issue, it is clear that Smith’s version of the character was inspired a little too much by its writer.

Hester does a solid job adapting the movie script into a comic book, which has taken the property and updated it for modern times. A hooded man appears at a secret robotics lab to steal a sandwich, destroy the prototypes, and stab all the scientists with a sword. It makes for a morbidly humorous opening, but what follows is a mixed bag. Steve, his girlfriend, scientist Oscar Goldman, and the General are all well-developed characters, but Steve’s speech and mannerisms are all undeniably Smith’s work. He’s just plain vulgar; there’s a permanent smug grin on his face; and he has no problems making jokes at his boss’s expense. He is a far cry from the Steve Austin from the TV series or even the novels from which that was adapted, and while reinvigorating a character is not forbidden when doing a reimagining, it doesn’t help for Smith to abandon all qualities of the original character and reshape him into an in-shape, good-looking version of himself who knows how to fly a plane.

That said, the art provides a few saving graces. Lau’s imagery in the starting pages is full of style: he plays the opening page with the perfect amount of humor and danger, a scientist gets his head chopped off in a rather creative way, and the reveal of the villain’s true countenance is unsettling, if only because he appears to have a USB drive in place of his right eye. Most of his character designs look great with a lot of variety – a lean Air Force woman, a dumpy doctor with a mustache like a hair brush, and the skinny Goldman who likes to loosen up his tie – but Steve in particular looks off. His neck is obscenely thick, his shoulders are too broad to fit his body type, and his eyes are stuck in a permanent squint. Is that what Smith would look like if he pumped iron?

For those familiar with the source material, there will be no surprise when the fateful events of the final pages unravel, but that doesn’t stop this iteration of the franchise from feeling fresh and modern. There’s a great deal of setup in this issue and it looks to be heading in a mostly promising direction, but it would do the property good to lighten Smith’s voice throughout. For example, was it really necessary to show Steve getting a prostate exam?

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