Overview

The Middleman #1

Review

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The Middleman #1

Credits

  • Words: Javier Grillo-Marxuach
  • Art: Les McClaine
  • Inks: Les McClaine
  • Colors: N/A
  • Story Title: The Middleman
  • Publisher: Viper Comics
  • Price: $2.95
  • Release Date: Jul 13, 2005

When monsters run rampant and weirdness abounds, just call the Middleman…"Fighting evil so you don’t have to."

While working a temp job at a scientific research facility, Wendy Watson is unexpectedly attacked by a monstrous mutant birthed by her employers’ unholy experiments. Just when all seems lost, a dashing fellow in a vaguely militaristic uniform intercedes. Quickly dispensing with the monster, the stranger known simply as the Middleman vanishes. But before departing, he swears Wendy to secrecy—on penalty of death! When people begin to question her sanity, what will become of our long-suffering heroine?

With The Middleman, Javier Grillo-Marxuach has introduced an engaging and imaginative concept and seems determined to keep his readers in stitches with this slightly skewed sci-fi/adventure tale. In the spirit of Men in Black, the Middleman appears to be defending an oblivious world from the paranormal and unexplained. As with any humor-driven story, not all of the jokes necessarily work but when they do, there is some true comedic gold in this issue. The banter between the characters is energetic and effective, endearing the cast to the reader from the start. There are also moments of sheer absurdity that work to the issue’s advantage, from ridiculous monsters to bizarre apartment-mates quoting the lyrics of "Shaft" and a gangster whose calling card is evidently a banana peel.

There was one aspect of the comic that had me slightly concerned. It may simply be my editorial training but I was distracted by a number of spelling errors and apparent misprints throughout the issue. This is a fairly minor thing but there were enough that it was noticeable and it reflected poorly on an otherwise professionally produced comic. The creative team may want to watch out for that in future issues.

Les McClaine’s delightfully cartoonish artwork does much to contribute to the absurdist tone of the story. McClaine seems to be combining influences from animation, Pop Art, and campy 50s sci-fi movies and the mating of these styles pays off. The black and white images are enhanced by grayscale dots that are reminiscent of the coloring techniques of old comics or Roy Lichtenstein paintings, giving The Middleman a unique look. And the infectious smirk of the lead character leaves me instantly intrigued and amused.

In a climate where comics heroes have become increasingly dark, it’s always fun to find a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you are seeking such a book, The Middleman may be right up your alley.

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