Resurrection Man #1
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by Fernando Dagnino and Santi Arcas
The first Dan and Andy book to ever enter my collection was Resurrection Man #1,000,000 well over a decade ago. I pulled it out of a one dollar grab bag at my local comic shop, and it wound up capping off the 1,000,000 issues of GL and Martian Manhunter that I’d read and never seen the next chapter of. This was my first interaction with Mitch Shelley, and I was hooked from the start. A character who quite frankly can not stay dead. That’s one of the first things that hooked me, he’s not an immortal being who can withstand anything, he’s a man who feels all the horrible pains from every sort of death that he has experienced, and then he wakes up good as new. He’s immortal, but he can die…it just never sticks. Couple that with a new super power every time he comes back? When I finally found a complete run of the title when I was a freshman in college, he quickly went from character that piqued my interest to one of my favorites. Unfortunately, save for a few random and unimportant appearances, Mitch dropped off the radar for the past twelve years.
When Abnett and Lanning came back to DC after an extended absence during Flashpoint, and DC announced the relaunch, my fingers were crossed hoping for their return to the DCU. But where would they land? They had a great run on the Legion of Super Heroes, they’re time in Marvel would make them natural additions to the cosmic scene, or you could tack them on to something completely different (they did write the Lois Lane mini in Flashpoint) and see what happens. Or, and this is a big or, but you could bring them back with the Resurrection Man and finally let Mitch get his due. Obviously this was the case, but hey, it’s worth noting that the creators could have gone almost anywhere in the company and tackled just about any character.
The premise of the book differs from the original status quo in a few regards, but Dan and Andy manage to retain the core of what made it work. Mitch dies, a lot, and he comes back with super powers and memory holes, and now he also has an unexplained sense of direction. He comes back knowing that there is something he must do, and he is drawn to it. This sets up the issue, as we open with him rising from a dead and being unable to ignore a compulsion to fly to Portland. Boarding the plane it’s not long before he’s drawn into a conflict, and it is through that conflict that we find out what his future will be. Not unlike the plot of Spawn, Heaven and hell are in a race/war to get souls and given the nature of Mitch’s abilities, his is in high demand. His soul only seem to get that much more valuable and precious the more time he is brought back (which is the difference from Spawn where he’s supposed to be a weapon of one side), and it’s made clear that both sides will stop at nothing to get him.
Fernando Dagnino is someone whose praises I spent a year singing due to his every third issue stint on Justice League: Generation Lost and I’ll go as far as to say his style is much better suited on this title. It’s dark, gritty, moody, and while he successfully has done super heroes, this book is a far cry from bright costumes and characters. Mitch doesn’t have the conventional look, hell, nobody in this title does, and Dagnino does an excellent job making everyone look unique. The book has a realistic atmosphere to it, despite the complete craziness. The antagonist character in the issue, brought out for the fight, brings this book clearly into a subsection of horror that I think will only make the title better, and Dagnino captures the element greatly.
Part of me expected this book to read better to me out of nostalgia, due to the fact that I was a big fan of the original series. I’m very pleased that the title reads solidly on its own, and while a familiarity with Mitch Shelley does help to ease a reader in, it’s hardly needed. Dan and Andy set the character up nicely and by the end of the issue you might not know all there is to know about Mitch, but you know enough to make you want to see what happens next. They establish a great hook and give us a unique character in the DCU, and hands down, it’s one of the best books I’ve read out of the Relaunch. Resurrection Man is back, and he is must read.