Today, Patrick and Peter are discussing Resurrection Man 0, originally released September 12, 2012. Resurrection Man 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Patrick: Clones are a tricky business. Whenever there’s an exact double of an individual, there’s always a question of which one is “real.” The thought being that the original was there first, and therefore its survival is more morally important than that of the duplicate. But that’s bad news for Mitch Shelley, hero of the Resurrection Man series. Y’see, he’s an amnesiac clone, and the only way to keep resurrecting and cycling through superpowers is to offer up the soul of the original to pay off a debt to Heaven/Hell. No, I don’t know what I’m talking about.
We begin at a showdown between man and clone in the present. It’s Mitch vs. Mitch! Then we wind back the clock to that “Five Years Ago” era and get the gory details of how the original Mitch lost an arm during an attack in Iraq (and hey, Deathstroke was there!). Mitch demanded that everyone injured in the attack be treated the a tektite solution — basically magical, but untested, nanobots. Results vary.
They re-attach Mitch’s arm, but then decide to throw it away later because HE HAS A NEW ARM GROWING IN UNDER IT. It’s gross. The old garbage-arm is incinerated, but the tektite particles decide that they’re not finished yet! Tektites reform Mitch’s entire body — this new version can never really be killed, because a cloud of tektites can always respawn him. I trust that this is where the Resurrection Man series kicks in. Back in the present, Mitch (uh, our Mitch) offers up the soul of his aggressor to an angel. With the bad guy defeated (but in Heaven, I guess), Mitch is recruited by some demon-y guy for… well, he’s non-specific on the particulars.
This is an exceptionally elegant execution of what must have seemed like an impossible mandate. This is simultaneously Resurrection Man‘s origin AND its final issue. It demands that both the beginning and the end of year-long narrative arc be expressed within 20 pages. Most of the New 52 titles took an en media res approach to their #1s, so I suppose it’s natural that there are blanks on the extreme ends of this story. And while I may have missed out on the day-to-day of this series and this character, I feel like the zero gave me enough to understand the mythology of this character and recognize him when he inevitably shows up later in the New 52 (working for some kind of demon detective agency or something).
I wonder how fans of the series are responding to this issue. For someone new to the entire concept, this felt like a tight and engaging DC Universe Presents. The one main problem I see is that this issue does a lot more to characterize the original Mitch than clone-Mitch (who is our titular hero). But the world around Resurrection Man, complete with secret military groups, even secreter labs and soul-hungry devils and angels, is interesting enough entice me back to a character that has to suffer through it.
Oh, I guess the other problem I have is with the women. Sigh. Note to writers and artists: just because you have female characters, doesn’t mean they have to have their clothes blown off at some point in the narrative.
There’s just no reason for it – other than showing some skin. These characters are named Hoffman and Leno, and both of them survive to the end of the series. And their survival seems contingent on how bad-ass they are, not on how frequently their boobies pop out.
There were also two separate occurrences of characters saying “what the hell?” where Hell was literally part of the answer to the question. Twice. And each time, there’s a character there to point that out. “YEAH, LITERALLY HELL.” Jay Leno used to say if someone steals your joke, write a new joke. I don’t know what his advice would be when you’ve stolen your own joke.
There’s some other noteworthy shit in here (like that drawing of the new arm coming in – again, gross) but I’ll leave that to you, Peter. Did you enjoy our brief detour into and out of Resurrection Man’s world?
Peter: I had a lot of fun with this book. Like you, I’ve never read an issue of Resurrection Man before the zero issue. I agree they did a really good job making this both the first issue and the last issue. Resurrection Man’s world is fun — it’s a little Captain Atom, Hellblazer, Dial H, and Animal Man all rolled into one. I enjoyed what I have read, but without promise of more story, I can’t see myself going back and reading the previous/later 12 issues.
There is a lot of good literary stuff here. It’s a comic book’s look at the class Self and the Other. (Sorry, LOST fans, not the Others.) Abnett and Lanning use this device to show Mitch’s growth towards self-knowledge and reinforce it with the background battle for Mitch’s soul between an angel and a demon. In fact, there is a pile of duality and ying-yang references in this book. You got good-Mitch and bad-Mitch; an angel and a demon; souls; all that stuff. It’s nice to for the theme to carry through, and it doesn’t really overwhelm the comic book action.
Abnett and Lanning also never take Resurrection Man too seriously, and their offbeat humor further distinguishes this misfit fantasy/sci-fi/horror title. The “bad” guy gets the best lines — of course — as well as the final word. The demon is still unnamed at the end of Resurrection Man, even though he is a cunning scene-stealer. His line, “Relax, woman. I just did a bit of demon-y magic stuff” made me laugh aloud, and Resurrection Man #0 ends on a perfect, lighthearted note, promising that it is “[Never Ever] The End.”
The idea of Resurrection Man is a good concept, and had I picked it up earlier, I think I would have enjoyed it. However, now that it’s ending, that train has left the station. I think that Mitch would fit well into other books. I could totally see the Justice League Dark guys running into him at some point, or Alec and/or Buddy — especially since Mitch is all death-y. Anyway, good read overall.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?