Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kevin Smith's The Bionic Man, Volume 1: Some Assembly Required

 Dynamite continues in the vein of their GREEN HORNET series by adapting another unfilmed Kevin Smith screenplay. This time it's THE BIONIC MAN, VOLUME ONE: SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED, with Phil Hester and Jonathan Lau adapting Smith's screenplay into a perfectly serviceable Michael Bay-style action thriller. Fans of the seventies TV show will find a lot of familiar bits here, as Smith hits all of the expected bases: Test Pilot Steve Austin is nearly killed in a plane crash, and is rebuilt using Bionics. (He's still a "Six Million Dollar Man", except now it's six million PER DAY....) He's drafted into Government service, and soon runs afoul of his deranged predecessor, Avery Hull, who has concocted a plan to use bionically-enhanced corpses to conquer the world.

Thumbs up to Dynamite for collecting Smith's entire ten-issue run in one volume, rather than going for the cash-grab (Which they did with GREEN HORNET...) and splitting it into two volumes. This is a massive book, and includes all ten issues, all of the covers and variants, and a good-sized Alex Ross sketchbook in the back. That said, the story didn't do much for me. I was a little taken aback by seeing all of the gratuitous cursing and extreme violence that Smith included. I would have expected a more PG-13 type of book, considering how THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN used to be a very kid-friendly show. It seemed very out of place. Smith's story is almost slavishly by-the-book, hitting all of the beats of the TV show, and including a ton of winking in-jokes. I had a real problem with Jonathan Lau's artwork.....he is NOT a very good storyteller, and there were quite a few times that I found myself staring at the art unsure about what was going on. His figures and faces all have a sameness to them that makes it difficult to tell characters apart at times. Kevin Smith's BIONIC MAN wasn't a terrible book, but it veered closer to terrible than it did to readable. Mediocre stuff, at best. A talented Director could have made a good film out of this....on the page, it just kind of lies there, a book barely alive, wishing it could be rebuilt into something better, stronger, faster.....