If you write this book off based on the title then you are missing out one of the best superhero comics of the year. Mud Man is created,written and drawn by Paul Grist, who on the first page expresses his love of comics as a monthly periodical. Not sequential storytelling, not a trade paperback, but the monthly comics that a vast majority of comic readers grew up enjoying. He declares that Mud Man is a return to that art form and that he is in fact not “writing for the trade” as so many people in the industry do, but writing for the story. If this opening letter doesn’t convince you that this creator is setting out to do something different in modern comics by returning to its roots, then the first issue will.
The story begins with two teens running around their seaside town in the south west of England spray painting the everything in sight. It is after all the last day of summer break. Their names are Jack Newton and Owen Craig. While tagging up an abandoned house Owen stumbles upon what he can only describe as the “Bat Cave.”Unfortunately, he’s not the only one there and is soon chased off. The next morning he awakens unsure of what happened the night before during his escape. As he gets ready for school he makes a startling discovery when his hands turn to mud. At school Jack prevents Owen from being bullied, but that doesn’t stop Owen from getting hit by a car. Fortunately he's completely fine, but the driver of the car thinks that he threw mud on his windshield which perplexes Owen even further.
There is something familiar about Mud Man, if has a dash of Invincible and maybe just a hint of Major Bummer. Perhaps that’s the beauty of the book is that it’s so deep with familiarity that you can pull your own influences out of it and still be right. That being said, Grist has something special here. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a superhero book and actually wanted to read the next issue due to it actually being good. What’s more exciting is that I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I know that’s usually the case with comics, but when you know that a book is going to have some sort of resolution in six issues you tend to be less impressed by it.
The art is very stylized with thick lines and large hands that wouldn’t quite work if it didn’t match the art style the way it does. What’s really enjoyable about the art is that instead of filling pages with black to cover lack of detail or to fill in the page, Grist’s and his colorist Bill Crabtree use a crisp white to fill the “dead space” of each page. It gives the book a classic look, but keeps the modern style for everything else. The art is very good and I only hope that Grist is able to keep up with monthly writing and art duties because both play a key part in what makes Mud Man special.
I don’t say this often, but if you’re going to buy one comic this week it should be Mud Man. This book is not to be missed and if you don’t grab this first issue I guarantee you’ll be kicking yourself when everyone is talking about it six months down the road and other news publications are shouting that they knew about it first. This is your chance,right here, don’t miss this book. It’s one of my favorite things as a reviewer to finish a book and know exactly what score to give a book which was the case with Mud Man because it was that damn good.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Paul Grist Publisher: Image Comics