Review: Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #1

Colonel Steve Austin is caught in a paranoid descent into espionage and betrayal. Was Steve the first bionic agent? How many died before the OSI succeeded with him? And how many more cyborgs are out there? Do you care? Fall of Man #1 begins the Bionic Man's path toward answering those questions. And it isn't a great start. Worse than questions regarding loyalty or identity, he's being helped/haunted by a mysterious voice with approximately one personality trait: it curses far too much. I don't mean to say profanity offends my delicate sensibilities. No, it just curses like an eight-year-old that just discovered swearing. I can't chalk it up to a narratively justified character trait -- not in this issue, at least. Instead it feels more like the writer knew they needed to infuse the voice with some kind of quirk. It is annoying.

6MDMFoM01-Cov-A-SalasEvents escalate out of control a little too quickly. And by the halfway point Austin is on the run, looking for answers. Um… couldn't he just... ask? I guess the voice in his head is meant to justify Austin's reticence toward trusting his own people. He doesn’t wish to appear ill, obviously. I’ve no doubt he would get stonewalled if he did express his concerns about the cyborg project. But where's the scene where he at least tries to get answers via simply talking to his comrades and cohorts?

But then a ninja assault happens and you're too distracted to remember why the story feels really weak. Then the ninja warriors start talking and you're reminded this isn‘t a very good book. These particular assaulting Yakuza ninja warriors squint and spout broken English about honor. The book's Seventies style sexism and ethnic stereotyping could be entertaining if done more skillfully and humorously. Neither is played for laughs here. Or, at least, they aren't absurd enough to be funny. It isn't over-the-top enough to be genuinely laughable or mean-spirited enough to be hateful. It just feels a little limp and a lot of pointless. The book wants to lean on antiquated tropes but also tries to adopt more modern touches. For example, the violence is far beyond what one would expect from Seventies American television. And Austin's swearing invisible friend is directly anachronistic, being written like a contemporary Twentieth Century child. It makes for an uneven, uncomfortable mix.

I half expected the story to bend toward introspection, perhaps developing Austin's relationship to his still-changing body. Nope. Office break-in, then a ninja fight. And, hey, I like a good ninja fight. But, this isn't especially interesting nor is it really helpful to the narrative. Colonel Austin is just conveyed along through the plot, making stops where the writer needs him to be. He isn't a particularly empathetic lead, regardless of his proactive attitude. And it isn't exciting to watch him use his powers because the art is a little too stiff. So... where's the part where I care?

There's potential here for a more entertaining work, but what we're given is just potential without payout. The next few issues of the mini can easily swing toward excellence. Right now, it's just shy of mediocre.

[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #1
Writer: Van Jensen
Artist: Ron Salas
Colorist: Mike Atiyeh
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Price: $3.99
Format:  Mini-Series; Print/Digital