Review: Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #3

Well, things have certainly gotten wackier. There's a panel here where Steve Austin gets attacked by a machine gun-toting scientist astride a humanoid cephalopod crustacean. Said scientist fires wildly while screaming "Death to America." Following in the vein of issue two, events are escalating to an insane degree. Not in a way that feels controlled or thoughtful, mind you. There's just a lot of noise that you keep waiting to have focused into something like a coherent signal. That focus doesn't arrive until the final, disappointing moments of the issue. The story is holding still for the sake of an action-y installment in a story that hasn't really earned such a reprieve. You have no reason to care about anyone other than the poor civilians caught in the middle of this ridiculous scuffle. Even they wear away at my patience, though. I just don't get the Hasselhoff gag. Nor do I want to. 6mdmfom03-cov-a-salasIssue three is driven by a gimmick. Most of its panels are spread across multiple pages, lengthening scenes horizontally, like a train. Action travels along in this way, with characters appearing in different poses to convey motion. It is an experiment with exciting potential. However, there's too much clutter in the art. Comic illustrators sometimes communicate consecutive flashes of action by drawings a character in key frames. Each pose is a moment in frozen time. Done well, there's logic and fluidity to this technique. Done poorly, you get what looks to be a page full of confused clones. Fall of Man sadly uses this method of storytelling to the point of annoyance. It's like an action movie overindulging in slow motion and quick cuts. There's no reason for it, and the book suffers for it. Issue three of Fall of Man is all about the art. And the art is fine, but never more than fine. There's plenty going on, but the art makes it frustrating to keep up. At other times the art is just goofy. A lot of the action poses are particularly silly, like the way rival cyborg Hiller casually hops atop the cars of a speeding train. He's so dainty about it. It's adorable. I don't think that's what Ron Salas intended.

You're not especially well rewarded for paying attention even if you're able to do so. The story barely budges in this issue. I'm still not clear on why Steve Austin wants so desperately to prevent the creation of a cyborg army. Nor am I sure who I'm supposed to be siding with here. Hiller is a creep, for sure. And the OSI has made little effort to explain themselves to Steve. But Steve is like a toddler in a tantrum, tearing his way across the world with little purpose or reason. Don't expect any revelations or twists. Don't look for anything startlingly clever in this spy thriller. Van Jensen is wrestling with this push and pull between weird espionage and mindless action. Three issues deep, and I think it's clear which is getting pushed and which has all the pull.

Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man works best if you relax and let the action wash over you. Though, really, that's like asking you to turn off your brain. Thinking should not hurt your enjoyment of a thing. And, in this case, thinking is the enemy.

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Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #3 Writer: Van Jensen Artist: Ron Salas Colorist: Michael Atiyeh and Caitlin McCarthy Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-series; Print/Digital