I don’t usually get into comic adaptations of TV shows, especially where they try to extend a show’s run or try to tie up loose ends. I’ve tried in the past, I just haven’t been particularly happy with the results. Maybe it’s just me but shows like Buffy and Angel, when they tried to tack on extra comic-only seasons, I never really enjoyed them.
Of course, I am a fan of the Six Million Dollar Man, they just put the last of the show out on DVD and I leapt on it and watched all five seasons. Now, Dynamite is putting out a sixth comic-based season and I had to take a look. Therefore, here’s my take on the first 6-issue arc of the Six Million Dollar Man, a story called “It Came From Deep Space”.
A while back, Kevin Smith tried to get the Six Million Dollar Man rebooted and it didn’t work out very well. Here, we have more of a continuation of the 70s TV show than a reboot of the franchise. When a probe to Venus gets intercepted by an alien energy cloud, the probe returns to Earth, infected by alien parasites. Meanwhile, the OSI loses their bionic funding when a fully robotic system is introduced, but it’s unstable and their prototype goes on the rampage. It’s first mission is to reclaim the bionics from Barney Hiller, but instead, it simply rips his arms and legs off, leaving him a paraplegic. Jaime Sommers arrives to help, but Steve’s first encounter with the robotic prototype, dubbed Maskatron, leaves his bionic arm irreparably damaged. With Steve out of commission, how can they combat the growing alien infestation before it takes over the world?
The biggest problem here is the art. It’s not good. Now I might understand if they said they didn’t have the rights to the likenesses of Lee Majors and the rest of the cast, but the characters aren’t even consistent, I had to stop several times and try to figure out who the heck a particular drawing was supposed to be. It isn’t pretty at all.
The second problem, although to a much lesser degree, is they tried to pack too much story here, so much so that they had to cut out plotting to get it all into 6 issues. They had the Venus probe and alien story. They had the OSI budget cutting story. They had the Barney Hiller story. They had the super-robot story. They tried to shoehorn in a little Steve and Jaime romance, honestly they didn’t even have to have Jaime in the story at all because she’s got her own series starting up too. I’d rather have seen a more focused story, either on the Venus probe or the budget problems, but not all of these different stories mashed up together. That’s really kind of a shame because writer James Kuhoric really does have a good understanding of the characters. Steve Austin really does feel like Steve Austin from the TV show. Oscar Goldman really does feel like Oscar Goldman from the TV show. He gets the characters, he understands what makes them tick, then he just throws a whole ton of shit at the wall to see what sticks. Where he should have presented these in an episodic fashion, he instead chose to have several “episodes” running at the same time and it was just too much. I loved that Kuhoric kept referencing the series but it was just too much, too fast, like he was throwing out trivia for the fanboys. I’d like to see good stories that fit into the universe, not just “I watched a bunch of the show, see?”
I see a lot of potential here, they have the characterization down, they’ve got the 70s vibe, they haven’t tried to make it a modern comic, it’s just as if they had put another season of the Six Million Dollar Man on TV. They need to treat it like a TV show though. They need to give it that feel and most certainly, that look. They need a better artist who, if he cannot put the faces of Lee Majors, Richard Anderson and Martin E. Brooks on them, at least make them consistently look like the same characters. I really want to like this book because I adore the source material. I’ll be reviewing the Bionic Woman comic’s first arc too. I want this to be a cool blast from the past. It just isn’t there right now. I’ll just be keeping my fingers crossed that they can push it over that hump.