On Kevin Smith and The Bionic Man

The fifth issue of The Bionic Man was released this month by Dynamite Entertainment. The new adaptation is written and scripted by none other than iconic filmmaker Kevin Smith.

As expected, the line is based on the camp classic bionic man television show.

The basic premise? Steve Austin has been so badly injured that there is very little left for him to live for. An experimental bionics treatment replaces almost all of his body with machine parts, making him “Better. Faster. Stronger.”

In this version, Austin in a successful and brave test-pilot who crashes in an experimental aircraft, losing three limbs and an eye along with his will to continue on.

His good friend happens to be in charge of recruiting for the Bionic Man project, and so Steve is a clear choice. His powers include supernatural speed, strength, and vision – along with the ability to change the appearance of his face at will. Combined with his natural bravery and confidence, he’s the perfect spy.

The first four issues were spent depicting the origin story. True, they seemed a bit slow, but did serve well for character development, even if it did seem a bit of a stretch waiting four months for Austin to actually become the bionic man.

A lot of time was spent exploring Austin’s perceived loss of manhood and humanity, along with his depression after the crash. This gives us a good sense of the character, and how fragile his psyche may be, despite his nearly invincible outer shell after the operation. It’s clear that the hero’s weaknesses throughout the series will primarily be emotional.

We also learn about Hull, the previous Bionic Man experiment, who has gone rogue (and psychopath). This will be Austin’s first great villain, possibly a series-long conflict.

This fifth issue covers the beginning of Austin’s first mission for the enigmatic government agency OSI. He’s sent to gather intel on a target associated with Hull, only he hasn’t been told yet about Hull or the previous experiments.

When Hull shows up on the scene to kill Austin’s subject, he’s forced to step in, and get his introduction to his nemesis, which after feeling like a superman since the operation is a rude wake-up call for the hero.

Smith’s writing here is expert. Despite a bit of impatience-inducing continuances, the pacing is spot on, and the dialogue is sparklingly pithy. The major players in the story are clearly unique with each their own motivations, and each some nice grey areas which can be exploited for moral drama. The artwork from Jonathan Lau is on the level with the writing, making for an experience in quality storytelling.

The story is starting to pick up, and so now is a good time to get in on this excellent series. The Bionic Man can be picked up wherever you get your comics, including the Comixology store.