Friday, February 01, 2013

Mud Man Vol 1

Simplicity.  That's what I think when I see Paul Grist's work.  This latest book from him is exemplar, right from the lack of subtitle to this collection of the first 5 issues of the book.

Mudman Volume 1Then there's the line work.  Evocative but far from heavy on detail, well removed from, say, George Perez.  The backgrounds and the main characters are clear but not heavy on lines.  Concurrently, those lines that are there are fairly heavy.  Not Frank Miller, but heavy.  I enjoy that it's an ease to follow for someone like me who reads the words first and checks the pictures second, with a primary eye to move on the next batch of words rather than spending a lot of time trying to parse out what's in the pictures.  It's the kind of story movement I like to see in comics art.

And the story is well and truly off to a strong start.  I don't know where Grist is going in the long run but in five issues he's set up a lot of depth.  There's the obvious Spider-man similarity in our 15 year old hero, Owen Craig, who suddenly comes into a super power with little inkling of how to use it effectively and for what purpose beyond the generic wanting to be a superhero.  He's also subject to harrassment from a bully at school, much like Peter Parker's early relationship with Flash Thompson.  Of course, Grist makes direct reference to that in the dialog between Owen and his best friend, Jack Newton, both of whom are comics fans and know the outlines of what's happening to Owen.

There's much more with the mysterious cast of foes or possible foes.  From the mysterious house, complete with attic Batcave, to phantasmic "adviser" who may by a mass killer, Mud Man has a lot set for a long run of stories.

Nonetheless, Grist doesn't leave anything in limbo.  These future elements are just elements.  The individual stories of how he wakes up with his powers, which seem to be largely that his body is now mud in human form which can't be killed by bullets or amputations, and a resucue of his police detective father from humorous though lethal robbers on the lam, are just the start.  A mystery figure who knows a lot more about him and his powers offers to train him but is clearly cavalier, at a minimum, about the deaths of bystanders, and manipulates an old man with hydro-control powers who was likely a supervillain a long time ago.  Of course, Owen ends up calling the mystery man for help after being manipulated into a realization that he has a lot to learn.

On the plus side for Owen, he does meet a new girl at his school who he's been mooning over, and his bully becomes an ally after he saves the bully's life.  As well, his friend Jack is an enthusiastic sidekick of sorts, albeit without powers beyond using spray paint to blind a malicious flying ball.

I'm looking forward to the next volume when it's collected.  In the meantime I'll have to get me some additional volumes of Jack Staff and try out Grist's Kane books.

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