When tackling an existing property, creators throughout all mediums often find themselves in an unenviable position. They are forced to walk the line of fan expectation to honor the source material, yet their final product must also be fresh and original. This is never an easy feat, as many Hollywood scribes will tell you, but in Dynamite Entertainment’s The Bionic Man, Kevin Smith, Phil Hester, and Jonathan Lau manage to not only meet expectation, but exceed it as well.
The Bionic Man #2 opens strong, with Steve Austin in trouble after a catastrophic accident while testing a new fighter jet for the government. With Steve’s life on the line, we get to know a little more about the villain Hull by meeting the people who gave him his bionic attributes. Hull was meant for more than his murderous ways, but as we learn by issue’s end, he is not open to discussion about his path. He is a focused man with a strong agenda, and nothing will deter his will.
Smith has an obvious gift for crafting a compelling story, evidenced by not only his film work, but also by his tremendous work in comics. Combined with Hester’s knack for intrigue and detail, no moment is ever wasted. This issue is largely exposition, but in Smith and Hester’s hands, momentum is never lost. For example, one of the strongest scenes in the series so far takes place in a board room. No punches are thrown, no gadgets are wielded, but the drama is just as high during a bureaucratic back and forth as it is in the climax of issue one.
Even with Smith and Hester steering the ship, the book owes much of its exciting tone to Lau’s artwork. Lau’s knack for detailed, expressive faces adds tremendous depth to each individual character. His work on Hull’s features alone would be enough to sell me on this book, not to mention his crisp handling of the action sequences. This story was originally conceived for film, and Lau’s artwork proves just how cinematic comic books can be.
I was not around for the characters’ creation, but seeing them handled with such adoration makes me not only excited for the rest of this series, but anxious to seek out the original material that inspired the creator’s affections. The Bionic Man is ushering the world of Steve Austin and company into the 21st century, and you need to be along for the ride.