Today is Lee Majors 75th birthday, but you wouldn’t know it, in seeing the return of Steve Austin, in James Kuhoric and Juan Antonio Ramírez‘s The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six, Issue 2, from Dynamite Comics. It’s 1979, and ol’-Lee’s Steve looks, as young and fit, and-handsome, as-ever, he was, in this runaway reboot of that classic TV series. So, let’s get to it, shall we, gentlemen, (and, ‘babes,’ as there’s a shoutout to our ‘Bionic Beauty,’ Jaime Sommers, in this issue, also).
*Oscar Goldman’s voice* – Last time, on The Six Million Dollar Man: A NASA probe, intended to spy on the Russian Venus landing, is intercepted by an unexplained phenomena and is thought lost. A returning, and – spiteful Oliver Spencer calls a dept. heads meeting in Washington DC, where he announces the end of OSI’s Bionics Research and ‘unmasks’ his purported replacement: M.A.S.K.A.T.R.O.N. Meanwhile, Steve Austin and Dr. Rudy Wells have been sent to rendezvous with an old associate, Dr. Joan Anderson, to recapture the Venus Probe; which – has mysteriously returned to Earth, sans communication, off the coast of Florida. During the salvaging/retrieval operation, Steve is injured by a shark during a rescue operation and needs emergency care from Rudy, to repair a ruptured atomic power pack in his bionic arm…
And, now… Dunh Da Dunh Da Dunh Da Dunh Da Dunh Dunh….
The scene opens on Dr. Anderson’s team, as they examine the radiation-emitting space probe at Kennedy Space Station. One of the scientists brings a foreign substance to Anderson’s attention and she bags a sample, as she puts the satellite under quarantine. (Make note: she’s wearing an environmental suit and heavy-duty gloves, here.)
In Washington, at the Pentagon, Mr. Spencer is in a meeting with the top-brass, discussing-one: Barney Miller (wasn’t he a cop..?), er…Hiller (sorry, that was a typo, there); Spencer is railing about the cost of bionics tech (did Spencer just suggest that Jaime cost $8 million?); also – recapping the general, scientists and suits, about Hiller’s bionics replacements, his failures, and – his crimes. He proposes that Hiller is a security risk and needs to be ‘contained’: enter MASKATRON. (Yes, as promised, James Kuhoric has kept the iconic name of our childhood foe; although, he sure had me worried, in Issue 1, when he referred to him as Number One.)
Hiller (in what appears to be the same clothes he was wearing in his debut episode), in-character, is in-cahoots with a couple of thugs, assuring them that the race car he’s building is the fastest thing on the track. The goons pull guns on our powered-down seven million dollar bionic man, making things tense. It’s about to get hairy, as MASKATRON (God, I love that name; it really takes me back to my youth, ya know) is outside of the garage, using his own technology to see the happenings inside. DIRECTIVE: BUST-IN, KICK ASS… Using some cool Maskatron gadgetry in his robotic hand, he’s in like Flint, or – wait…
O.S.I. Bionics Lab: Dr. Wells is just finishing Steve Austin’s atomic power pack replacement (and, is that an homage to the roll-up skin my Steve Austin action-figure had? Cool!) Now, I’m going to gripe, here: while-a shirtless Steve is ripped in this scene, his chest is as (sorry) “smooth-as-an-android’s-bottom…” Uhm – guys, you gotta fix this. Really. You have the technology, so-to-speak…
So, Oscar comes by and lays-down the bad news about the Bionics Division being sent to the scrap pile. He gives us a little backstory on the Korean War heroics of Mr. Spencer and how he rose up in the O.S.O. James refreshes our memories on Spencer’s intent to keep Steve ‘unplugged’ between missions, too, (however, I didn’t get the Benji counting sheep line, from Steve, here. Maybe, I missed that particular movie).
Back at Kennedy, Dr. Joan Anderson is doing analysis on the alien sample she recovered from the probe’s hull (and – Yowzah!); gone is the EV suit and gloves (which makes no sense, to me; we’re left to believe this brilliant scientist would be so careless, as to handle this material unprotected?) Of course, the sample looks larger, now, and – it appears to attack her, piercing her delicate UNPROTECTED skin. She has a visit by one of her team, that reports that the material is growing and there’s some unidentified electrical issues cropping-up in the lab. Anderson realizes that they’re making some extraordinary discoveries and tells him to contact Rudy Wells. Then, she doubles-over, feeling sick; there’s a nasty looking infection in her wound. (She’s just called for Dr. Wells, yet – she thinks it’s better to just go home and lay down; especially, after having just-been ‘bitten’ by something not of this world..?)
Back to Hiller’s garage, where we see MASKATRON cutting-through the garage-door and busting it down. Hiller thinks, of course, that it’s Steve Austin, as the robot takes-out the goons with ease. (I thought the cigarette pack flying through the air, was a nice touch). But, MASKSTRON gets shot by an errant bullet and his programming goes on the fritz. His mask missing, now, the Dolenz-modeled robot begins to reboot itself; (now, this, is more in-tune with the likeness we remember, as kids. Much, much better). Hiller gets ready to take-on this strange creation, wearing a smug, bring-it-on smile and holding a water pipe he ripped off the wall. They attack, as the scene closes.
Oscar, meanwhile, has sent Steve Austin to Russia on a mission to take-out their newest bionics technological breakthrough. And, Rudy is en-route to talk to Jaime. (Now – we get to see some cool bionics, here. Of particular note, the better referencing of Steve’s bionic eye, while in-use). As Oscar narrates the mission objectives, Steve is seen skydiving, James Bond-like, to his drop point, running to his destination and scoping-out his target: a one man armored tank suit called B-YAGA. It’s a deniable mission… (Does anyone smell something fishy, here? And, is Jaime going to seeing trouble soon, too..?)
Dr. Anderson’s in a bad way; her hand and arm is turning black, there are black (Borglike) tendrils spreading through her face and she’s clearly in distress; she calls out Steve’s name into a telephone that has crashed-down on the floor beside her…
“He said it was a ‘major award’…” (This made my day, and – if you didn’t get it, well…you’re outta-luck, ’cause, I’m not going to give it to ya. James, Thank you. LOL! It’s brilliant!) F-f-fudge… If Spencer was able to stream profanity, here, he’d be workin’ it like a master, ’cause, he is NOT a happy-camper, when he bursts into the lab. Anyway – we find out MASKATRON has a backup protocol and he shifts to automated functioning whenever he’s damaged. The ‘Santa’ scientist (whom, I’m glad to see, doesn’t have that crazy tuft of hair on his forehead, anymore), begins tapping into the automaton’s programming, and he’s horrified when he discovers what MASKATRON has done… We see a fantastic picture of him in a hoodie, no mask, circuitry exposed, with a large bag slung over his shoulders, as he heads to the O.S.I Robotics Lab, in the dead-of-night: OBJECTIVE: COMPLETE MISSION.
Back in the U.S.S.R., Steve is using some badass bionics: running, jumping fences, using the eye and arm, as he makes his way into the secret facility housing the new prototype he’s got to sabotage. His mind is distracted, though; thinking of dear sweet Jaime, and the end of the bionics program. He’s taken by surprise, and into custody by the Russians. He’s told that he’s been set-up by his own government, and – that he’s going to be YAGA’s final test….
Wow! What a great story this is turning into. YAGA looks to be one mean mo-fo, too, as we’re left waiting for next-month’s installment. There was a great deal of improvement in this issue and I only see this series getting better, and-better. I voiced my gripes in my comments, throughout, but – as, I close this, I’m grinning from ear-to-ear. Well-done, gentleman. This is the Six Million Dollar Man we’ve been waiting 35 yrs. to see.
Happy Birthday, Lee Majors, and – Thank you, for giving us such a powerhouse, in your portrayal of Steve Austin.
See ya ‘out there’…
Lt. Eric Cone