I’ve been on a Six Million Dollar Man kick, ever-since, my good ‘pal’ Tom Hopkins, gifted me THE BIONIC MAN: SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED, for Christmas. As I’ve said before, this series went downhill rather quickly after Kevin Smith’s very-awesome, aforementioned 10-issue relaunch. (Don’t even get me started on the Sasquatch storyline…) However, there were a couple of gems mixed-in throughout this 26-issue series. One of those is TRANSIT OF VENUS and I’m going to review that issue, today.
Published by: Dynamite Comics
Written by: Scott Beatty
Penciled by: Dietrich Smith
Colored by: Alex Guimaraes
Lettered by: Marshall Dillon
Cover by: Mike Mayhew
Special Thanks went to Kim Niemi, Ed Prince and Christopher Lucero
Based on NBCUniversal’s The Six Million Dollar Man
OVERVIEW: TRANSIT OF VENUS is a one-shot special, which sees the return of an updated Venus Death Probe; (which garnered two two-part episodes in the classic TV series). Built by the Chinese Space Program (not the Russians, this go-round), the probe lands somewhere in the Arctic Circle (yeah…that’s a long ways off from its intended destination: Venus), and – because of its unique sophistication and prototype technology, there’s only one man who can stop it: enter Steve Austin. But, what he finds, is more than even he bargained for.
THE STORY: Scott Beatty knows how to write Steve Austin and Oscar Goldman, and he’s given us a really good, solid issue. The story is reminiscent of the TV show, but Scott brings it into the 21st century with a fresh, imaginative storyline (and a very cold setting), yet – he’s added a new twist to it, as well. I liked the way Scott got things moving right away and how he kept my attention throughout. Really-cool, to me, is how Scott writes in some clarification on Steve’s bionics and how the cold affects them. Letterer Marshall Dillon (what a great name, eh..?) does a good job of setting-up the dialogue and moving it smoothly from panel to panel; as well as using vibrantly-colored letters to denote locations, sound-effects, bionic action and communication transmissions.
The thing I like about THE BIONIC MAN comic book series, is Steve Austin’s cocky, badass, ‘you built me, now – live with it’ attitude (it reminds me of TSMDM‘s season one), and Scott lays it on thick, here, while using a lot of the short, snarky quips and sarcasm that Steve Austin is famous for. He’s not your daddy’s bionic man; yet – he’s everything we’ve ever known him to be, too. Scott gets it. In this issue, Steve is pitted against a new antagonist (or – is he?), and the ending left me thinking of ROCKY IV. Can you say, Ivan Drago? (Only – he’s a Chinese version, here).
THE ART: Great job! Dietrich and Alex hit all the right marks in this issue. The episode opens in space, showing the Venus probe breaking-away from its rocket transport and landing in the snow-covered mountains, the exact location is CLASSIFIED. As the story moves on, we get a great look at NORAD and some awesome interior shots, where a briefing is being held, getting this mission rolling. The updated Venus probe is totally cool and equipped with all sorts of technological badassery. There’s plenty of details, ranging from interiors to exteriors; of aircraft, maps, schematics, terrain, even some underwater scenes. And – of course, BIONICS; from Col. Steve Austin, the Venus Death Probe and from the new guy, as well. I loved the use of Steve Austin’s flight suit, which looked like it was paying homage to the 70’s Kenner toy line outfit, (sold separately, it was used to suit-up the awesome, and, now – iconic, Steve Austin action figure, for his space missions). But, overall – I’m impressed with this issue; as the art and coloring is terrific all the way through. As I said, there were some keepers in this series; this is one of them.
THE COVER: It’s an okay cover. It shows Steve Austin rising up out of a fiery conflagration, defiant and ready to kick ass, despite the cuts and damage to his flesh and bionics. Mike Mayhew has used this series’s version of Steve’s famous red running-suit (black, with red lines and seams). We see Steve’s left bionic eye is lit from within (in this rebooted series, both of Steve’s eyes were upgraded), he’s got a gash on his ruggedly-handsome face. He’s showering sparks out of his right arm, with wires and circuitry hanging out of the exposed and torn synthetic skin on his left (again, in this series, Steve gets two bionic arms), his legs are damaged, as well. Yes, the bionic man has been beaten and battered, but – Steve Austin’s teflon heart, is in it to win it. That said, it doesn’t seem to jibe with the story and action we’re going to see inside. I judge covers by this scale: Would I display it on my wall? In this case, I’d have to say no. It’s good art, but – it just didn’t blow me away…
OVERALL: Steve rocks this story and he’s as heroic as we expect him to be, the Venus probe is terrific, and packs some considerable punch, the story is cool and believable in this modern-day world, and Scott Beatty gives this adventure some pep with Steve’s new foe. I loved the humor and the action, and I especially enjoyed this issue in its digital form. (I’ve provided the link, for you, above.) Get it, and – enjoy! Had all of the issues in this reboot had been this good, this series would never have been canceled. As it was, this annual desperately tried to rebuild a series that was barely alive; but ultimately, it was a ridiculous little pony that finally pulled the plug and put this series out of its misery…in my opinion.
On a side-note, if you’re a fan of those Kenner action figures, and you want to be a kid, again, well – check out David S. Lawson’s The Bionic Toy Action Page on Facebook! There’s always something cool going on!