Artists: Juan Antonio Ramirez and David T. Cabrera
Dynamite Entertainment, out now
The further adventures of Steve Austin, a man barely alive…
It’s not just Steve, Oscar Goldman and Rudy Wells who turn up in this collection of the six-issue series from Dynamite; there are shout-outs to many other characters from the run of The Six Million Dollar Man, and its offshoot The Bionic Woman – although, to my very slight disappointment, Max, the Bionic Dog, only gets mentioned rather than bounding in to save the day.
In fact, there’s almost too much of the past of the show here for those who aren’t dyed in the wool bionics fans – we’re expected to remember key plot points from episodes across the series, and the comic book only really flies when it’s let loose from those constraints. Unless you’ve seen the pilot recently, you may not recall who the original boss of the OSO was (and unfortunately the art doesn’t really do Darren McGavin justice, even with the nod to Kolchak given), or the ins and outs of Steve’s relationship with Barney Hiller, the Seven Million Dollar Man. These are all combined in complicated plotlines that set up various threads which are unresolved within this book (and possibly may never be), and while the idea of using a toy tie-in from the 1970s as a villain is a cute one, it doesn’t quite hang together as well as it should.
Some of the dialogue, particularly between Oscar and his “pal” Steve, really rings true, but the artwork isn’t as strong, with only Richard Anderson really recognisable throughout. It’s perhaps not helped by comparison with the stunning Alex Ross covers that accompanied the series, which recreate scenes from the TV show with the forensic attention to detail I’ve come to expect from Ross.
Dynamite have tried to walk the fine line between servicing the fans (who are likely to buy the book anyway) and grabbing new readers whose memories of the original series are hazy, or who have read their Bionic Man reboot series. Unfortunately, on this occasion, they’ve strayed too far into fan territory – but if you are a serious bionics fan, you’ll get a great deal of pleasure from this.
Verdict: More for the fans than the general audience, this is a fun but ultimately unmemorable excursion back to the 1970s. 6/10