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Comics You Should Be Reading: Resurrection Man

Comics You Should Be Reading: Resurrection Man

By Eric Garneau

We've talked before about the original Resurrection Man comic book series, a story from the '90s about a guy named Mitch Shelley who won't stay dead—in fact, every time he's killed he comes back to life with a different superpower. We don’t want to make the new Res. Man series felt left out, though, so let us tell you why this current DC publication a Comic You Should Be Reading.

Here's what's coolest about Resurrection Man: even though it definitely has the makings of a pretty straightforward superhero story in a lot of ways, there is a really interesting mystery at the center of this series. Why so interesting? Because our main character, the above-mentioned Mitch Shelley, has no idea who he is. One day he wakes up with a super power and a missing memory, and he feels compelled to do... things. Usually good, heroic things. He's just not sure why.

That means that every issue of Resurrection Man we read asks us to follow two different plot threads. First, obviously, is whatever threat demands immediate attention (like Mitch saving himself from bounty hunters, or helping the police bring down a drug ring), but second, every issue's full of clues as to the true identity of our hero. We learn a little bit more each month, whether it's some biographical data (who his dad is, maybe, or his line of work), or some clue to his powers. (Could it be that every time he comes back to life there's a specific reason for whatever new power he has?)

Seven issues into the current Resurrection Man, here's what we do know (thanks to a handy dream sequence in issue #5): Mitch Shelley used to work for a private military technology company that was creating a way to regrow human tissue instantaneously —basically, to make it so people could never be injured on the battlefield. Some competitors found out about this research and destroyed Shelley's lab. They also injected him with a sizable dose of his own regenerative serum which, probably, is the reason Shelley can't die. Unfortunately, Mitch doesn't remember any of this for sure, and that still doesn't tell us why our boy has no memories, or why all of a sudden he's acting like a superhero.

Because of his connection to powerful people, Shelley's very much in demand, and lots of people are on his tail. Besides ex-employers, he's got to deal with law enforcement (since he broke out of Arkham Asylum in issue #6 after being deemed insane) and, most interestingly, agents of both Heaven and Hell, who are upset that they'll never be able to possess Shelley's soul since he's never going to pass on to the afterlife.

So that's the basic form Resurrection Man takes. Shelley wanders into a new city with no idea why, finds somebody he needs to help, and helps them with a new superpower while being pursued by like three different groups of people. If it sounds like that formula might get tired, well, it hasn't yet, probably because there's so much variety built in to the basic concept. We previously argued that the original Resurrection Man series would have made a fine TV show; this current adaptation (written by the original authors—Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning—and drawn by the fantastic Fernando Dagnino) would also do great on the small screen.

As we mentioned, Resurrection Man just released its seventh issue, which means that if you feel like getting into it, you don't have too much catching up to do. You can also check out the first issue (where Shelley has to defend an airplane against a demon who wants his soul) at digital retailer Comixology for $1.99, or wait for a few months and grab the first trade paperback collection (which contains the first 7-8 issues). If you're into superhero stories with a weird twist and like your main characters to come with a little mystery, Resurrection Man is a book you'll enjoy.

If you woke up as Resurrection Man, which super power would you hope to have?

Tags: comics, books-and-comics, comics you should be reading, resurrection man

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