MUDMAN #6 - Image Comics
Writer & Artist: Paul Grist
Art: Ron Adrian
Colors: Bill Crabtree
Publisher: Image Comics
It’s been a while since the debut of Paul Grist’s (Jack Staff, Kane) hilarious take on the trope-filled teenage superhero tale Mudman from Image Comics. Grist cites a family illness for the delay in this issue, and it most certainly was worth the wait for issue 6. I’ve transitioned to reading the title digitally now.
Owen Craig has mud powers, which is exactly what it sounds like. His body turns into mud, he can throw mudballs, he can create an Iceman-like mudslide to save a damsel from an oncoming bus. Fans of Spider-Man, Superboy and Invincible should get a kick out of this story set near Grist’s current home in the fictional Burnbridge On Sea, where tide and weather create a silty mess year round. Issue 6 came out yesterday, continuing to be a fun book very aware of it’s influences and slick British humor and delightfully clean illustrations. Grist’s panel layouts, thick slabs of muddy ink and expressive acting make Mudman a top of the stack book with intriguing new character development and a break from the recent Big 2 reinventions of New 52 or Marvel NOW! Starting with a dude that’s cooler than Peter Parker and less neurotic than Mark Grayson, Owen Craig is stepping on familiar slick territory after his accident gives him Mud powers, and bullets from bad guys fly right through him.
The story opens with issue 4’s mysterious goth Captain Gull acting as Owen’s mentor. Owen accepts Gull’s help and sacrifices studying for his big school test and precious sleep to push his limits and learn to control his power. Where do these mentors come from, anyway? I could have used someone randomly handing me a phone number and with a secret meeting location when I was a young super hero on the come up. Think of all of the mistakes I’ve made since then. Now, I merely am reporting on these guys.
Many Marvel, Spidey and Daredevil quips pepper the story along the way and add to the fun. Grist has a handle on referencing comic culture in a way that’s not insulting to fans. Issue 6 has an Uncle Ben facing the robber moment turned on it’s head with his best pal Newt, a graffiti artist, throwing up a piece in the local bus shelter. While painting, two criminals tussle over a briefcase. Naturally, Mudman arrives late to the scene after neglecting his training duties. Newt and the briefcase are long gone and a discouraged Owen, unaware of the conflict. He makes it home to barely make it to class and the test he’s barely prepared for.
Mudman and Owen, separately are tested in this issue and the greater defining aspects of Mudman as hero and teenager are yet to be revealed. As is always the case early in a hero’s career, he is reluctant. I’m confident Paul Grist has more in mind here to round out the rug-ruining hero over the next arc. More regular scheduled issues are promised for 2013, and I look forward to taking a break from the familiar capes and cowls to take a visit to a seaside town in the UK to get my slickers covered in mud this year.
[Get MUDMAN #6 from TFAW here.]