The Middleman

By | Tuesday, April 10, 2007 Leave a Comment
Still trying to catch up on all the reading goodies I've gotten lately. Today I'm blogging about volume two of The Middleman from Viper Comics.

Since this is a second volume, that generally implies a first. And going into this, I felt I might be at a disadvantage. I've run into series before where there's a presumption of knowing what happened in volume one, AND the creators taking shortcuts in volume two because of it. That wasn't the case here. I didn't even bother to read the summary on the inside cover of #1, and it was still a solidly constructed story, telling me -- as a new reader -- everything that I needed to know about the characters and their world. I have no idea how many of the characters were wholly new to the series and how many were returning to it, but that was irrelevant -- I got enough backstory to know how they all fit together.

The dialogue was also fairly sharp. It flowed very naturally, and each character was given their own voice. Even the clearly-stitled-for-humorous-effect dialogue of Sensei Ping fits in surprisingly well. Kudos all around to writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach. (Doing a bit of research for the blog here, I just discovered he's actually a fairly prolific writer for television, having worked on Lost, Medium, Charmed, and several other well-received shows.)

The art was also stylish and slick. The illustrations were consistent throughout the series, and the storytelling was generally solid. There were couple of minor bits that didn't work terribly well, but they only stand out because everything else worked so smoothly. Good use of the double-page splash towards the end, I might add. (And, if you pick up the series, be sure to study that spread for a couple of interesting cameos!)

So far, though, I've been rather vague on the story itself. That's very deliberate, because... well, this is an odd duck to try to explain. There's this spy agency, right? The Middleman is kind of a cross between James Bond and Brock Samson. Wendy's his trainee, and they work for... well, they don't actually know who they work for. But their next job is to protect/escort Sensei Ping. But he gets captured by some Mexican wrestlers, and things kind of spiral out of control.

"Wait! Sean, did you say Mexican wrestlers?"

Yeah. It actually makes a weird kind of sense in the story, but you really have to read it. It kind of reminds me of the best Muppet Show sketches: things are going along fine at first, but they slowly devolve into chaos with Kermit eventually giving up and submitting to the inevitable entropy. Actually, the more I think about it, the more the comparison works. It's got a lot of the same type of humor you remember from The Muppet Show; it's just couched in a secret agent motif instead of a variety show. And they are Mexican wrestlers instead of chickens. But Fozzie's there and is just as confused and clueless in both! Worth a look-see.

(Heh. I'll bet Javier never figured The Middleman would be positively compared to The Muppet Show.)
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