Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive.
A popular line from the 1973-1978 science fiction television series is brought to life in comic book form in the Six Million Dollar Man #1 published by Dynamite Comics, written by Christopher Hastings, with art by David Hahn, colors by Rashan Kurichiyanil, and letters inserted by Ariana Maher
For the uninitiated, Steve Austin was an astronaut involved in a near-fatal crash. Fortunately for him, the government rebuilt his arm, both legs, and one eye using cybernetics. Steve then takes up a new life as a secret agent. I cannot express how much I loved this show as a kid and as an adult. Aside from the occasional sexism, The Six Million Dollar Man managed to pull off a great action show with a stalwart hero on some pretty decent missions before things got tacky later on. But knowing all of these things, I was hesitant to read it. The cover by David Hahn rocks but would I find in the pages a misogynistic guy retreading 70s clichés, goofy Bigfoot plots, or a good old Cold War spy tale?
Thankfully, Christopher Hastings produced, not only the latter, but a seasoned his story with enough modern sensibilities to make Steve do some sweating. Our story focuses on Japan, and Japanese agent Niko, who throughout the first issue takes no guff from this American upstart sent to help her. We get a Steve Austin fresh from his accident, having newly acquired the cyborg prostheses, and as such, he’s pretty upbeat and a tad overconfident about his abilities. He is impressed with himself. She is not.
Their banter back and forth in this issue was amusing and made the mission they were on complicated. Steve’s zealous behavior creates as many problems as it solves, a great contrast to Niko’s cautious approach and pragmatism. The plot that draws them together is standard fare. A powerful weapon in the hands of a wealthy villain, it’s an oldie but a goodie. However, no one expected an American cyborg on the scene. Steve, also, is ill-prepared for the villain’s reaction to his arrival.
I loved this issue. Hastings took the best elements from the TV show and the spy genre in general and dropped it into a corner of the world the show never really touched on. It was great seeing early Steve Austin and having him interact with a female lead who isn’t there just to be a hapless damsel or a wanton sex object. Niko stands on her own, and her and Steve’s partnership makes for dialogue. This issue has solid pacing.
Hahn delivers panels that look like animation cells as if there really was a Six Million Dollar Man cartoon in the works. Steve looks dashing and the NASA jacket gives him an almost superhero ‘costume’ look. Niko is sleek in black and there is some nice shading with the villain and other foes later on. Everything is just simplistic enough and expertly crafted to make each panel stick out. Also, props to Francesco Francavilla, Michael Walsh, Yasmine Putri and Denis Medri for some stupendous variant covers.
brightens up the colors, so that even blacks seem to pop. It’s a wonderful touch as the TV show, and the 70s all around, were known for its overt use of brown and earth tones. The backgrounds are a refreshing green, blue, and orange that adds a nice touch to what was a seemingly monotone decade. The color red makes a standout performance with villainy in the issue, and it looks crisp.
In regards to Maher’s lettering, she does something early on with the helicopter that I loved. It was an excellent way to get sound across in a silent vacuum of a comic book. It made for a great hook, and everything throughout is laid out nice and clean.
Even putting nostalgia aside, I can recommend the Six Million Dollar Man as a solid, entertaining read that makes for a great introduction to a forty-plus year old character and concept. Dynamite Entertainment assembled a top notch team to bring this property into the hands of readers old and young alike and I for one am eager to get my hands on the next issue. Please let this be a monthly and not a miniseries.
Six Million Dollar Man #1
Nostalgia aside, I can recommend the Six Million Dollar Man as a solid, entertaining read that makes for a great introduction to a forty-plus year old character and concept.
William J. Jackson is a small town laddie who self publishes books of punk genres, Victorian Age superheroes, rocket ships and human turmoil. He loves him some comic books, Nature, Star Trek and the fine art of the introvert.