The first issue of this series was not good. It failed at providing any decent amount of first act material and what was there only showed off Kevin Smith’s inadequacies as a writer. This second installment, however, is a step in the right direction. The biggest development is the villain, while Steve Austin gets one step closer to the inevitable.
The suspense around Austin’s plane crash and subsequent medical emergency is still plodding along as it did last issue. There is no need to drag this business out at all. We can all understand why the plot needs to be set up, but the second issue ends with us still on the precipice of the obvious occurring. The argument could be made that new fans, ones without knowledge of all the prior history, will enjoy the slow burn set up of Austin’s ascension and to that I cry foul. We are two issues into “The Bionic Man” and we still don’t have a man who is bionic. Well, not a hero anyway. If next issue doesn’t slap some technology into Austin, then surely readers will walk.
While Austin’s story is still a bust, Smith and Phil Hester set up a villain who is intriguing and a touch cool. The montage fight scene of assembled lackeys storming to their certain doom at the hands of our ‘other’ bionic man is a little preposterous, but sets up the enormity of what Austin will face once he’s back in action. The justification of the idiotic scrambling towards death as being a monetary challenge actually makes the silliness worthwhile.
The political dealings leading toward Oscar Goldman getting one more chance to assemble a man-machine aren’t bad or good. This scene simply is; while it sets up Goldman’s connection to our villain, it doesn’t foreshadow much else. This is one of those expositional necessities that isn’t made greater in any way.
Jonathan Lau is stuck with a lot of talking heads in rooms, so when he’s allowed out to play he makes the most of it. Steve Austin is stuck on an operating table, a smashed vision of his former self, and Lau smashes up the panel like shards of glass to show us the obvious breakages he holds on the inside. It’s a neat moment that does so much without you really thinking about it.
“The Bionic Man” is getting better, marginally, and here we break on a fairly strong point. The debut issue should have been double sized and left us on the point this second issue does. Hopefully, the next issue will round out the first act and then the actual story can begin. There’s a very slow burn here and we can only hope things pick up by issue #4-5 at this rate. Once the Bionic Man emerges, things may get interesting, but here he’s stuck between a plane crash and some duelling old guns proving their bureaucratic worth.