Monday, April 05, 2004

Finally, I'll get around to commenting on Jeff Parker's Interman graphic novel, which he graciously sent me a copy of a few weeks ago.

Interman is a spy/sci-fi/action-thriller type concept, which introduces us to one Van Meach, who was the result of a secret government project conducted during the early 60s, the goal being to create a human who could be instantly adaptable to any environment or threat. After Van was "born", however, the project was sabotaged, the other samples destroyed, and the project was closed down. Baby Meach was at first taken in by the Professor who was project head, but then he was given to someone else later with instructions to monitor his progress and report in. Eventually, though, after administrative changes and other distractions, the sole progeny of the project was forgotten about...until an accountant discovered that the Meach family government stipend was still being paid, and when he brings it to the head of the CIA (who just happens to be the former military head of the Interman project), he arranges to have Van killed for fear of what he might become as well as what he represents.

This is very much a nutshell version of the premise behind Interman 1, and to me represents both its strengths and its slight failing. There's just a lot of stuff crammed into this one issue. Interesting scenarios, intrigue, fascinating characters, lots of rough-and-tumble action, but it all goes by so quickly that I got a little overwhelmed, whichis to say that I barely got a good feel for this or that character before they were gone and another was here to take his or her place. Like master spy/professional killer Outcalt, for example. The clever conceit behind the killer quintet "The Compass" was something I would have liked to have seen more of; May, who would seem to be another result of the Interman project, and several of the others who make up the large tapestry of this book. And to make it worse, many of these characters die, some after a bit of background, and some right after we meet them! This is not so much a shortcoming, though, as it is frustrating. Hopefully, Parker has a lot more characters left where they came from, to be showcased and knocked off in subsequent issues of Interman.

Otherwise, no real complaints. Parker's art evokes fond memories of reading comics illustrated by Doug Wildey, although his style is a bit looser than Wildey's. Still, he has a definite knack for composing his pages, especially his action scenes. Once in a great while, there's a face or a pose that looks a little too loose or awkward, but it doesn't happen often.

The Interman is a engrossing, exciting read, even if it is sometimes a bit gnarly plot-wise, and left me wanting to see more. I understand there's a movie in the works, perhaps, and that could be interesting as well, despite my misgivings about comics adaptations of films. I would think that spy/action films like Bond movies or The Bourne Identity (both the original and the remake) are some of the sources Parker had in mind when conceiving this, so perhaps it will be all right. Either way, hopefully there will be more graphic novels in the meantime...

For a preview of The Interman, go here.