Mudman, the new series from Image comics leaves a very distinct reaction of “Well” pause “That happened.” I’m not sure what the goal is here. It could be a piss-take, a little joyful ribbing at the expense of the costumed superhero. It could be an attempt to lay another pair of footprints down the well-worn road of comedy-meets-superhero. Whatever Image was going for, they missed the mark, at least with the first issue. A number one issue is supposed to slap out at you, grab you and reel you in. Mudman lays there like, well, like a bunch of wet mud.
Perhaps it’s that the story is set in England, where the humor is a bit drier. Centered on a character named Owen Craig, Mudman opens with a storm and a voice over that seethes and threatens that storm. Jump ahead to where Owen and one of his crew are stumbling around an old abandoned house. Owen discovers something in that house he refers to as the Batcave. It’s all a dream though, except now Owen’s extremities are randomly turning into mud. Is that another dream? Mudman #1 lays down the groundwork - we meet Owen, his sister, his father who suddenly vanishes and we get introduced to a local legend. All of this should grab us like the box from Hellraiser but it doesn’t. Mudman #1 just never comes together.
Part of it is that the idea of a Mudman comes too close to Clayface from Batman. There’s also the cleverness factor. Writer/artist Paul Gris tries so hard to make this a clever book and that really gets annoying by the end. He’s unnecessarily cryptic and sometimes downright hokey. Nothing sets Owen Craig apart from the plethora of teen angst kids who find themselves with superpowers. I also don’t dig Gris’s art. Mudman looks like the bastard child of Family Circus and Invincible. That’s the other problem I have, Mudman #1 reads like leftover pages from Invincible. Sure they’ve been changed up and given a bit of British slang, but it still reads the same. By the end of the first issue, I don’t care about Owen, his family, the mystery or why Owen is suddenly turning into mud.
I give full credit to this being a first issue. I originally hated Robert Kirkman’s werewolf comic but eventually fell in love with it. Image Comics might have a plan to drench us all in mud and give the comic book world the skin cleansing facial it needs. Until that arc comes and those plans are made clear, all I have is Mudman #1, which is boring and leaves you not caring and suffering from a horrid case of déjà vu. I’m all about a new set of superheroes for comic book fans to root for, but they have to be original, interesting and bring a new slant to the table. Mudman #1 does none of that. Until it does, I guess the best thing to do is grab a cocktail, raise it and declare with great purpose...
"Here’s mud in your eye."
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 3/10