Review: Bionic Man Annual
Three words: Venus Death Probe. When a clandestine Chinese spacecraft crash lands north of Alaska, it’s a race against time between China and the United States–each anxious to salvage valuable high-tech secrets–to hunt down an errant rover built to survive the greenhouse hell of the Venusian atmosphere! OSI Agent Steve Austin tests the limits of his bionics as he hunts down an independent-minded machine determined to complete its mission no matter where it has landed!
This week Dynamite’s Bionic Man series gets an annual. The OSI are in a race with China to retrieve a downed rover with some hidden technology inside. The story is written by Scott Beatty with pencils from Kietrich Smith. Alex Guimaraes provides color with Marshall Dillon tackling lettering.
The story entitled Transit to Venus starts out with a space probe missing its mark by quite a bit. The Chinese have sent off a probe to Venus, but it ends up somewhere around the Arctic Circle. All of the US top brass are meeting at NORAD headquarters in Colorado to discuss what the plan of action is. All signs point to Beijing sending out a weapon with next gen technology that nobody has Intel on. Of course Steve Austin is there since he is a walking weapon with next generation tech. Austin is tasked with finding the probe and figuring out what it can do. He launches out of OSI’s base in Colorado and quickly encounters the arachnid-like probe. It’s putting up a pretty good fight. There’s an added complication when the Chinese send out their own bionic man of sorts to retrieve the probe. It has to be stopped, but can Austin and the new guy put aside their differences long enough to stop it?
Beatty writes a fast-paced and action-packed story. Annuals are usually high octane events that give you a one-shot story while setting things up for the future. Beatty does that well. With 30 pages though, it’s all really fast. A few more pages would have really allowed the story to play out in full with an even greater effect. Everything falls into place and gets going just a little too quickly. Smith does a great job on art. He gets to draw a big barrel-chested Steve Austin who really uses his abilities to the fullest. He also manages to liven up the Artic landscape and keeps it from being a big monotonous blur. Although he may get some nasty letters from Polar Bear fans. Guimaraes does a great job on colors and really elevates the art.
Bottom Line: The Bionic Man Annual is a fast-paced adventure with an interesting story. As someone who is only an occasional reader of the Bionic Man title, it’s pretty accessible to all readers. As with most annuals, there’s a lot of good stuff but it’s just a little more fast paced than you’d like 3.5/5