Malignant Man issue 1

Created by and Story by James Wan, Written by Michael Alan Nelson, Art by Piotr Kowalski, Colors by Jordie Bellaire & Letters by Steve Wands. Cover A by Trevor Hairsine & Cover B by Rael Lyra.  Published by Boom Studios.

 The objective of a comic first issue is to get you hooked, and Malignant Man issue 1 will do just that and leave you wanting more by the end. This book is an action packed read that starts like a casual jog and ends at a breathtaking sprint.

 The main character, Alan, finds out that the chemotherapy he has been receiving for a brain tumor has had no effect and is in fact, spreading. Alan is given about two to maybe three weeks to live by his doctor. Instead of choosing to die in a hospital, Alan decides to shuffle off this mortal coil in the comfort of his own bed. Here is where the story takes its turn for the better, at least for the reader. Alan breaks up a mugging but is left with a gunshot wound to the head. Miraculously, he is not dead and is rushed to the hospital. At first glance, it looks like the story is going to follow the well-traveled path of ‘an accident gives a person superpowers’ story. That is not the case here; instead, the accident has awoken something inside of Alan’s head. As his head is opened up by the doctors, a woman brandishing a pistol enters and whisks Alan away but not before men in black suits wielding sawlike weapons come calling for him. A gunfight/saw fight ensues, body count rises and the woman, let’s say, puts Alan’s head back together in a not so skilled precise manner of a surgeon. The woman defeats the men and flees with Alan who begins to heal. During this escape, Alan has flashbacks to memories (which were being eaten away by the tumor) of a childhood incident that would be very hard to forget. Enter the men in suits’ boss or Mr. Cancer as he is called by one of the men. As ruthless as his name, Mr. Cancer kills the man for his failure to capture Alan, the Malignant.

 Michael Alan Nelson is a writer to watch or better yet to be read. He is running the gambit of genres with his horror zombie survival of 28 Days Later, Sci-Fi with Insurrection v3.6 and with the mixed action/horror of Malignant Man. What makes this story work so well is the careful writing. Nelson does a marvelous job of not explaining Alan’s abilities with boring exposition or a good old fashioned info dump. The dialogue is also a high point of the book; for example, when the woman comes to Alan’s rescue, she never gets hung up on trying to explain the situation but instead sticks to the point of just trying to keep him calm. Alan comes across as someone who has accepted his fate without the moping about in the proverbial end credits of life.

 The art is nailed perfectly by Piotr Koalski with his classic illustration. Piotr handles the action scenes very well and the art mimics the accelerating pace as the book unfolds. A fun part of the art is that all the men in the suits have a similar look, giving them a Men in Black feel. The gruesome murder scenes of the hospital are beautifully rendered in a macabre sense adding to the horror element of the book. The mugger at the very beginning of the book is drawn in a peculiar manner which hints at the mugger not being so ordinary (this may play out later). Lastly, Piotr seals the deal with his depiction of Mr. Cancer as being imposing and a sort of modern Count Dracula. This a terminal stage four book that you should read regardless of how many days, weeks or years, doctors have given you to live.