SPACEMAN tells the story of Orson, a hulking, lonely loser who spends his days collecting scrap metal and dreaming of the star-trekking life he was genetically engineered for. When Orson finds himself at the center of a celebrity child kidnapping case, he sees a chance to raise himself out of his sad life and become a hero, but a hero’s life may not be the life he thought it would be.
This hardcover collects the entire nine issue miniseries, plus the short story from STRANGE ADVENTURES #1.
Spaceman, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso 6.75
I have absolutely no idea how this book got into my hands. Let me make a small correction: I got it from the library; it was on request and it eventually came in. But I don’t recall making the request and I don’t have any idea what prompted me to make it. I simply have no idea.
But I trust my own judgement, so, when I got my hands on it, I thought I’d give it a chance. Surely there must have been a good reason for it to be on my list.
After having read it, I can’t for the life of me figure out what that reason is. Aside from Risso doing the art on ‘Transmetropolitan’, a comic I’ve read, I can’t find any connection. I also can’t find the appeal of it: to me, ‘Spaceman’ was a relatively mundane read, providing nothing exemplary other than a futuristic language.
Or, at least, an attempt at one.
You see, this takes place at some later point in time, and in a downtrodden urban setting, so Azzarello decided to give most of the characters some sort of street slang that is adapted from basic English. I’ll give the guy kudos for effort, but the result is a repetitive and not especially clever use of language (ex: “brain” instead of “think” or “thought”?). I sometimes found it hard to precisely understand what was being said because terms were used in such a vague fashion.
Because, beyond that, the story in ‘Spaceman’ is about a ogre-like man who goes on the run after rescuing the young star of a reality show from some kidnappers. Been there, done that. The only novel touch is that our protagonist is a leftover clone from a NASA project designed to create human beings resilient enough to explore Mars. That’s about it. Everything else is relatively mundane.
The only thing worth highlighting is the artwork, which is actually quite good. Eduardo Risso’s pencils are sleek and very modern-looking, and they are helped by a great ink job and what looks to me like digital colouring. It’s all-in-all a slick presentation, and it totally elevates the book above its peers. I’d even go so far as saying that it’s better than the book deserves. Mean, I know, but it’s how I feel.
Because, in my estimation, ‘Spaceman’ is nothing special at all. It’s an “alright” book that doesn’t always read well, so there’s not much incentive for plodding through it. If only it felt more inspired or gripped the reader then it would be worth the effort. Alas, it’s not.