The Middleman #3: Inescapability
by Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Les McClaine (Viper, 2007)

If you've read one story about a secret agent with a tragic past, a perky sidekick and an irascible boss who faces off against an arch-nemesis from a global organization of evil with a really bad acronym and stolen alien technology that could destroy the world, you've read them all.

Thing is, I'm not sure if there are any others, although The Middleman certainly riffs off of several well-known icons, from James Bond to Captain America.

Sadly, my first exposure to this genre-busting series is volume three, Inescapability, leaving me to wonder what occurred earlier in the run. This one begins with a flashback to the death of Middleman's previous partner, Middleboy, before joining our story in progress as Middleman and his new partner, Wendy (Middlegirl?), continue their quest to bring F.A.T.B.O.Y. (did I mention the bad acronym?) to justice.

The simple black-and-white drawings by Les McClaine bring the story by Javier Grillo-Marxuach to life. And a fun romp it is, as Middleman, with cool detachment, foresees his foe's attack -- sixgun-toting ninjas in kendo armor -- but fails to predict that they'd be illiterate deaf-mutes, and so unable to respond to interrogation. Meanwhile, Wendy performs high-flying feats of combat wonder even as she strives to get her artwork hung in a show.

The genetically altered shark catches everyone, even the Middleman, by surprise.

It's a fun book. Viper should send me the previous volumes right away.

review by
Tom Knapp

17 November 2007

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