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Sunday Slugfest - Mr. T

Posted: Sunday, June 5, 2005
By: Keith Dallas

Writer: Chris Bunting
Artists: Neil Edwards (p), Randy Emberlin (i)

Publisher: AP Comics





Average Rating:


Michael Deeley:
Kelvin Green:
Judson Miers:
James Redington:






Michael Deeley

Mr. T comes out of hiding when a deadly new drug hits the streets.

Thatís it. Thatís the entire comic. A doctor talks Mr. T into fighting drug dealers again. We also get glimpses of the people behind this new drug.

I usually donít notice a comicís lettering unless it especially original or unique, (like Todd Kleinís or Dave Simís). One thing bugged me about the lettering in this comic: ďZĒ. It looks like the letter used an upside-down ď2Ē for the letter ďZĒ. This confused me when I first saw it. I thought it was a ďTĒ, or a weird ďGĒ, or an unpronounceable symbol. Is it really so hard to extend the top line of ďZĒ or draw that bottom angle instead of a curve?

This is a very dark comic. I mean, everything takes place at night. Dr. Johnson talks to Mr. T in a dark room. The colorist does a nice job there playing with light. As Mr. T grows more convinced he should return the light on his face slowly grows. Inking is heavy and often thick. This reinforces the darkness of the comic. The story is simple, but the dialogue feels honest and natural. I could see people in real life talking like this. The page where Dr. Johnson talks about how the drug dealers threatened his family has body language that accurately conveys his despair.

The bookís flaws lie with its competence. It doesnít do much more than tell the basic story. The neighborhoodís in trouble, Mr. T has to come back. It doesnít try anything new. The story feels subdued, which is appropriate considering its mood, but it also lacks depth.

There are also a few unintentional moments of humor. The issue opens with the song ďTeddy Bearsí PicnicĒ on panels depicting the ghetto. Maybe the writer meant to contrast the levity of the song with the grim reality, maybe he wanted to heighten a menacing undercurrent to the song. When Dr. Johnson tells Mr. T the new drug is a super-steroid, the next panel focuses on Tís big, beefy arms. Now, Iím not implying Mr. T ever used steroids. But anytime a man with big muscles tells you not to use steroids, it undercuts the message. Thatís like Michael Moore telling you not to be so shrill.

I wouldnít call Mr. T a bad comic. Itís not a great comic either; itís just good. Itís only the first issue, so the creative team has plenty of time to bring more life and excitement to the series.




Kelvin Green

Itís like he never left. This comic has a darker and more complex feel than Mr. Tís eighties adventures, but itís still a tale of Mr. T saving inner-city kids from the dangers of drugs and life on the mean streets, just like the old cartoon and the Be Somebody Or Be Somebodyís Fool inspirational video. Itís a bit strange to have this filtered through Fist Of The North Star style artwork and an almost superheroic storytelling style, but itís also pleasantly familiar, and Iím sure the man himself is very pleased with the portrayal.

Although the writing is in places fairly heavy-handed, for the most part itís an impressive job; the characterisation is particularly strong, with a number of interesting and complex characters introduced in this first issue. The hero in hiding and the essentially good man who is powerless to do the right thing could be argued to be clichťs, but they work in this situation, and Chris Bunting rounds them out so that theyíre more than mere stereotypes. Of particular note is the way that Mr. Tís real life religious convictions have been included in the comic; at no point does it threaten to degenerate into preaching or a tract, but it remains clear that his faith is very important to the character, and that itís a strong motivator in his actions as a hero. Itís very well-handled, and serves as a good example of how to write religious characters. Nightcrawler from the X-Men, for example, would benefit from such a portrayal.

Iím not as fond of the art, however. In truth, there arenít many technical flaws; there are a few odd perspectives and some strange poses, but nothing particularly offensive to the eye. Rather, I think itís the style of the artwork that I have trouble with. Itís an odd mix of quasi photo realistic imagery appropriate to the gritty urban setting and anatomical exaggeration more suited to superhero comics or certain manga and anime, and I think that the mixture doesnít quite work. Mr. T is a big man, but he certainly doesnít look much like the titanic character portrayed here. I have no particular difficulty with drawing the main character in such a way, but I find it jarring set against the visual style elsewhere in the book, and it will take some getting used to.

Happily, I wouldnít mind getting used to it. While this comic hasnít excited me, it has impressed me. The idea of a licensed Mr. T comic coming out nowadays didnít sound like the most promising idea, I must admit, but the talent assembled have convinced me that it is at least a viable proposition. This is well worth a look.




Judson Miers

Synopsis: Inner-city drugs (steroids, actually) and African-Americans with gang issues. Hasnít this been done to death?!?!? Who didnít see this one coming? For an America who is so ď PC,Ē I donít understand the whole point of perpetuating and exploiting the stereotypes of the downtrodden underprivileged inner city youth.

Anyway, Mr. Tís a crime fighter who was set up some time back, spent some time in the pen, and now is trying to stay low because he was set-up. His old friend, a decorated soldier turned doctor, is involved because of intimidation. Doc and Mr. T hash out all the reasons why a hero is still needed. The conclusion is inevitableÖMr. Tís back in action!

Comments: The artwork was certainly awesome (thatís why 2 bullets), but I just canít really plop down the money to buy any comic about Clubber Lang! Next, Rockyíll come back and help him clean up the streets!!!

I pity the fool who donít read my comic book!




James Redington

I hate to say it, but I actually liked this comic. Itís funny because for some strange reason I wanted to hate it. I wanted to not enjoy it. Why? Because itís Mr T.

Now donít get me wrong, I loved Mr. T in the A-Team and thought he was great in Rocky III, and I also enjoyed his cartoon as a kid. But it was then, it was cheese and this is now. I wasnít expecting the comic to be so set in reality (itís not complete reality, but itís not stupid cheese world). I wasnít expecting the art to be of a high quality, and I wasnít expecting an interesting plot that involves a Mr. T who is actually in hiding after being in prison for a ďcrime he didnít commit.Ē

Now this comic isnít perfect. The dialogue at times seems a little forced and often stale. I am not 100% happy with the art, but it is very nice: very dark and moody. Chris Bunting writes an interesting back-story and sets the scene for an explosive second issue. Mr. T doesnít really do anything till the last pages where he steps out of the shadows into a fight to save the life of a doctor who had gone for his help in cleaning up the streets of a new drug that is destroying the lives of neighbourhood kids. To fair the issue gets better as it goes along, and the dialogue seems actually quite realistic towards the end.

I would definitely recommend this if you are in the mood for some fun and a throwback to your childhood. I think that it may actually be better to wait for the trade, but thatís up to you.



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