After an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Captain Midnight, a drunken Skyman accidentally kills an innocent man! Needing a new face for their initiative ASAP, the Skyman Program turns to US Air Force Sgt. Eric Reid: a wounded veteran on the ropes, looking for a new lease on life.
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and drawn by Manuel Garcia, this new series debuted yesterday from Dark Horse Comics. This is a spin-off of another superheroes that they publish called Captain Midnight, which I’ve never read, but that turns out not to be necessary to follow the story in this book. All you need to know is that Project: Skyman was a top secret program run by the U.S. Government to provide the military with a superhero to perform secret missions. It’s been run for decades, with new men who train their whole lives taking on the identity of Skyman when necessary. But the most recent Skyman went a little nuts, accidentally blew up a building, and in this issue he goes on a drunken rampage and kills and innocent man then goes on a long racist tirade against the government (& calls Obama the N-word) which is caught on video and broadcast to the whole country. So the government decides that Project: Skyman is to be declassified, and that a new candidate is picked to take over the role, someone that the public can trust.
Eric Reid is that man. He was injured when his plane went down during a mission, and now he has to use crutches or a wheelchair to move around, although he’s been going through rehab, determined to regain the full use of his legs and walk again. General Abernathy is the man in charge of the program, and he selected Eric for the job for several reasons, including the fact that Eric is Black, and the General believes that it’s best to have a Black man take over the Skyman role, in order to disassociate from the previous Skyman. Lieutenant Sharpe, who was one of the soldier already in the program, is put in charge of training Eric on how to use the special Skyman suit. While in the suit, Eric can fly, has super-strength, faster reflexes, and is near-invulnerable. Out of the suit he is back to be his normal handicapped self. The issue ends with Eric in costume flying to join President Obama for a press conference introducing him to the public.
So this is mostly a set-up issue, but it works. Fialkov gives us some good characterization, particularly in the scene where Eric is at home with his wife Delia before he’s taken away by Abernathy. And the antagonistic working relationship between Eric and Lt. Sharpe is established, as Sharpe is annoyed that he wasn’t selected to be the new Skyman just because he’s White. He deliberately picks a fight with Eric (while Eric is naked in the shower) but it’s hard to tell if Sharpe was just trying to test Eric’s courage or if he genuinely is trying to prove that Eric is not right for the job. Sharpe pulls another tricky move at the end of the issue, which also makes me question his real motives. In addition to that, there’s also the question about whether Eric really was responsible for the accident that crippled him (& killed some other soldiers), and what will happen to the last Skyman, who appears to be still at large? These are all good little seeds that Fialkov has planted in this first issue which could possibly sprout into larger stories down the road. Garcia’s artwork is decent enough, although some of his faces look a little rough. His Barack Obama, in particular, is not very good. But that’s not enough to diminish my enjoyment of this issue. I will definitely be back next month for #2.
Chacebook rating: 4 STARS
Available digitally for just $2.99 via DigitalDarkHorse
EDITED TO ADD: Ryan at World of Black Heroes also reviewed this issue, check it out HERE