Resurrection Man (comics)
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Cover to Resurrection Man (vol. 2) #1. Art by Ivan Reis.
|First appearance||Resurrection Man #1 (vol. 1) (May 1997)|
|Created by||Andy Lanning
|Alter ego||Mitchell "Mitch" Shelley|
|Team affiliations||Forgotten Heroes
Justice Legion Alpha
|Abilities||Immortality via resurrection
Each revival grants a new, different superpower
Resurrection Man was created by British writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and American artist Butch Guice. The initial idea came to them while working for Marvel Comics in the early 90s. Abnett and Lanning considered reviving the Great Lakes Avengers, a superhero team led by a character called Mr Immortal. They felt that Mr Immortal was boring because immortality was his only power. Lanning thought the character would be more interesting if he gained a different superpower with every resurrection. When they moved to DC Comics, they proposed the concept to the editors.
Mitch Shelley made his debut in Resurrection Man #1 (1997). The character was written as a non-traditional superhero who did not wear a colorful costume or regularly associate with the likes of the Justice League. The book series was written like a TV series, with a grand story arc in which Shelley wanders America in search of the truth behind his past and his transformation. The first volume of Resurrection Man was critically acclaimed but was not a big success. It was cancelled in 1999 after 27 issues, though Mitch kept making occasional guest appearances in other books.
In 2011, DC editor Eddie Berganza asked Abnett and Lanning to revive Resurrection Man as an ongoing title. The new series debuted in September 2011, with Fernando Dagnino Guerra as the artist, but was cancelled in September 2012 after 13 issues (numbered 1 through 12 with the final issue being numbered 0) due to mediocre sales.
Born in Viceroy, South Carolina, Mitchell "Mitch" Shelley became a lawyer who found himself an unwilling test subject for experimentation in nanotechnology, involving specialized devices nicknamed "tektites" by an organization known only as "the Lab". The experiments cost Shelley his memory for several months but also rendered him immortal albeit with a twist: he could still be killed but the death would last a matter of seconds (perhaps minutes at most due to the tektites) and he would be reborn with a superpower influenced by the way he was last killed. A comment by the Phantom Stranger in RM #18 about having worked with Shelley in previous lifetimes suggests that there is more to his powers than just the tektites. However, the series never expanded on this point.
Shelley's travels in search of the truth of his identity and his newfound powers would take him across the United States, leading him into an ongoing feud with assorted adversaries including Vandal Savage, the Body Doubles and others, as well as alliances and friendship with various members of the Justice League (although he did not feel comfortable acting in a traditional superhero role). At least one alternate future has established Shelley's survival and long-term League membership into the 853rd Century. By then he had developed a device, the Resurrector, attached to his wrist, that could kill him in a way that allowed him to select specific powers (as opposed to the "Luck of the draw" system his normal deaths went by), in addition to always possessing super strength and flight comparable to Superman's. Vandal Savage was able to use this device against him, reprogramming the Resurrector to constantly kill Shelley, never giving him the chance to resurrect, until the Martian Manhunter destroyed the device. However, Shelley later returned alive in the subsequent DC One Million 80-Page Giant #1,000,000 (1999).
Whenever Shelley is killed, he returns to life with a different power (or "gift" as he often refers to it) that correlates in some way to his death. These range from minor, almost dismissive abilities, such as the changing of his skin color and making pyrotechnic butterflies, to the extraordinary, such as the ability to transform into a Hulk-like monster with a bullet-proof hide or quantum based telekinesis. He can potentially become more powerful than any other superhero on Earth if he "resurrects right". The source of his power appears to be nanites called "tektites" that permeate his body, although the Phantom Stranger claimed that Shelley had powers in previous lives. Whenever Shelley dies, the tektites will leave his body, consume biomatter from the surrounding environment, and use that biomatter to rebuild Shelley's body. Shelley can resurrect whatever the state of his remains, including total cremation.
During the run of Resurrection Man, Abnett and Lanning also wrote an Elseworlds graphic novel called The Superman Monster which retold the story of Frankenstein as a Superman story. This featured an actual "resurrection man" (i.e. a body-snatcher) who was drawn to closely resemble Mitch Shelley.
- Resurrection Man Vol. 1 (Resurrection Man #1-13)
- Resurrection Man Vol. 1: Dead Again (Resurrection Man Vol. 2 #1–7)
- Resurrection Man Vol. 2: A Matter of Death and Life (Resurrection Man Vol. 2 #0, #8-12)
- Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1990s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
The writing team of Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett alongside the art of Jackson "Butch" Guice introduced readers to a new kind of hero in Resurrection Man.
- Abnett & Lanning Revive "Resurrection Man" - Comic Book Resources
- "DC Comics Announces 'Justice League Dark,' 'Swamp Thing,' 'Animal Man,' and More". Comics Alliance. 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- DC Cancels Resurrection Man in September. BleedingCool.com.