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Royal Reviews: Malignant Man #1

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Sunday, April 24 2011 and posted in Reviews

It's a mysterious new concept from Boom! Studios written by Michael Alan Nelson and created by James Wan, the directer of the original SAW film!

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Written by James Wan, Michael Alan Nelson
Drawn by Pitor Kowalski
SC, 24pgs, FC, SRP: $3.99
COVER A: Trevor Hairsine
COVER B: Rael Lyra
Diamond Code: FEB110851

Alan Gates, a cancer patient with a terminal diagnosis, is resigned to his fate…until he discovers that his tumor is actually a mysterious parasite! Granted a second lease on life and incredible, otherworldly powers, Alan must fight against an evil army buried beneath society’s skin, all the while unlocking the secrets of his forgotten past. Dark, twisted, and unlike anything else on the stands, Malignant Man is a sci-fi thriller that can’t be missed!


Oftentimes, when a comic book has an explosive first isse that deals with such elements as action, violence, secret societies, mysterious superpowers, and diabolical villains, the pathos and humanity tends to get left behind.  In Malignant Man #1, writer Michael Alan Nelson makes sure to bring them to the forefront early.  His portrayal of a man with a dark past now dying of cancer is very sensitive and poignant.  It's everything afterwards that may leave a reader's head spinning.

Alan Gates, when we first meet him, is receiving the bad news that his malignant brain tumor is metastasizing, and that he doesn't have much time left.  He doesn't have much time to lament though, as he is shot while trying to stop a mugging.  No sooner does the surgical team start to operate than a mysterious woman named Sarah bursts into the operating room and scurries off with Alan.  Just as this is happening, a group of killers shows up at the hospital in search of Alan and starts killing everybody in sight.   Also, whatever Alan has growing in his head isn't cancer at all.  So what is it?  That's the cliffhanger. 

Really, though, the cliffhanger starts on the eighth page of this issue.  Questions upon questions are brought up, and none of them answered.  It's a lot of fun, but there's some definite weirdness here.  The title is Malignant Man and the villain's name is Mr. Cancer.  There's a lot of B-movie texture here, and that much isn't surprising considering the concept comes from James Wan, co-creater of the SAW franchise of movies.  Still, if there's anything Nelson has proven about himself in his short career, it's that he knows how to play up just about any concept and maximize its potential.  He throws a lot into the story for the reader to latch onto, and the audience really ought to come back for whatever comes next in this story. 

Pitor Kowalski has an understated style, but displays some very strong storytelling.  His work is very straightforward, but his action scenes, of which there are many in this issue, work really well.  The muted color palette by Jordie Bellaire is an interesting choice.  It gives the comic a grounded look that offsets the chaos of the action.  Boom! has shown a tendency to do use this kind of look in its action comics before, and it works here as well it has in those past stories. 

Cancer is already a difficult and often unpredictable thing to have to deal with, but Malignant Man #1 externalizes that chaos and uncertainty to create a pulpy, violent, and mysterious thrill ride of a comic.

Royal Reviews: Malignant Man #1

Royal Reviews: Malignant Man #1

Royal Reviews: Malignant Man #1

Royal Reviews: Malignant Man #1

Royal Reviews: Malignant Man #1

Royal Reviews: Malignant Man #1

Royal Reviews: Malignant Man #1

Royal Reviews: Malignant Man #1

Review by: Royal Nonesuch

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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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