“Skyman” #1, written by Joshua Hale Fialkov with art by Manuel Garcia, opens with a bar scene where a drunk former hero causes a ruckus, destroys the bar and kills a few people in the process. The race card gets played early and often, becoming a crutch despite the story’s potential to fly on its own, like the titular star.
The outburst from the deposed Skyman points the n-word at the president and explodes a mushroom cloud of knee-jerk bureaucratic decision-making. Yes, some of those choices probably track closely to what would really happen in the world, but the focus of the search for a new Skyman becomes based almost solely on race, which never really gives Fialkov a chance to develop any of his characters who are immediately established as cardboard cutout fill-ins. There’s plenty of tension, but most of it is manufactured and overshadows the adventure waiting for wounded Marine veteran Sergeant Eric Reid.
Suffering from crushed vertebrae, Reid is given a chance to pilot the Skyman program, but is doing so under the watchful eye of Lieutenant Sharp, who literally has his hands on the controls of the program. Sharp is under orders from General Abernathy, which gives “Skyman” #1 a chance to be reminiscent of the Cary Bates’ “Captain Atom” series where General Wade Eiling was pulling the strings behind Atom’s heroics. I’d like more of a focus on the subterfuge and conspiracy that powered “Captain Atom” than the racial overtones currently weighing down “Skyman.”
Dan Scott’s action-filled cover gives readers a nice glimpse of what could be for Skyman. Unfortunately, the interior art for “Skyman” #1 by Manuel Garcia takes some drastic leaps in storytelling, like the opening scene where an innocent bystander moves out of the doomed bar on foot as quickly as a drunk Skyman takes to the air. Other scenes, like the fight between Reid and Sharp, also suffer from storytelling shorthand blended with Garcia’s heavily-shadowed style. Garcia does a fine job of detailing character expressions and reactions, but needs some refinement in the storytelling and movement throughout the tale.
“Skyman” #1 is a mundane first issue that offers potential for future issues. Presuming we’re ready to leave the racial slurs behind and focus on the construction of Skyman, Fialkov and Garcia have their work cut out for them. There’s a lot of story waiting to be told here and Fialkov has established there are plenty of foundational blocks to build a world upon.