Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: The Middleman - The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Continues and resolves some story points; fun
Cons: Story less resolved than the TV show finale; looses some of the show's personality
The Bottom Line
Back to the comics
The Middleman fights evil
Once again for fans

The Middleman Returns to His Comic Book Roots to Conclude the TV Series

During the summer of 2008, I got hooked on The Middleman, a show on ABC Family.  Every Monday night, I got a new adventure in the life of Wendy Watson, a young artist who pays the bills by being The Middleman's assistant.  And what do they do?  They fight evil invading aliens or zombie fish to keep the world safe for the rest of us.

Unfortunately, I was one of the few who watched the show.  (One person who worked on it joked that I was their fan.  Singular.)  So the show wrapped things up after 12 episodes, even giving us a sense of closure.  But the thirteenth episodes, which would have been the first season ender, was written.  So the creator decided to hire an artist to illustrate it so fans could read it as a comic book, a rather ironic touch since The Middleman started life as a series of comic books before becoming a TV show.  Anyway, that's how The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse was born.

The book picks up after the 12th episode.  Wendy is enjoying life with her new boyfriend when a mission interrupts.  Seems that one of their allies, a reformed soul sucking demon, has put out a call for help when two of her fellow reformees have been killed for their glands.  Before they know it, Wendy and The Middleman are fighting off killer robots and power grabbing maniacs to keep the world as we know it.  Along the way, we learn The Middleman's other love and his real name.  But before it is all over, someone might have to make the ultimate sacrifice (and no, it isn't what you think.)

The illustrator of this book had a thankless task.  He had to draw real actors as cartoons while borrowing a bit of the style from the original books.  Armando Zanker was brought in to fulfill that role, and he did a fairly good job of it.  I could easily recognize the main characters because they looked similar to their actors.  No, they were perfect replicas, but it worked.

Also working well was the story.  While I felt that episode 12 gave us enough closure, this does resolve some questions that weren't answered in the TV series.  I could have lived without knowing the answers, but it was nice to have them.

I'm not normally a comic book guy, so my next complaint probably reveals my bias, but I didn't find it quite as satisfying as an episode of a TV show would have been.  My guess is the original script probably had a bit more of a sub-plot then we got here.  The story seemed a little simple.  And there is no way any book can capture the fast paced, witty dialogue I loved so much on the show.

Honestly, my biggest complaint with the book is the ending.  It leaves us wanting to see what happens to the characters in season 2, something we will never see.  The official TV ending actually did a good job of wrapping things up so that we felt the characters were happy.  Not so here.  And I so what happy endings.  I need a new adventure after having read this, something I know I will never get.

Despite my complaints, fans of the TV show The Middleman will want to read The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse.  If you aren't a fan of the show, you won't really get this book, so watch the show first.  You'll be sorry you missed it by the time you're done with the pilot, trust me.

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