To a certain demographic, when the name Steve Austin is mentioned, it means that glass is going to break, beer is going to be quaffed and asses are going to be kicked. And I love that guy. But I also fall into another group, one for whom the name Steve Austin, as well as making us all a little misty eyed for the days of yore, represents sitting down on a Saturday afternoon to watch seventies tough guy Lee Majors, as the former astronaut rebuilt with bionic parts, running around in a dashing red tracksuit. Every leap he would make was met with an effect that sounded something like a slinky, but made you believe that the Six Million Dollar Man was capable of doing anything. So kudos to Dynamite for bringing this legend back from the decade that time wishes it could forget.
In case you were worried about The Six Million Dollar Man in Japan, being a reboot or something awful like that, then rest assured Dyanite have recognised the affection for this character and have backed that up with wonderful artwork from David Hahn, who captures that 1970’s spy espionage vibe perfectly. And as the action begins in Japan in 1974, we don’t have to see Austin dealing with any millennials or silliness of that nature. Nope, there’s none of that nonsense. Just Steve Austin in his element and in his prime.
Austin is despatched to Tokyo to investigate the Japanese nuclear program and the possibility that it might be using stolen U.S Military secrets. As the tale is set smack bang in the middle of the Cold War, it’s entirely possible that those pesky Russians are in on the action too. As Austin and his new partner Niko make their way through a missile silo, taking down the Japanese Army and a private army of ninjas, its noticeable how writer Christopher Hastings has taken the usually serious, all business persona of Austin and given him a bit of a humorous makeover. I found this jarring for the first couple of pages, as the way our bionic hero describes his abilities, whilst kicking ass is all a bit Johnny Bravo. This soon passed though. Overseeing everything from the Japanese perspective is the mysterious Mr Amari, who is forced to take matters into his own hands before Austin can tear down his empire.
The Six Million Dollar Man, who would probably cost a lot more than that these days by the way, was always, and essentially remains, James Bond on steroids, minus the hideous treatment of women. Keeping Austin in his own time, mired in the the Cold War was a good decision as this is perfect fodder for the spy thriller genre and the obvious sci-fi elements aside, there is a genuine hint of the supernatural in the big bad Mr Amari. If you’ve never checked out The Six Million Dollar Man, now’s your chance as The Six Million Dollar Man in Japan perfectly captures the essence of the Steve Austin character and the time period he emerged from; and it’s also a great story. You don’t want this book, you need it “and that’s the bottom line ‘cos Stone Cold said so.” Sorry wrong Austin. My bad, just read the damn book already… Chris Andrews