I’ve looked at Pearce’s Mike Battle before (here and here) and although I had reservations, I’d enjoyed it, especially the later issues where he’s beginning to find an artistic style. But with Last Admin Hero he’s reprinting issues 8-10 of Sgt. Mike Battle, and some of the problems are back, along with a new problem of trying to switch his storytelling to a multi-issue storyline. More on that in a moment.
It’s certainly a change of pace for his action series starring the very all-American, all-over-the -top, all-action hero Mike Battle, here relegated to a supporting role, with the male lead going to the weedy bloke working as a temp in the admin department of some secret US military organisation. Or as Pearce puts it:
“The ridiculous scenario that entered my head was what if terrorists took-over the building, I was the only person to stop them and all I had was the contents of the stationary cupboard”
And that’s it really. Die Hard with the office admin temp in the Bruce Willis role, set against the backdrop of the Sgt. Mike Battle universe in the S.H.I.E.L.D. era of Jimmy Bond-esque superspies. Here’s his first scene:
John Trojan is just a lowly office temp, thrust into the limelight here when he just happens to be on a toilet break as the agents of A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. storm the building he works in, the brilliantly designed Section D – a straight up yours to the UN building opposite. They’re intending to sell out the good ol’ U. S. of A. and flog its secret-est secrets to the highest bidder.
Panic ensues, or rather it would, if the folks in charge weren’t trying to figure out something much more important:
In some ways that A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. gag is the very essence of this comic. Enjoy that and you’ll find a lot to enjoy.
The simple concept works really well at the start, with the turn it all on its head idea of the last guy in the building being genuinely a bit useless. There’s clever gag after clever gag, all playing on our familiarity with the stuff Pearce is pastiching. Again, another war-room funny:
I have to admit though, I think Pearce’s work is more suited to shorter tales, where he gets to keep things fresh and light and clever and succinct, within the confines of a single issue. Stretched out over the three issues here, the simple concept feels just that – stretched, and just that little bit thin. By the end, it’s a little overdone, a little tired. I was lagging by the end, I really was, and the joy of the original gags had gone.
Art wise, quite naturally, it’s between the really rough first issues and the more nuanced, stylish stuff that came after it. There are faults, of course there are, but you can easily overlook them, enjoy the nice art when it pops up and generally get swept up in the adventure. Flawed but fun.
And Pearce certainly knows how to fill the book with some genuinely interesting and worthwhile extras – an alternate ending courtesy of Pearce’s wife, a brilliantly done tongue firmly in cheek trailer, loads of concept art and behind the scenes stuff (did you all catch the Akira reference in the cover by the way?).
Last Admin Hero is available from Graham Pearce at the Sgt Mike Battle website. And if John Trojan’s adventures have set your heart racing, Pearce promises Last Admin Hero II is coming soon(ish).