Mike Fallon, the fashion-conscious hitman with a quick wit and even quicker roundhouse is better known as Accident Man, the assassin who knows how to make his kills look like unfortunate accidents. The sharp-dressed hitman about town with a penchant for fast cars and faster women is the creation of Pat Mills and Tony Skinner. Together, those two penned several action-packed misadventures for Fallon to run-and-gun his way through. Some of those stories have been reprinted before in various capacities, but they’re collected in full, here, for the first time ever, in The Complete Accident Man.
As noted in the book’s introduction, written by Mills, he and Skinner’s Accident Man first appeared in Toxic!, a weekly British comic publication which ran for 31 issues, from March-October 1991. Mills was a co-creator of Toxic!, as he had been for long-running British publication 2000AD, but the title was not meant to last. Accident Man would run in 21 of Toxic!‘s issues, before moving on to one, 3-issue miniseries for Dark Horse Comics. All 24 issues are included in this hardcover collection.
The best thing about this collection is also noted in MIlls’ introduction: the art for Accident Man was created by three artists over the course of its run, and those three artists used three fairly distinct artistic styles in bringing Mills’ and Skinner’s stories to life. Well, four artists: Howard Chaykin provided the cover artwork.
Among the interior artists, first up is Martin Emond; he was the artist to initially illustrate Accident Man. Emond’s style feels sort of late-’80s punk surrealism, something like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Tank Girl; with a slightly abstract view that could be well at home in a Ralph Bakshi movie or on MTV’s Liquid Television. Emond’s style here is quite unassuming in its totality; his characters feel at home in his world, which also just happens to have quite a few funny sight gags.
Next up is Duke Mighten. Now, Mighten’s art is wholly different from Emond’s. Still a bit of ’80s flare, but it’s less punk and more Miami Vice. This work feels pulp at its base, working within a palette of flat, bright colors and soft, smooth lines. Mighten’s style would seem the most pleasing, aesthetically, of the three put on display here. For the three-issue Dark Horse Comics miniseries, the art of Duke Mighten returns; this time, he works entirely in black-and-white. This really helps highlight the striking pulp value of his illustrations. Marked crosshatching is heavily–and skillfully–employed throughout.
Last is John Erasmus. Erasmus’ style is very similar to Mighten’s, save for one little nudge: Erasmus appears to be working firmly within the sharp, neon world of the early-’90s. Just a bit more pointed and gritty, but still quite pulpy; even slightly pop art, at times, with certain panels that feel as though they would fit nicely onto a billboard or into a magazine advertisement. Erasmus’ work on the series comes between Mighten’s first work on the series and the Dark Horse Comics miniseries. Beginning with Erasmus’ period working on the series, and continuing throughout the miniseries, the title gets noticeably more sexual; it must have been a stylistic choice, but I’m not sure if it would have come from Mills and Skinner, or the artists. No matter the source, it’s just another way the series smoothly transitions through an evolution of different artistic choices.
Although there are several artistic styles on display here, the title never loses its focus. That can be attributed to two things: 1. these artists were all very comfortable in their own style and don’t seem to have been under much pressure–if any–to conform to whomever the artist was which came before them. Each individual style, though it may differ greatly from the others, feels complete and at ease within itself. That helps keep the variant in art from becoming a negative attribute that would draw attention away from the series’ plot. 2. The writing from Mills and Skinner maintains a consistent world with consistent sensibilities: Mike Fallon is a deadly assassin with a dry sense of humor (somewhat of a cross between Brock Samson and Sterling Archer, though he came before both); he kills because it pays well, and that’s all there is to it. There are several political and social bits of commentary scattered throughout the series, but it never overshadows the overarching point of it all: we’re here to see Mike Fallon do his thing.
All in all, I had never read Accident Man before getting my hands on this collection, and I must say I’m walking away quite impressed. As I mentioned, there’s definitely a twinge of Archer-type irreverent and absurdist humor, but it’s markedly darker and deadlier; reading it actually brought to mind Christian Bale in American Psycho. If you look, however, you’re always going to be reminded of things you’re familiar with because that’s just how art works, but the bottom line is this: The Complete Accident Man is a hell of a fun and clever romp through back alley business being conducted in high-class social clubs. James Bond wishes he had the freedom and wherewithal to do half the things Mike Fallon does, and that’s not even counting what goes on in the bedroom.