The Middleman only aired for one season, back in 2008, but it remains one of our most beloved pieces of pop culture. And now, at last the Middleman and Wendy Watson are back in action. Both pairs of them. Creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach has come up with a brand new graphic novel, and here's our spoiler-free preview of the script.
For those who missed it, The Middleman was a series of graphic novels that became a TV show on ABC Family. It tells the adventures of a mysterious hero known only as the Middleman, who fights monsters and evildoers with the help of his sidekick, Wendy. Both the TV show and the graphic novels had a good-natured, zippy approach to heroism along with tons and tons of geek humor. But it was also the characters, including Wendy's friends Lacey and Noser, who made the series addictive and sorely missed.
So it's fantastic news that Grillo-Marxuach is running a crowdfunding campaign to publish a brand new Middleman graphic novel, and also produce new editions of the earlier graphic novels. And it's even better news that the new graphic novel is going to be brilliant.
Without giving away absolutely anything, we've read the script for "The Pan-Universal Parental Reconciliation," and it's absolutely primo Middleman. Grillo-Marxuach (and artist Les McClaine) are going to wrap up a ton of loose ends that might have been bothering you since the show went off the air and the last comic was published.
Not only that, but the storyline of this graphic novel, bridging the comic-book and TV versions of the characters, is quite possibly the most demented Middleman tale yet. Yes, even more ridiculous and far-fetched than the trout zombies. Your mind will be reeling as you attempt to encompass all of the strange twists and bizarre reality-warps in this graphic novel. As the crowdfunding notice mentions, "the comic book characters collide with their TV counterparts" in this storyline, and the result is every bit as mind-boggling as you'd expect.
Reading the script to this graphic novel on the bus, I think my loud cackling at the one-liners and clever in-jokes might have terrified some of the other passengers. There's more oddball humor and silliness crammed into this one story than a few episodes of the TV show put together. And the characters' voices are instantly recognizeable — you won't be able to avoid hearing the dialogue spoken in the dulcet tones of Natalie Morales and Matt Keeslar, no matter how hard you may attempt to substitute other, less-talented actors.
But another reason we miss the Middleman so much is because of the relationships between the characters and the way they managed to affect you emotionally without cheap sentiment. And there are some really touching scenes in this new story, particularly involving Wendy working out some of her longstanding issues.
All in all, we can't wait to see this amazing new story fully illustrated by McClaine, not to mention performed by the original cast at a table read! For anyone who still feels the loss of The Middleman as keenly as a long-lost best friend — and I'm guessing that's a lot of us — this will be an incredibly welcome return. It really is like they never left.
Full disclosure: Grillo-Marxuach is a pal, who has performed a couple times at my spoken word show, Writers With Drinks.