Mike Mignola and Greg Hinkle’s “Radio Spaceman: Mission to Numa 4” #2 takes the chaos of the first issue and piles on so much more, and only our nonplussed hero, Radio Spaceman, can save the day. . . I think.
Spoiler warning: Not only do we discuss some of the final moments of the issue, we straight-up ruin some of the best jokes. If you want a spoiler-free review, check out Brian’s review for issue #1.
Written by Mike Mignola
Illustrated by Greg Hinkle
Colored by Dave Stewart
Lettered by Clem Robins
The horrors at the mysterious temple escalate as Gargooom makes his presence known! Radio Spaceman and the formerly captured doctor attempt to make their escape, but an unexpected third party has emerged from the wreckage of the crash that began their adventure.
Mark Tweedale: Brian, I just went back and reread your review for issue #1. Like you, I enjoyed that first issue. I was actually surprised how much of Mike Mignola’s sketches from 2020 found their way into this comic, and so reading “Radio Spaceman” really taps into how I felt in 2020, where a new Mignola drawing was most often the bright spot of the entire day—and it could be anything. So, when I was reading issue #1 and suddenly a vampire showed up, it’s a bit of a swerve, but I was totally along for the ride.
And issue #2 we get more of that. There’s a chaotic energy in Mignola’s writing here, and I feel like Greg Hinkle has taken that and run with it.
Brian Salvatore: Chaotic energy is a good way to put it. In a world of decompression, this issue feels incredibly compressed and almost rushed, but in a positive way. This is a nonstop avalanche of energy that takes the plot in a few unexpected directions, especially considering how relatively focused the first issue was.
I guess that’s my first question, Mark. Do you wish that this was a longer series? Or was the concentrated blast a more appealing delivery system?
Mark: I like the avalanche, and that’s simply because of the nature of Radio Spaceman himself, in that he is so detached from everything going on around him. He’s stuck on an alien planet full of monsters with a hammer as his only weapon. The high-tech/low-tech juxtaposition alone is funny to me, but when he’s dropping passive-aggressive comments about someone forgetting to pack extra batteries in the middle of a kaiju battle amid all the chaos, that stuff is gold for me.
So, no, I don’t feel like this needed a longer series. But I definitely feel like I need more, perhaps a few one-shots or another short miniseries. How about you?
Brian: I’m torn on this, because I feel like one of the things that Mignola does well is world build, and this one locale has so much going on that I feel like we only got a hint of the vampire stuff, and only a slight taste of the kaiju stuff. All of that could have informed multiple issues, and I know we’re never going to go back to this setting again, so it stings a bit. But as an active reading experience, this was a fun, breakneck story that never felt anything less than urgent.
I want to return to the idea of this coming from a sketch. Because of Mignola simply drawing something that would be fun or satisfying, there is a lot of detail in the Radio Spaceman design that was probably accidental or at least flowed from something other than the desire to create something that made logical sense. Again, it’s a sketch. And so, because of that, I think that the design, and spinning out of that, the world of the character, feels a little looser and less planned out than a lot of Mignola’s work, though that somewhat implies that Mignola is more of a planner than I think he is; Mignola tends to follow his muse. But I think the point stands; this creation seems perfectly drawn from the sketch inspiration.Continued below
Does that track for you? Or am I reading too much into this?
Mark: No, I agree. It feels like the characters could turn a corner at any moment and come face to face with a bear alien just because that’s what Mignola was doodling one day. That spontaneity is what gives the comic so much energy. And in a way, the format makes it very easy to do more of these stories—Radio Spaceman can arrive on any planet, populated with whatever Mignola and Hinkle want. It’s a very malleable concept in that regard. Given the amount of magic at play in this series, if they ever want to do more on Numa 4, I’m sure they could totally find a way to do it.
Brian: Let’s talk about Hinkle a bit here. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, and this ranks among his most ambitious work. Hinkle, like many of the great Mignolaverse artists, clearly is indebted to Mignola’s designs, but brings a lot of himself here, too. I particularly love the mania that Hinkle brings to the eyes of his characters. No one is ever taking a half-measure; everyone is all in, all the time. That is balanced out by Radio Spaceman’s emotionless visage, and the combination works really well.
Mark: It does. I like the quality of movement his work evokes. I can point to the obvious stuff, like the way the rocket ship flies away at the end of the issue, not in a straight line, but zipping around—but it’s the more nuanced stuff that really gets me, like when Dr. Azee takes off her gloves. The body language reads so clearly, I can feel the pacing as though I’m watching it unfold in front of me. And most importantly, she takes off her gloves in a way that expresses an attitude.
In a story like this, which has the characters scrambling to get back to Radio Spaceman’s ship for most of the issue, capturing distinct attitudes within that is essential, otherwise the comic becomes flat real fast.
And maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but feel a little of Albert Uderzo in his work, and I really like seeing that influence.
Brian: Oooooh, that’s a good call. I like that, too.
We’ve seen Mignola work with the idea of vampires many, many times over the course of his career, and each time, they tend to take on a different variation. We’ve seen Hammer stuff, Stoker-inspired stories, and now we’re getting into the weirdo B-movie vampirism. I personally love the approach, and think it is an incredibly fun way to bring yet another style of vampire film in. I’d love to see him go full Universal Dracula next, only to give way to ’90s vampire gore.
Mark: I thoroughly enjoyed how the first issue introduced Countess Urrescula as its cliffhanger, lets us sit with that for a month, the kicks off issue #2 by building her up as this ominous figure… then ends with Dr. Azee easily throwing her into lava and unceremoniously dropping a hammer on her head. It’s such a great moment of diffusing tension for comedic effect.
And yeah, with the way it ends with Radio Spaceman teaming up with a vampire space archeologist, there’s definitely room for more vampire stories in the future. I was already pretty into Radio Spaceman in the first issue, but there’s a new element that comes into play once he has Dr. Ula Azee to play off of. Their dynamic ended up being my favourite aspect of the issue. I love the way that she can look at three kaiju fighting and go, “That reminds me of something I read on a clay pot once…” It’s wonderfully absurd.
Brian: Wonderfully absurd works for me as a descriptor for the miniseries.
Mark: I just have to say, blowing up the planet with Gargoom shouting “Gar. . . GOOOOOOOM” was perfect. It was just the right name to become an explosive sound effect.
Brian: I did love that. Such a wonderful, small touch.
Mark: There are lots of small touches in here that make the comedy sing beautifully.Continued below
Brian: I’m ready to give this a grade. I’d give this issue a solid 8.0. I dinged it a little bit for the (perhaps) over compression of the story, but this was fun through and through. What about you?
Mark: Yeah, I have to agree. You know I’m a natural trade reader, but this was one of the rare cases where I felt like the wait between issues genuinely heightened the comedy. And yeah, I would’ve loved to have spent more time on Numa 4, but what time we did spend there was such a blast. (Or is it a GOOOM?)
Final Verdict: 8 – “Radio Spaceman: Mission to Numa 4” #2 takes everything the first issue does well, heightens it, and throws in more chaos. While it won’t leave readers unsatisfied, it will leave them wanting more. Hopefully we’ll see Radio Spaceman again in the near future.
On a related note, some of the original Radio Spaceman drawings by Mike Mignola are currently up for auction to raise money for Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen. We recommend you check it out.