A graphic novel by Jeff Parker.
Van Meach was genetically engineered to be a super-soldier, able to adapt to any situation on the genetic level. Originally intended to be a weapon in the Cold War, he ended up having a relatively normal upbringing, except for the whole lack of legal citizenship and so on. He currently works for hire doing odd jobs for rich people. The international intelligence community finds out about half of this, and decides he has become an assassin. Terrified of his monstrous potential, they react by hiring still more assassins to kill him.
Tropes in The Interman
- Achilles' Heel: All four Compass members have one- either physical or emotional. Outcalt informs Van of West's and South's weaknesses, allowing him to come up with strategies for fighting them. He can't do the same for East.
- Adaptive Ability: Van Meach’s superpower is a relatively low-key version. He can survive poisons and oxygen deprivation, grow gills for swimming underwater, and has a very limited form of Super Strength. Also, he does not keep his "adaptations" past the need for them.
- A Good Way to Die: Outcalt points out that the Fox would have wanted to die as he did, in a sword fight.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Van's skin sometimes changes color as a side effect of an adaptation- he turns red after being poisoned, and blue after being deprived of oxygen. He returns to normal after a while, as with all his physical transformations.
- Assassin Outclassin': Between Van's adaptations and Outcalt's advice, most of the assassins don't last very long.
- Changed My Mind, Kid: Outcalt is too professional to do this... but he does call his employers one last time to see if the new information they gained over the course of the story would lead them to call off the hit on Van. They did.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: May. Her handlers expected her to have superpowers, didn't know what to expect, and raised her to be a perfect assassin. They never even realized that she was a normal human.
- Codename: The Compass: North (Mission Control), West, South, and East.
- Confusion Fu: May, who knows many fighting styles and switches between them at random. This makes her a serious threat to Van, since he can't adapt to fight her or copy her because she's so inconsistent.
- Ditto Fighter: Van Meach's adaptation power extends to copying other fighters' moves, including both the Fox and East.
- Dark Action Girl: May and East both qualify.
- Evil Counterpart: May for Van Meach- as he says, she's who he could have been if he had been raised as the weapon that his creators' sponsors wanted.
- Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The main character, and his Evil Counterpart May- except she’s not genetically engineered- she was completely normal, and her apparent superpowers are the result of being raised by someone who expected a supersoldier but didn’t have any details.
- It Gets Easier: Killing gets easier for Van Meach. At first, he's upset when he kills someone- shortly later, he's disturbed by how little he cares anymore. He attributes the swiftness of this change to his adaptation abilities working on a psychological level. In the final showdown, he chooses not to try to kill May regardless.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: East. As soon as Van gets the upper hand in their fight, she stops, turns around, and leaves. North then announces that she's retired. She's the only member of her team to survive their run-in with Van and Outcalt.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Sort of. It must be said that all but one of the characters killed in the book are assassins. However, two out of three female assassins survive, compared to one of the seven males (the one who ultimately did not choose to try to kill the protagonist). Ten assassins (three female, seven male). Three survive (two female, one male).
- Mission Control: North serves this role for the Compass.
- Multinational Team: The assassin team Compass- North's origins aren't revealed, but the the others are from different continents- Asia (East), Africa (South) and Europe (West).
- Pride: East's Achilles' Heel, as diagnosed by North. She retires because Van Meach gets the upper hand in their fight. Not because she lost, because he managed to hit her.
- The Smurfette Principle: There are relatively few female characters, and none of them talk to each other. May is the only one to have a major role.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Van's feelings towards his Evil Counterpart May end up as this. He knows she's just what he could have been if he'd been raised differently, and that if her handlers hadn't believed she was genetically engineered like him, she could've had a normal life. It doesn't change anything for either of them.
- Theme Naming: The Compass: North, West, South, and East.
- Trickster Mentor: Outcalt, who has technically been hired to kill Van and spends most of the book trying to help him instead.
- Tyke Bomb: May was raised as an assassin from birth.